Don’t think “sun protection”, think “daylight protection”; every day, says wellness journalist Jo Glanville-Blackburn.
Remember, it’s not a moisturiser you need as the last step in your morning skincare regime – it’s a sunscreen. It’s the single most important anti-ageing step in your skincare, today and every day, yet it’s amazing how many of us still don’t think of it unless the sun’s out. Now’s the time to make “daylight protection” an everyday, all-year-round regime.
Why sunscreen is crucial
Harmful, ageing UV damage reaches us all day long, outdoors or indoors (through glass), in the sun or in the shade. After 40+, you’re really going to start seeing the damage sun and environmental exposure has had over the years (as any damage takes up to 20 years to appear), but it’s never too late to start to care and repair. Knowing what suits your skin, when enough is enough, how your skin reacts, and changing UV behaviour before your skin even says “enough”, is the key.
Did you know?
South Africa has one of the highest monitored Ultra Violet (UV) levels in the world, and our country is heating up, receiving more UV exposure than in years gone by. With skin cancer being a serious consequence of sun-damaged skin, it’s not good enough to just apply the first sunscreen you can lay your hands on. Do you know how long your sunscreen will protect you for?
The SPF, or Sun Protection Factor displayed on sunscreen is an indication of how well that product will protect your skin from the sun’s harmful UVB rays (Ultra Violet B). These are the rays responsible for the redness of skin, burning, skin damage, skin spots and ultimately skin cancer.
How the SPF number works
If it takes your unprotected skin five minutes to start turning red in the sun, then an SPF 20 sunscreen will give you 20 times that number or minutes’ protection. (5 x 20 = 100 minutes, or 1 hour 40). If you turn red after five minutes and you use an SPF 50 sunscreen, you’ll get 50 times as much protection. (5 x 50 = 250 minutes, or 4 hours 10 minutes).
Information provided by Island Tribe
‘I’m seeing spots’
Reduce hyperpigmentation, aka dark age spots, or even melasma.
“UV damage is the main cause of hyperpigmentation,” says Frauke Neuser, P&G principal scientist. “UV radiation damages the skin cells responsible for pigment production (melanocytes) so that they ‘get out of control’ and keep producing melanin, even when you are not in the sun anymore.”
Dermatologist, Dr Ginny Hubbard says, “There are treatments that can help fade pigmentation, but this is never a 100% cure, and pigmentation will quickly recur once you go in the sun without adequate protection. I recommend wearing an SPF 50 plus UVA protection every day. Apply after moisturiser. Layering products with SPF – from your moisturiser to foundation make-up – gives extra protection, too.”
Act Now! Look for treatments that contain key ingredients, such as N-acetyl glucosamine or vitamin C, which slow down and inhibit the hyper-production of melanin; or those that accelerate surface-cell turnover, such as niacinamide, to get rid of existing pigmentation spots.
Cool Tip! “For those of us who are often outdoors, it’s worth having a small tube or stick of sunscreen to reapply after an hour or so,” says Ginny.
‘I’m feeling parched’
Boost your skin’s moisture levels.
In summer, a dry atmosphere (in-flight or under the sun) draws water from the skin, causing severe dehydration, which, in turn may lead to sensitivity.
“It’s called ‘osmotic shock’,” says Clinique’s Dr Tom Mammone. “Skin repairs itself, but this damage is known to affect the skin’s DNA.” Skin, as a result, may look crêpey or feel itchy; and this makes it even more susceptible to UV damage.
Act Now! Opt for super-hydrating moisturisers rich in hyaluronic acid or shea butter, and top up moisture levels throughout a flight with a hydrating spritz, such as Nimue Vitamin C Moisture Mist, R208 for 60ml.
Cool tip! “Never apply rich creams to sunburnt skin, as this may seal in the heat and exacerbate the condition,” says Sally Penford of The International Dermal Institute. “Keep after-sun lotion in the fridge and apply after a tepid shower.”
VICHY After Sun SOS Balm, R235 for 100ml, is a special repair balm formulated with the powerful soothing active ingredient willowherb extract. The concentrated bio-available lipids instantly soothes the skin, while targeting damaged cellular membranes.
‘I just won’t hide away from the sun!’
Seek all-round anti-ageing protection with sunscreen and antioxidants.
“Before and after being in the sun, load up your skin with antioxidants (especially vitamins C and E), which will mop up free radicals, the main aggressors produced by UV radiation,” says Frauke. “This way, any UV rays that get past the SPF protection can be quenched more effectively (think of it as the second line of defence).
Eating lots of antioxidant-containing foods (such as lycopene-rich tomatoes) has been shown to protect against sun damage, too.
Act now! Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before leaving the house for the best protection. If you’re sensitive to sunscreen, opt for physical “blockers”, such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, as these are less likely to cause reactions.
Cool tip! Out and about, protect hands and cleavage with high-factor sunscreen in the same way as you do your face.
Mix it in
Isn’t my foundation enough? You’re probably getting up to an SPF 8 or 10 with foundation alone – but Dermalogica Solar Defense Booster SPF 50, R849 for 50ml, can either give skin SPF 50 protection when applied directly, or blend it with any moisturiser or foundation to provide an SPF 40 protection.
Top up that protection
For extra defence, top up with Eucerin Even Brighter Day Cream SPF 30, R319.99 for 50ml.
Cover sensitive skin
If you’re super-sensitive under the sun, then try Bioderma Photoderm Max SPF50 Tinted Aquifluid, R174 for 40ml; or NeoStrata® Daytime Protection Cream, R578 for 40g.
Moisturisers with benefits: pigment-reducing Olay Regenerist Luminous Skin Tone Perfecting Cream, R329 for 50ml, with peptides and niacinamide; and skin smoothing Lancôme Génifique Youth Activating Cream, R1,010 for 30ml.
Do it all
One stop! Clinique Smart Custom-Repair Serum, R820 for 30ml, contains antioxidants, cell regenerators and dark-spot defenders, all in one serum.