You know that you need to be wearing SPF all the time by now if you’ve been reading for a while. Quick recap: you need to be wearing broad spectrum SPF on your face, neck and décolletage everyday. Broad spectrum is that which protects from both UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays are the ones that cause wrinkles, lines, age spots – U-V-A-for-Ageing – but are also associated with skin cancer. UVB are the rays that cause sunburn and are strongly associated with malignant melanoma and basal cell carcinoma (source: Irish Skin Foundation website). Seeing as us Irish are a pale lot and thus are more susceptible to light-related skin damage, we truly need to be wearing SPF everyday – full stop.
Do you need evidence of this? Take a look at “William the Truck Driver”. Unprotected sun exposure can cause things like solar elastosis which is what it is called when your elastin collects in an irregular way due to light-related damage and creates stiff-looking ridges on the skin, making it look thick and leathery. It is also the cause of age spots, sun spots, liver spots… They are all the same thing, known as solar lentigo.
The nice thing about everyday SPF is that I’m a lot less harsh about which ones to use… To be fair, I’m just glad that people are wearing it. My usual guidelines are that it should be…
- Protective of both UVA and UVB rays – if it doesn’t say broad spectrum or full spectrum, check the star rating on the bottle. This star rating is showing the ratio of UVA protection in relation to UVB protection. If your sun protection is SPF 30 or over and it has a star rating of 4 or 5, it is near perfect. Another way to see if a sunscreen or sunblock has UVA protection is to look for “UVA” with a circle around it. Who knows why it needs to be this confusing on the packaging?!
- At least SPF 30. This is the best way to ensure you are protected, in my opinion. Environ actually advocate for SPF 15 or over. In the end, it is your decision which factor you are using but the more naturally pale you are, the more sensitive you are to light-exposure – us Caspers need to keep that in mind!
- Worn daily on exposed areas without fail. All day, everyday; on your birthday, at Christmas, in the Winter, Spring, Summer and Autumn, on Easter Sunday, on World Poetry Day, during Seachtain na Gaeilge. Get it?!
What do I mean by everyday SPF? When I say everyday SPF, I’m talking about a sun protection product that you wear everyday on your face, neck and décolletage. In this sense, an everyday SPF is not just protecting you from future skin cancer but also the advanced light-related ageing that was mentioned slightly earlier. When it comes to SPFs for the Summer and for the whole body, the ones you should be wearing from March through to September according to the Irish Skin Foundation, you may need something different. I’ll get an article out about that a smidge closer to hollibob season (and I’ll also talk about protecting kids from the sun too).
Physical Vs. Chemical SPF
There are two different types of sun protection: physical and chemical. Physical SPFs are so named as the active mineral ingredients in them physically reflect UVA and UVB rays away from the skin. The most common mineral ingredients found in physical SPFs are titanium dioxide and zinc oxide.
Chemical SPFs have ingredients like avobenzone and oxybenzone, for example, which work to swap UV rays into heat that is then released from the skin. Rather than putting a superhero costume on you to protect from the sun, as physical sunblocks do, they turn your skin into the superhero costume, if you catch what I’m saying.
Each type has their own perks and pitfalls. Mineral-based sunscreens have for years been synonymous with the typical thick-white-smear look but technological advances mean that the particles can now be micronised (ie. the particles can be made much smaller) which makes them appear more appealing! Some believe that chemical sunscreens can cause breakouts but other believe that physical sunscreens can cause breakouts so it is not so cut and dry. Trial and error is key!
Choosing Your Everyday SPF
The everyday SPF you choose should be down to what suits your specific skin best. Many people don’t want to wear SPF in case it ruins the finished look of their makeup and I see that point. The wrong SPF can cause a slip-and-slide effect that cannot be fixed by blotting paper – I have done the trial and error myself. The consistency of your SPF is important, contrary to popular belief. You will not want to wear it if you don’t like how it feels and there are too many options out there for you to be settling! When you find the SPF for you, it should look seamless under your makeup.
For me, that perfect SPF is the IMAGE Skincare Prevention+ Daily Matte Moisturiser SPF32 (€46.00) which is beloved by Roz Purcell and Queen P, Pippa O’Connor herself, too. It truly creates a matte, primer-style base for my makeup to sit on and yet protects my skin at the same time.
If you are an oily-skinned hooman, you’re looking for phrases like “matte” and “mattifying”, but sure you know that. Murad has a great selection of SPFs for those looking for real oil-control ingredients. Their Oil Control Mattifier (€39.50) is only an SPF 15 but for those who really cannot find an SPF that is matte enough, SPF 15 is better than not wearing one. This one is essentially a primer, as in it could go against a cosmetic primer in the ring and may come out a champ.
For those who need more hydration, you’re looking for a true hydrator, such as a moisturiser with a high SPF. The moisture-bearing sister of MY IMAGE sunblock is the IMAGE Skincare Prevention+ Daily Hydrating Moisturiser (€46.00). It contains an ingredient called Aqualance, which specifically targets UV-related skin dehydration. Both IMAGE Prevention+ Moisturisers, matte and hydrating, are mineral-based sunscreens and contain antioxidants, green tea and vitamins to give to the skin while protecting it.
Antioxidants are key at protecting the skin from a little something called free radical damage. Free radicals are found in our own skin cells, in the air and in everything really and are strongly linked to pollution, and as such, they are inescapable. Free radicals are missing an electron which makes them roam around like lunatics trying to find one and they latch on to healthy cells to steal their electron. In this process of electron-thievery, their free-radicalness spreads to the healthy cell to make another free radical. This process can cause something called oxidative stress as the body cannot handle all of these free radicals. It is oxidative stress that causes the skin to age perhaps quicker than it would have otherwise, hence why I believe so strongly in antioxidant protection.
Another option for those looking for antioxidant protection would be Environ’s RAD SPF 15 (€29.95). Nerdie fact: Dr. Des Fernandes, the creator of Environ, first formulated RAD in his kitchen. It is full of skin-nourishing vitamins such as betacarotene, C and E, which are all antioxidant in nature.
If you are sensitive-skinned, it is a common suggestion that mineral-based sunscreen will be best for you. I’m of the side who believe in chemicals and do not think they are detrimental for your skin – most things that exist are chemicals and plenty of “chemical ingredients” are naturally found in the body. If you have tried chemical sensitive skin formulations and they all irritated your skin, it may be worth it to give a mineral-based sunscreen a go. Neostrata Sheer Physical Protection SPF 50 (€34.13) is a high-protection, mineral-based sunscreen with a peachy tint so that you are guaranteed no white cast from it. It won’t provide any concealment or coverage to the skin but it won’t change the colour of your makeup either.
Your facial SPF is basically your main Autumn/Winter sun protection as you can apply it on any exposed areas, which would usually be just your face, neck, décolletage and the back of your hands.
How Much To Apply And How
The Irish Cancer Society recommends at least half a teaspoon for the face alone and a full teaspoon for the face and neck which is not so much at all to those wondering about how it will feel. You should apply your SPF after all of your serums and before your makeup (if you are a makeup wearer). I usually do not have time in the morning to wait for everything to absorb but for best effects, allow some time after applying your serums to apply your SPF and some more time between SPF and makeup. Use the interims to put on your clothes or brush your teeth so that you’re not just standing around waiting for your products to absorb… or just use it as peaceful, pre-work-day relaxation time!
It is recommended that all SPF is topped up every two hours for maximum effectiveness but you did not put all that time into your makeup for it to be smeared off. Compact formulations are a fab cheat for topping up SPF, such as Avène’s SPF 50 Tinted Compact (€33.49), as they simultaneously touch up your makeup and your protection. There is even an SPF powder in the form of Brush On Block Mineral Sunscreen (€32.00).
SPF Spritz O’Clocks are a different way to top up, for those who don’t necessarily want more makeup coverage! There are plenty on the market such as La Roche-Posay’s Anthelios Sunscreen Face Mist SPF50 (€14.99) or IMAGE’s Prevention + Ultra Sheer Spray SPF 45 (€41.00).
Mineral Makeup And Sun Protection
Many mineral makeup formulations include titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide… do you remember them? They are the minerals that can physically block the sun so you want them around as much as possible. Jane Iredale’s mineral makeup formulations double as sun protection and makeup for the most part. The Glow Time BB Cream (€54.00), for example, is SPF 25 (SPF 17 in darker shades). How and ever, as you do not apply as much makeup as you do SPF, I believe it is a way to boost sun protection rather than a way to replace it. Minerals are naturally antioxidant too, so they will battle free radicals at the same time.
The Nerdie Recap
- An everyday SPF will simultaneously help to protect you from accelerated skin ageing and skin cancer
- There are two types of SPF, being physical and chemical, but there are also products that combine both forms
- The best SPF is the one that suits your skin whilst protecting it properly
- You need to apply at least a teaspoon to the face and neck and top it up every two hours
- SPF should be your last step before applying makeup or your final step if you are not a makeup wearer
When it comes to finding an SPF that will simultaneously help your skin and suit your skin, you do not need to go it alone! Book in for a skin consultation with our Nerdettes now to get rid of the guesswork and let us help you solve the jigsaw puzzle that is your skin.