What is the #1 cause of wrinkles?
- UV exposure
It’s #4. Those glorious, warm rays from the sun that we love are actually our skin’s worst enemy. But despair not! You can still enjoy the sun and save your skin. You just have to know how.
In the beauty quest for smooth, firm, and youthful skin, sunblock is THE most effective anti-ageing product there is. It is futile to try to erase lines and wrinkles and fade brown spots if you don’t protect your skin from further damage. You may be from the generation that put baby oil on their skin and then went out to tan–sigh–-what we wish we knew then that we know now; but it’s never too late to change the destiny of your skin by implementing a suncare regime.
And the good news is that technology has come a long way both in terms of protection and repair. The skin is your body’s largest organ, and the most visible, so good skincare and preventative measures to mitigate the damage inflicted by the sun are critical for fabulous skin now, and for years to come.
ISN’T MY MAKEUP ENOUGH? Whether your skin is dry or oily, there is a sunblock for you. Because, let’s face it; if your sunscreen makes you break out or look like a ghost, you’re not going to use it. Unlike years ago when sunscreen was greasy, gloopy, and left a residue, sunscreen is now formulated to be virtually imperceptible on the skin and works wonderfully with makeup. In fact, many cosmetics now have added sunscreen: foundations, primers, lip products, to name but a few. However, you still need a SPF moisturizer that is applied directly on the skin to adequately coat and protect the skin cells and deliver the specified sun protection factor. Think of your SPF-enhanced makeup as an adjunct to your sun protection, not as a substitute. The real secret to protecting your skin from photo damage is using sunscreen every day and applying it correctly.
WHAT SPF DO YOU REALLY NEED? Broad spectrum UVA (the sunburn causing rays) and UVB (the aging rays which break down collagen and elastin and cause wrinkles) sun protection is critical, but a higher SPF is not necessarily better. High ratings can give the wearer a false sense of protection and security. The reality is that the higher SPF offers very little additional protection and, in fact, contains more irritating chemical additives which may cause skin reactions and sensitivities.
SPF 30 provides only 4% more sun protection than an SPF 15. And an SPF 45 provides only 2% more than an SPF 30. In logarithmic fashion, as the numbers increase, the percentages decrease. Therefore, it’s really not the SPF number that is most important. Daily, generous, and meticulous application is paramount.
THE RECOMMENDATIONS VS. REALITY Many sunscreens degrade with exposure to UV light and breakdown by the natural oils produced by the skin especially around the nose, which tends to be oiliest. This is why it is recommended to reapply sunscreen every few hours. The reality is that this is not always practical: if you are at an office, taking off all your makeup, washing your face, reapplying your sunblock, and then putting your makeup on again is just not going to happen. So for a fast and efficient solution, dusting the skin every few hours (face, hands, neck and other exposed skin) with a SPF-infused mineral powder is a great way to both enhance your makeup and top up your sunscreen protection. Carry it in your handbag, and consider this “dry sunscreen” as an essential bit of extra protection.
THE BEAUTY BENEFITS Suncare has become a bona fide beauty category. No longer relegated to the drugstore or sportswear aisles, sun protection and after-sun products are a growing part of the cosmetics department with big name beauty brands offering products for all ages, skin types, and skin tones. With the inclusion of ingredients with skincare and anti-ageing benefits such as peptides, enzymes, and antioxidants to fight free radicals, sunblocks are skin saviors that both protect and perfect.
CHEMICAL OR PHYSICAL? THE SCIENCE OF SUNBLOCK Of all the things we put on our skin, sunblock is the most likely to cause irritations or breakouts. So when choosing a sunblock, always do a patch test first before applying to your entire face. Needless to say, all formulas are not created equal. There are pros and cons to both physical and chemical sunscreens, and some formulations are a combination of both types. It’s a matter of finding what works for your skin.
Physical sunscreens contain active mineral ingredients which act as a physical block on the skin to deflect and disperse damaging UV rays away from the skin.
- Is naturally broad spectrum and protects against both UVA and UVB rays
- Is activated immediately once applied, no waiting time is required
- Has a longer shelf life
- Remains effective longer in direct sunlight, but is not stable when sweating or when in contact with water
- Less irritating, non-comedogenic
- Look for titanium dioxide or zinc oxide on the ingredient list
Chemical sunscreens contain organic (carbon-based) compounds which create a chemical reaction and work by converting UV rays into heat, then releasing that heat from the skin.
- Formula is lighter, thinner, easier to apply, and less product is needed for full protection
- More potentially irritating
- Requires 20 minutes after application before it becomes effective, and must be reapplied more often
- Look for oxybenzone, octinoxate, octisalate and avobenzone on the ingredient list
WHEN TO APPLY SUNSCREEN
Use 365 days a year, rain or shine, inside or out (forty percent of sun damage occurs while you are indoors through windows). Did you know that you should also wear sunscreen in an airplane? Whilst flying, you are actually closer to the sun so UV damage is greater. Windows do not filter out the harmful rays, so you are still exposed even though you are not in direct sunlight. Wear a minimum of SPF 15.
HOW TO APPLY SUNSCREEN
Most people simply do not apply enough sunscreen. You need about a shot glass full.
- After cleansing, toning, and skin serum, apply a quarter-sized amount of sunscreen and apply to the neck in broad upward strokes starting at the centre and fanning out to the sides and up to the hairline and the back of the head.
- Apply a dime-sized amount to the chest area if you are wearing clothing that exposes the skin.
- Apply a nickel-sized amount to fingertips, rub together and apply to face starting at the sides of the nose and fanning out to ears; then apply to the forehead, nose, chin, and upper lip area. Apply generously, evenly, and thoroughly.
- With any leftover, apply to tops of ears and earlobes.
- Proceed with makeup.
HOW TO PROTECT YOUR HAIR
The sun can damage your hair, too. UV rays can cause your once glossy hair to become dry, brittle, and prone to breakage. You wouldn’t dream of blowdrying your hair without first adding a heat protectant, so before you head outdoors, you need to shield your strands.
There are products designed to protect and hydrate all hair types: from creams packed with beneficial oils to feather-light mists. Both you and your hair will look brilliant.
And the best defense for your hair against the sun is the easiest and the most stylish–a wide-brimmed hat.
Oh, and don’t forget your sunnies!