Sure, we’re more sun-conscious now than ever before, but our relationship with sunscreen is a bit like the ‘It’s complicated’ Facebook status. Dr Xen Ludick, a GP who works in aesthetic, anti-ageing and cosmetic medicine at the Skin Renewal Clinic, believes that even though many of us are wearing sunscreen regularly, we’re probably not putting on enough, or re-applying it often enough, which is why our skin is still being exposed to damage.
Time for a change of mindset, say the experts. Rather than thinking of sunscreen as protection from the sun, we should be thinking about it as the only anti-ageing treatment that really works. Yes, the only one.
“Of all the topicals” – that is, products applied to the skin – “SPF is the most important as it helps to protect against UV damage and further ageing of the skin,” confirms Dr Alek Nicolik, an aesthetic medical practitioner and founding member of the South African Allergan Medical Aesthetics Academy.
So why fork out on “miracle” anti-ageing creams if sunscreen is your very best line of defence against wrinkles, dark spots and sagging? And, with the ever-expanding range of options, there is sure to be a sunscreen that eliminates your excuses…
1. “It ruins my make-up”
Sunscreen can be sticky and hard to blend in and, to be fair; it isn’t always the best base for foundation. But have you tried using a day cream dosed with SPF?
While you need a high factor stand-alone screen for sun-exposed days (just remember, a higher factor doesn’t mean a full day’s pass in the sun, warns Dr Ludick), swap your regular moisturiser for a hydrating SPF treatment. It sinks into skin quickly and leaves it looking dewy – the perfect canvas.
2. “It makes my eyes sting”
True, it can. “Sunscreen often contains perfumes, preservatives and other ingredients that can irritate the eyes if applied too close,” explains Inge Loubser, an optometrist at Mellins i-Style in Bloemfontein.
But the switch is simple says Dr Nicolik. “Try SPF that has zinc oxide and titanium dioxide (or both) as these ingredients tend not to sting the eye area.” Loubser recommends a sun protection stick – an SPF applied in this way is less likely to get in your eyes.
3. “It takes too long to apply”
Not if you hone your technique. Keep a tablespoon within reach of your sunscreen and measure two generous spoons of it to use on your face and body, recommends Dr Ludick.
“To achieve the SPF reflected on a bottle of sunscreen (this is what protects you from the sun’s UVB radiation), you should use approximately two milligrams of sunscreen per square centimeter of skin.” In practice, this means applying the equivalent of a shot glass (approximately two tablespoons) from top to toe, he explains.
4. “I don’t like the smell”
Reach for a fragrance-free formula, says Dr Nicolik. More and more sun care brands are going this route, so there’s no reason to walk around smelling like a coconut or piña colada (unless, of course, you like the smell of coconut or piña colada). Fragrance-free is also a good idea if you have sensitive skin or skin that’s prone to eczema.
5. “It causes breakouts”
Here’s the truth: “Sunscreens don’t cause acne but they can exacerbate it,” says Dr Ludick. Not wearing sunscreen, however, isn’t an option as this significantly increases your risks of scarring and acne-related pigmentation.
“If you have acne, choose sunscreens that are oil free (oil is usually the culprit) and non-comedogenic (formulated not to block pores),” he says. “Also avoid products that are scented or dyed, as these can irritate skin.”
6. “It makes my skin look ashy”
The residue left by some sunscreens can be off-putting, especially on darker skins. If this is a problem for you, try a BB or CC cream, or a tinted moisturiser (laced with SPF, of course). The pigment in these products will blend into your skin giving you sun protection (which prevents pigmentation) and a flawless finish.
For your body, try an oil sunscreen – they give a lovely glow, and yet won’t make your skin burn like baby oil.
IMAGE CREDIT: 123rf.com