Sun Drenched

2nd August 2019

Feeling the warmth of the sun on your face is wonderful for your soul, but not so good for your body. Remember to keep well-protected, reminds Lisa Botwright…

The British have an amusing love-hate relationship with the sun. We long for it for most of the year, but when it shines in full strength, as it does (sporadically) in the summer months, we’re wholly unprepared and tend to ‘melt’ a little.

It’s this inconsistency in our weather system that makes us so slapdash with suncream. We slather it on when we go overseas, but – bar a little bit of SPF in our moisturiser or foundation – we don’t prioritise it in the same way when we’re back home.

The single most effective thing we can do to postpone and minimise the signs of ageing (as I regularly remind my teenagers) is to wear a broad spectrum suncream – which means one that contains a filter for UVA and UVB – every single day. While it’s the UVB that tans us (and remember that tanned skin is still damaged skin) it’s the UVA present in the atmosphere all-year round that causes the deeper, long term damage, destroying the collagen and elastin in our skin: the proteins responsible for youthful firming and plumping. It’s this degradation that results wrinkles, fine lines and dark spots (hyperpigmentation).

But all that’s just vanity compared to the scarier outcome – that the cellular damage will lead to skin cancer. The BBC recently reported a steep rise in melanoma, now the fifth most common cancer in this country, over the last decade, particularly in men and younger adults. Cancer Research UK commented, ‘Men are more likely to develop skin cancers on their chests and backs, and women on their legs, probably because of what they wear in the sun. Men’s risk can also be increased if they have a job outdoors.’ They added ‘people need to remember to protect their skin in the UK, as well as on holiday.’

For most of us sitting in an office all day, and popping out for a sandwich at lunchtime, one morning application will probably be fine. However, according to Dr Emma Wedgeworth, consultant dermatologist and British Skin Foundation spokesperson, “If you are out and about and in direct sunlight, you should be reapplying sunscreen every 2-3 hours. We generally advise about a teaspoon amount for the face and a 30ml shot glass for the body.” There’s no excuse not to re-apply even when wearing a full-face of makeup, thanks to the wonders of a good facial mist. (The Body Shop mist is light and refreshing and contains SPF30 or 45.) Dr Wedgeworth also cautions that while moisturisers and makeup with SPF sound like a good idea, we don’t usually apply enough to get the desired effect.

Sisley’s Super Soin Solaire dedicated facial suncream isn’t easy on the pocket, but it’s the gold standard for offering cutting-edge, protective active ingredients, with a luxurious finish that sinks into the skin easily.

If your complexion’s on the oily side, and you baulk at adding anything too rich into your daily routine, try a mattifying lotion like SkinCeuticals Mineral Matte UV Defense (£41, www.lookfantastic.com).

For even more facial protection, experts are now recommending the dream team of vitamin C with SPF. Crucially, vitamin C doesn’t shield your skin like sunscreen, but works to reduce oxidation damage to the skin. Since sunscreens don’t block all of the pesky free radicals produced by UV exposure (which is why we still tan when we use them), the antioxidant properties of vitamin C get to work to mop up damage at the cellular level. “Combining vitamin C serum and broad-spectrum sunscreens have been shown to be more effective at neutralising free radical damage from sun exposure than just using sunscreen alone,” asserts dermatologist Dr. Steven Mandrea.

I like the smooth texture of Kiehls Powerful-Strength Line-Reducing Concentrate (with 12.5% vitamin C), although beware the momentary tingling sensation you get as you apply.
The only downside to all these suncreams is the surplus of plastic, but happily organic experts Green People have stepped up to offer a reef-safe sun lotion in fully recyclable, renewable sugar cane packaging. Its ultra-natural ingredients mean it’s great for those prone to eczema or heat rash too.

An extra five minutes in the bathroom every morning is a small price to pay to be reassured you’re fully protected.

above: Skin Defence Face Mist SPF45 www.thebodyshop.com £18

Scent Free Sun Lotion SPF30 www.greenpeople.co.uk, £22.50

Super Soin Solaire SPF 30
www.sisley-paris.com £153.00

Line-Reducing Concentrate
www.kiehls.co.uk, £49.50

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