Suncare Glossary

Aloe Vera: a relative of the lily, the aloe vera plant contains a sticky sap that is renowned for its soothing, healing properties. It is a popular ingredient in after sun formulas.

Anti-Oxidants: Substances that fight the formation of free radicals, including vitamins A, C and E, grape seed extract and Co-enzyme Q10.

Broad-spectrum filter: A sunscreen that filters out both UVA and UVB light.

Chemical Sun Screens: Synthetic molecules capable of absorbing and neutralising UV rays.

Dermatologically-tested: A formula developed without known allergens.

Erythma: Reddening of the skin caused by exposure to UV light

Free Radicals: Cells that have been made incomplete at a molecular level. UV light is a significant cause of free radical movement in the body.

Hyper-Pigmentation: Sometimes called ‘age spots’, hyper-pigmentation appears as brown patches, paler and larger than ordinary moles, found on the backs of the hands and the face.

Langerhans cells: are mobile cells that patrol the epidermis zapping ‘alien’ invaders. When exposed to UV light they move out of the epidermis leaving it vulnerable to UV damage.

Hypoallergenic: A formula screened for known allergens.

Minimal Erytheml Dose (MED): The length of time it takes for your skin to start to burn in the sun without topical protection. Used to calculate the length of time each SPF formula will allow you to remain under the sun in safety.

Melanin: The pigment that turns your skin brown after exposure to the sun.

Melanocytes: Situated in the basal layer of the epidermis, melanocytes produce melanin as a protective measure in response to UV exposure.

Non-comedogenic: Will not block pores and cause blackheads and spots.

Ozone-Layer: Situated in the stratosphere, the ozone layer protects life on earth by filtering short-wave UV rays from sunlight.

P53 Gene: Repairs damaged genetic material which can lead to certain cancers. P53 levels are reduced by UV exposure.

Physical Sunscreens: Will literally block the passage of light to the skin, as opposed to chemical sunscreens which absorb it. Examples include titanium dioxide and zinc oxide.

Prickly Heat: A rash caused by clocked sweat glands in areas usually covered by clothing.

SPF (Sun Protection Factor): The most familiar way for sun care products to be categorised is by their SPF, expressed in multiples of the skin’s own protective capacity.

Tan: Distinct from erythema or sunburn (which refer to the skin’s tendency to burn in the sun) a tan takes longer to develop, as melanocytes react to UV light by releasing melanin.

Tan Extenders: Products that reduce your skin’s natural rate of cell turnover, so that skin cells remain in the stratum corneum for longer than they would normally. The result is that the sun tan remains for longer than it would otherwise.

UV (Ultra Violet): Part of the sun’s light spectrum, divided into UVA and UVB.

UV-Stability: A controversial aspect of sun care labelling. Some manufacturers claim that sunlight depletes the protective power of chemical sunscreens. UV-stable formulas claim to be consistently effective for the duration of safe sun exposure.

UVA Star Rating: A symbol found on sun protection packaging featuring four stars to indicate moderate to maximum protection from UVA.

Vitamin E: A powerful anti-oxidant vitamin.

Water-Resistant: Designed to resist erosion by water for at least 45 minutes. Some formulas offer longer water-resistance for water sports players and children.

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