The most important element in your skincare routine? SPF. Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light is one of the biggest causes of premature ageing as it speeds up the natural ageing process. Exposure to UV light breaks down your skin’s connective tissues, collagen and elastin fibres, in the deeper layers of your skin. And when these are compromised your skin loses its strength and flexibility, resulting in sagging skin, fine lines and wrinkles, to start with, and deeper lines to follow. The scariest thing is that once these are damaged, you can’t fix them, so using protection is hugely important. Our skin is the largest organ in our body with the longest memory: the damage that I did to my skin in the eighties, using actual olive oil to get a great tan, may not show up in my skin for years. Starting to use SPF at a young age is best. But for all of us who didn’t realise the damage we were causing, it’s not too late – we can at least prevent any further damage.
There are so many conflicting opinions about what factor we should be using. If we lived in a hot sunny country, I would advocate using the highest factor you can get, but we live in Ireland, where it’s typically not that hot or sunny, so a lower factor should be okay, unless you’re outdoors all day. This is not just my opinion but that of a leading dermatologist who works in the University of Bradford which has one of the biggest and best dermatology faculties in the world, who says that the minimum you should be using is SPF 25-30, depending on the brand you choose. If you already use an SPF50 and like it, don’t change.
Unfortunately a lot of SPFs are really white in colour and can change the appearance of your foundation, especially in photos. I have made it my mission to find SPFs that are both effective and will not affect the make-up that I apply. Here are two that I really rate:
First is the new Clarins Invisible Suncare Gel to Oil SPF30 (€23). This feels wonderful on your skin – it almost feels like it’s a moisturiser. Another thing that I love about the whole new range of SPFs from Clarins is that they are all coral-friendly, meaning that there are no ingredients in them that may cause harm to the precious coral – so it’s an ideal holiday choice.
Eminence is a Hungarian skincare range that’s new to Ireland. It is a completely organic range; they actually have a farm in Hungary where they grow a lot of the ingredients used to create their products. The primer has an SPF23, which is low for holidays but would work at home for a lot of people. It is a completely physical sunblock with zero chemicals so is ideal for those with sensitive skin.
There is a magical ingredient called Lilikoi (a yellow passionfruit from Hawaii) which will protect your skin against blue light – the light omitted from computer and device screens – which is the next big no-no in our skin’s health. It is a pricey range at €63, but worth it if you can afford it.
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