Don’t waste your money on poor sunscreens: these are the ones to know about – and learn how to wear it properly, from one of Ireland’s top dermatologists …
It’s the one bit of beauty advice that bears endless repeating: sun protection is the most important thing we put on our skin. Yes, you should wear it every day. Even if your foundation includes an SPF, you should wear a separate one; integrated ones tend to only offer UVB protection, and we need both UVA and UVB protection; plus we tend to only apply a small amount. You need to protect your skin from damaging UV rays 365 days a year.
To clarify what to wear and how to wear it, it’s always good to talk to a dermatologist or cosmetic doctor. Dr Katharine Mulrooney emphasises the importance of finding a formula that you like wearing – otherwise you won’t wear it – and of using the right amount. Typically, she notes, we only apply half the recommended amount. “You need half a teaspoon for your face and neck – about 5ml. So three pumps for face, three or four for your neck. My advice is to apply it, then go and brush your teeth, and then repeat/apply again. This double application is a good way to ensure you have enough on.” In the same way that double-cleansing is recommended to really clean your skin, this same double-application of SPF is a key piece of skincare advice.
What about the order of applying it? “Think M&S,” says Dr Mulrooney: “Moisturiser then sunscreen.” GP Dr Laura Lenihan also says it should be the final layer of your skincare – think of it as “the icing on the cake”. And find one you like the feel and look of on your skin. “Finding a sunscreen you like wearing is trial and error – you often need to try out a lot to find that ease of use. It’s also key to remember your neck and your chest, not just your face. Keep a scarf with you when you’re going out, for example, to cover up, and sit with your back to the sun.” Dr Mulrooney also stresses the need to top up regularly. “If you’re wearing foundation, a mineral powder can be a good way to top up – something like Vichy Dermablend Mineral Powder is easy to just brush on.”
I’ve been wearing Elemis Pro-Collagen Marine Cream SPF30, an absolutely beautiful, featherlight moisturiser with broad-spectrum protection (against UVA and UVB), though it is a luxury at €102 (www.millies.ie). I’d then apply the Vichy UV-Age SPF50 before going for a walk or exercise.
The message is skincare is shifting away (at last) from that nonsensical and negative term “anti-ageing”. “Anti-ageing” is now being remarketed as “menopausal” skincare, while Vichy’s more specific message is “anti photo-ageing”: “Ageing occurs, photo-ageing is preventable,” notes Dr Mulrooney. “Photo- or sun-ageing causes some 80 per cent of negative manifestations such as irregularities, lines and pigmentation, and affects the protein structure of the skin.”
Even if you can’t see damage now, it’s there. As consultant dermatologist Dr Hiva Fassihi emphasises: “Something that many of us don’t consider is that most of us have sun damage within our skin that is yet to be visible. That is why it is so important to protect your skin at any age.” And it’s not just in tropical sunshine – while most of us consider suncream while abroad, recent reports show that over a quarter of adults do not wear it in Ireland. “I cannot stress enough the importance of wearing a broad-spectrum, high-factor SPF daily. We must practise safe sun at home in Ireland this summer just as we would when holidaying abroad,” says Professor Niki Ralph, consultant dermatologist.
There’s no such thing as a healthy tan, as any dermatologist will tell you. All tans are damage. Forget everything Gwyneth Paltrow has ever said about how to apply sunscreen (and probably anything else too), and listen to actual skin experts who tell us that skin cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in Ireland annually, according to the Irish Cancer Society, with one in six men and one in nine women will be affected. With nine out of every ten cases caused by UV rays from the sun or sunbeds, it is one of the most preventable forms of cancer if correct daily protection is used. Irish skin tends to have less melanin – and melanin is our inbuilt protection against UVA and UVB. So it’s vital to follow sun safe rules in Clonakilty as much as Croatia, from wearing hats to avoiding the sun at the hottest times of day. (Facialist Neelu White stocks a range of hats with inbuilt sun protection to protect your skin, hair and ears; www.neelus-salon.com).
New-generation formulas mean that you don’t need to wreck your clothes with greasy creams or put up with a heavy or sticky layer on your skin all day (I sprayed P20 on my arms the other day and couldn’t believe how sticky it was; I’m going with Garnier Ambre Solaire for arms and legs instead). Here are the formulas we’ve picked out from piles of testers – they work, suit a variety of skin types and they are easy to wear:
FOR MATURE SKIN
1 Vichy Capital Soleil UV-Age Daily SPF50+, €22 (40ml) is designed to correct and protect – invisibly. “It’s very lightweight and soaks in well to the skin – it doesn’t pill like many sunscreens,” notes Dr Mulrooney. “And crucially, it doesn’t migrate – many people find suncream gets up around the eyes and irritates them. It’s also a nice primer for make-up – I will often wear just a tinted moisturiser on top.” USP: It has been tested vigorously for use around the eye area, and it’s suitable for all skin types and skintones; as it’s a fluid, it suits older skin. It offers double the recommended UVA protection, along with actives such as antioxidant vitamin E, niacinamide and a peptide complex, to strengthen the skin barrier and soothe. “It’s a dual protect and correct product – a one-stop solution.” A clinically-based affordable option. At pharmacies nationwide.
2 Clarins UV Plus Multi-Protection Moisturising Screen SPF50, €39 (30ml) is a small, neat option that is light and oil-free – and we love how invisible it is on the skin. With a mix of chemical and mineral filters, it features ingredients to regulate shine. USP: You’re getting robust protection against blue light and pollen as well as UV rays. At counters nationwide and www.clarins.ie.
3 La Roche-Posay Anthelios Age Correct SPF50+ €26 (50ml) is good for skin prone to dark spots, wrinkles and loss of elasticity, with active skincare ingredients such as niaciniamade and hyaluronic acid, while offering broad-spectrum protection. USP: A day cream that treats skin while preventing further damage.
FOR WFH DAYS
4 Avene Intense Protect SPF50+, €22.50 (150ml). “Photoageing leads to wrinkles, collagen loss and pigmentation changes,” advises GP Dr Laura Lenihan. USP: This cream has an innovative new organic filter to absorb and reflect UVA and UVB rays and also visible blue light; “the effects of blue light are similar to UVA rays and damage skin cells.” At www.Boots.ie and pharmacies nationwide.
ON THE GO OPTION
5 Vichy Capital Protective Water Enhanced Tan SPF50 (€18.75, 200ml) are very popular, for their light, non-stick texture – just spray and go; Vichy assure us they protect as well as a cream. USP: Water and oil-based, they’re infused with hyaluronic acid to moisturise and give a glowy look. You need three sprays for forearm. You could use the Vichy UV-Age SPF50 on your face and neck and then top up with this water spray. “When you’re in and out of the water it’s particularly key to top up,” notes Dr Mulrooney. La Roche-Posay’s Anti-Shine Invisible Fresh Mist SPF50 (€14.50) is another great speedy option.
6 Skingredients Skin Shield SPF50, €45 (50ml) costs a bit more, but it is one we’ve talked about often – I keep going back to this peachy liquid formula as it’s lightweight and doesn’t make your skin look luminously white or clogged with cream. USP: It protects against computer light, has good skincare ingredients and is cruelty-free. www.skingredients.com and pharmacies nationwide.
7 Elave Sensitive Daily Skin Defence SPF45, €22.95, 50ml. This is a zinc-based, oil-free, vegan-friendly option from the Dundalk-based family company. USP: Particularly suitable for sensitive skin, as is the whole skincare range; the company has specialised in this since 1934. You can currently get this SPF plus the Daily Lip Defence SPF20 balm for €22.95. www.gardinerfamilapothecary and the Sensitive Renew range is also at Dunnes.
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