Last week, I put together a big skin care routine guide. After going through the basic steps and doing a full glossary of skin care products (so you’d know your oils from your balms), I was at a thousand more words than my usual limit. So, SPF gets its own post – partly because I didn’t think anyone could take more waffle that day, but also because there are a lot of tips to share and a lot of myths to bust.
The SPF 50 Myth
At a talk by a consultant dermatologist this year, I had my mind blown. He said the difference in the level of protection offered by SPF 30 and SPF 50 is a matter of just a couple percent. I thought all the years of med school had driven him mad, but no, the guy was right. There’s not much of a difference.
That’s important to note, because I think there’s a myth that SPF 50 turns you into Sun Woman, with the power to sit in the garden all day without burning. That isn’t the case at all. SPF 50 is the most protection you can get, so it’s good for those who are very fair and sensitive to the sun, but you’ll still need to top it up regularly.
What About That D?
I was at a talk with a consultant dermatologist, and he rubbished the idea that SPF will cause vitamin D deficiency. He said if you’re worried, you can get it from food or by taking a supplement. Both of those options are safer than going without SPF.
While we’re on the minor difference point, I’ve got to reference Lisa Eldrige’s recent video on sun protection. She mentioned the higher dose of chemicals that are needed to increase SPF. Seeing as there is such a small difference between the level of protection, it might make sense for those with very sensitive skin to stick to the lower dose, so 30 rather than 50 – depending on how sunny it is. That being said, my skin is sensitive and sun cream never gives me any hassle.
Naturally Sallow Skin
Sallow skin can be burned and sallow skin isn’t a barrier to the rays that cause cancer. Yep, darker skin is more tolerant of sun exposure, but the risks stand. Just because you can get a golden tan, doesn’t mean you can skip SPF and get away with it. You might not need to go for the highest level of protection, but you need some. And yes, I know I sound like your mam.
All Day SPF
Bullshiz. Sorry, but no. I don’t trust it. A few have been tested and verified, lots have been recalled due to inaccurate claims. For me, proper protection is too important to go effing around with products that not all dermatologists agree are effective. Maybe I’ll find a good one in the future, but I don’t recommend them at the moment.
When Do You Need It?
I wear it every day. Firstly, I’m using a chemical exfoliant. Those contain ingredients that make your skin more prone to sun damage, so you’ve got to be absolutely rigorous with SPF. Secondly, I’m white as a new snowman.
If you don’t like to wear it all the time, you can check the Irish Cancer Society site’s UV Index. Enter your location, and it will tell you if you’ll need SPF that day, right down to what times you’ll need to wear it. Super clever!
It’s Never Too Late
If you got roasted at the beach as a child and went through your twenties without a touch of SPF, you’re not a lost cause. Starting to apply SPF later in life is just as important, and it can reverse some of the damage done by previous exposure.
There are two types of sun protection – mineral and chemical. Lots of chemical sun protection products contain the ingredients that minerals do, on top of the chemical protectors. That allows them to provide ‘broad-spectrum’ protection, which is defends against UVA and UVB rays.
Now, I know chemical sounds less friendly than mineral, but it’s not the enemy. It’s what I use every day, and you needn’t avoid it unless you’re allergic or intolerant. I think the rally against it has been spurred on by this ‘clean’ craze, where you can cure a missing limb with avocados. It’s good, it’s grand.
Mineral sunscreen is immediately effective but wears off faster. With chemical sunscreen, you’ve got to wait 20 or 30 minutes before you go outside. Finally, mineral sunscreen can leave a white cast on your skin – not the best for photos.
La Roche Posay Anthelios XL SPF 50 Ultra-Light Fluid, €19.50
This is my favourite sun protection for the face. Its light texture sits well under makeup, but it also feels a little bit moisturising. I find that it adds just a touch of shine. That effect is more than welcome on my dry skin, but maybe skip it if you’re prone to oil. Also, I can wear this alone because it doesn’t cast a weird white glow over my skin. Super comfortable stuff altogether.
La Roche Posay Anthelios XL SPF 50 Dry Touch Gel-Cream, €19.50
Oh, lads. This stuff is serious. If you have very oily skin or need something to last through your sweaty jogs this should be at the top of your list. It’s extremely matte. If you’ve got dry skin, drop your notions and read over the other options here. This is best left to those who actually need lots of oil control.
Vichy Idéal Soleil Mattifying Face Dry Touch SPF 30, €14.50
This is like the Anthelios Gel-Cream, only less intense. Sun protection is slightly lower, and it’s doesn’t obliterate oil with as much gusto. For normal skin in humidity and combination skin in general, it’s a good shout. Oil control, matte finish, comfortable.
Nuxe Sun Fondant Cream For Face SPF 30 or 50, €19.95
Fancy gals, I’d never leave you out. This one’s for you. It smells gorgeous, it feels lovely and rich and it’s got anti-aging properties too, on top of the anti-aging effects that sun cream itself has. You can choose your level of protection with this one; I use it in SPF 50. Bonus note – at the moment, there’s a gift-with-purchase offer for this on Cloud 10.
La Roche Posay Anthelios XL SPF 50 Comfort Cream, €19.50
I feel like my third La Roche Posay recommendation is a good place to say that I’m not sponsored by the brand. Really, the Anthelios range is just great – fair price, brilliant performance. This one is much more rich and thick, so best for dry or mature skin.
SPF OVER MAKEUP
Any powder with SPF can be used to top up your protection when you’re already wearing makeup. Most are around SPF 20, but you’d need to be using a very thick layer to get full protection. Personally, I think powder SPFs are better than nothing but not ideal.
Usually, SPF isn’t a selling point for powders, so you might have to read the packaging or ask the sales assistant. These are a few options that put SPF at the forefront:
- BareMinerals Pure Transformation Day Treatment SPF 20, €56
- e.l.f. Studio SPF 45 Sunscreen UVA/UVB Protection, $6 (online via US only)
- BareMinerals Natural SPF 30 Sunscreen, €30
- Physician’s Formula, Inc., Mineral Wear, Talc-Free Mineral Airbrushing Loose Powder, SPF 30, €12.30
Not gone on powders? You might like a mist. At the moment, I’m using Garnier Dry Mist SPF 50 over my makeup. It’s a body product, so be careful. The brand doesn’t recommend it for the face, but I’m a wild one. I can tell you that I think it’s a joy to use, but I can’t tell you to copy me without giving you a heads up on the brand’s rules. If want to give it a go (and not sue me!), check my full review here.
That’s the lot! If you’ve want more recommendations, I’ve got a post on foundations with high SPF here. For now, I’ll keep my fingers crossed that this rain fecks off so we can get a bit of use out of our sun cream stashes.