Wearing SPF indoors: Is it a must?

Wearing SPF daily is the only thing that will keep your skin in good condition as you age.

Even during a lockdown, it must be worn every single day while indoors (windows are not as protective as you would think), when it's cloudy and you're out in the garden or on your daily walk.

Apart from the obvious, what does it do?

Your skin needs protection.

Forget the effects your fancy anti-age serum promises it will give you – without protection from the long-term damaging effects of UV rays that is a moot point. SPF works beneath the skin's layers to prevent lasting damage.

Professor Caitriona Ryan, consultant dermatologist at the Institute of Dermatologists and Blackrock Clinic confirms that sunscreen is the most powerful anti-aging skincare product a person can use.

Apart from the obvious reduction in skin cancer risk, it prevents premature aging of the skin, blotchy discolouration of the face and the development of broken veins.

What type?

Physical sunscreens containing zinc are best as they block UVA rays more efficiently. UVA rays are the main culprit in causing photo ageing and pigmentation. This type of sunscreen is also much better if you suffer with rosacea or sensitive skin. At the very least, your broad-spectrum sunscreen should have an SPF 30, although SPF 50 is advised.

Even indoors?

As many of us are now working from home and/or spending most of our time indoors, you might consider saving the SPF for freedom, but sunscreen remains an essential part of every day, even when working from home.

Dermatologists advise that avoiding direct sunlight indoors does not mean your skin is safe from harmful UV rays. Standard glass windows only protect your skin from UVB rays (the burning rays of the sun) but not UVA rays (the aging rays).

UVA rays reaching you through a window can damage your skin in as little as 15 minutes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. UVA rays penetrate deeper into the skin and are the main culprit of photo-aging – seen in the form of dark spots, wrinkles and a leathery texture on the skin. UVA rays also cause skin cancer.

If you are working from a sunny room, more than 50% of UVA rays can penetrate glass and reach your skin - even if you are several feet away. Wearing a broad spectrum of SPF 30 or higher will protect you from those rays, preventing both skin cancer and aging.

What about blue light?

Even if you are nowhere near a window, the computer screen you are working at can have an impact on your complexion. Blue light which comes from our phones and computer screens can cause hyperpigmentation like melasma and dark spots. Sunscreen helps to protect us from this.

Do I need to re-apply indoors?

If you are near a window (or anywhere within several feet) the same rules apply as if you were outdoors – re-apply every two hours is the resounding recommendation from dermatologists.