health

4 women find out what their skin really looks like under a UV camera.

NIVEA
Thanks to our brand partner, NIVEA

The Australian sun has a special power over us. It makes us want to go out and enjoy it, from barbecue to bush to beach.

But with all that sunshine comes ultraviolet (UV) exposure, which causes damage to our skin if we’re overexposed. Which raises the question… how do we know if we’re doing enough?

The first step is to know what the UV index is in your area on any given day. If it’s rated over 3, then have your sunscreen, hat and sunnies on hand.

The next step is to understand the sources of UV radiation, as it comes from both direct and indirect sunlight. That includes the reflection of the sand on the beach and other reflective surfaces like glass. UV causes burning and ageing, but also makes sensitive skin react, so it’s more susceptible to sun damage.

We could go on about UV, but let’s see it in practise. We asked four women from the Mamamia team to undergo an experiment.

NIVEA gave us access to ultraviolet camera technology, developed with British artist Thomas Leveritt, that shows what sun damage and sun protection look like.

We took one before photo under LED light, one after photo with the UV camera and no SPF, and one under UV with SPF.

We used NIVEA SUN’s Sensitive Protect SPF50 Sunscreen Lotion, a non-greasy, broad-spectrum SPF50 sunscreen with UVA and UVB filters that absorb and reflect harmful UV light. It also has aloe vera and chamomile to soothe sensitive skin, vitamin E to help keep skin protected and hydrated, and is without oxybenzone and octinoxate (research has shown these chemicals pose a danger to coral reefs).

Let’s begin the exercise. As a guide – lighter skin will appear very pale, darker skin will look darker. An uneven, spotted pigmentation is a sign of UV damage.

Elise, 29

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1. How much sun would you say you get each week?

During summer and the work week the most sun I get is in the morning and evening on the way to and from work on the bus. I wish I got more. On weekends I do a fair bit of walking around my suburb, going to the markets, walking to the gym, visiting friends, hanging washing outside.

2. How would you describe your sunscreen habits?

If I don't wear sunscreen every day I. get. BURNT. I once woke to pink skin the morning after I went swimming at a friends' pool at full moon. I'm convinced I got moon burnt to this day. Because of my pasty Irish skin I have to wear sunscreen every day but I HATE putting it on. My partner often has to remind me. I seem to have a serious penchant for getting it in my own eyes. I also wear long sleeved chambray or linen shirts in summer because if I forget to top up my sunscreen the UV damage is swift.

3. What were your thoughts after trying the UV camera?

I freaked out! I know I'm a freckly gal, and in summer my freckles come up more, so I knew I was going to be freckled. But I'll be honest I was a bit taken aback at just how vulnerable my skin is to UV rays. It made me book in to see a dermatologist. I was pretty impressed at just how effective using sunscreen is. It's one of those things that you know you should do but seeing it in literal black and white in front of you really drives home how important it is to wear sunscreen (no matter how sticky or smelly I think it can be).

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Kee, 31

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1. How much sun would you say you get each week?

One hour in the morning - my morning run or walk, and a short walk on my commute to work. During the summer, three to six hours over the weekend.

2. How would you describe your sunscreen habits?

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I wear SPF50 every day on my face. At the beach I wear SPF50 on my face and body, a hat and sunglasses always.

3. What were your thoughts after trying the UV camera?

It was really interesting to see the visual of how different it is with SPF on. Seeing it really brought home how much your skin is protected and how easy and convenient sun safety has become.

Laura, 39

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1. How much sun would you say you get each week?

I'm out and about at the weekends, with my kids at the park or the beach, plus I walk to and from the bus to work each morning which is about 15 minutes each way.

2. How would you describe your sunscreen habits?

Inconsistent! I always apply sunscreen on the weekend as I'm with the kids and want to walk the talk, but during the week I am hit and miss, some mornings I do, some I don't.

3. What were your thoughts after trying the UV camera?

I know I am not great with sunscreen and need to improve so it was great to see how effective the sunscreen is in protecting my skin and it made me realise I need to make it part of my morning routine to protect my skin all the time.

Nicolle, 31

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1. How much sun would you say you get each week?

I get quite a bit of sun each day now that I’m on maternity leave. Before my son was born I would be outside during the hottest part of the day, now I’m mindful to avoid the sun between 11-2 and I will now reapply sunscreen before going outside. It also helps that I’m not wearing make up every day, it makes it easier to reapply.

2. How would you describe your sunscreen habits?

Since turning 30 and being part of Mamamia's You Beauty community, I’ve been sure to apply sunscreen everyday, a habit that is relatively new. Before this I would only remember to apply it while I was at the beach or swimming, and even then I would hardly ever reapply. In fact, I’m horrified to think in my teens I would use tanning oil on my face. Since becoming a mum I’ve become much more aware of the sun and will look up the UV index before heading out and about. Sunscreen has become an integral part of my beauty routine and it’s the one thing I now never forget.

3. What were your thoughts after trying the UV camera?

I thought I’d have much more UV damage, so I’m glad that I can now continue to be vigilant with sunscreen to avoid any further damage.

What we found.

Sun protection makes a huge difference. Even if it feels like a hassle, it's not. You're literally safeguarding your skin for the future.

Now, doing it the right way is important too. When using a sunscreen like NIVEA SUN’s Sensitive Protect SPF50 Sunscreen Lotion, don't be afraid to apply generously and do it 20 minutes before sun exposure, then reapply every two hours, or more often, if you're sweating or towel drying.

Pair that with keeping out of the sun during the most intense times of the day, and wearing protective clothing, wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses, and you're on the right track to keeping your skin safer in the long term.

And of course, if you're worried about any freckles or spots, seek advice from a doctor.

It's the only skin we've got, so it's worth caring about.

What do you think your skin would look like under a UV camera? How vigilant are you with sun protection? Share below.

Always read the label. Follow the directions of use. Sunscreens are only one part of sun protection. Avoid prolonged high-risk sun exposure. Reapply frequently.
NIVEA

Launched in 1911, NIVEA is one of the world's largest and most successful skin care brands. Over 100 years ago, we invented modern skin care with NIVEA Creme. Today, millions of people all over the world, all with different types of skin, rely on the NIVEA brand. That is why our researchers work extensively with different skin types and the different care requirements brought about by culture, gender and age. Thanks to this approach, we have developed numerous innovative skin care products over the past few decades to cleanse, nourish and protect all skin types. The brand includes several specialist ranges, including Bath Care, Body Care, Deodorant, Face Care, Lip Balm, NIVEA Creme, NIVEA SOFT and Sunscreen.

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