We’ve all heard the scary stories and seen the shocking images of the damage that UV rays do to your skin, but have they shocked us enough? Hands up if you don’t really take sun and UV protection into consideration when buying skincare and makeup? Well, even if you aren’t lucky enough to live in a sunshine state, the British Association of Dermatologists say that we should be using sunscreen with a SPF (sun protection factor) of at least 30 every day.
This is because even when it’s overcast and rainy, the sun’s two types of UV rays – A (longwave) and B (shortwave) – can cause serious damage to our skin (as well as causing skin cancers). Briefly, UVA is the more prevalent of the two and, because it penetrates skin more deeply than UVB, it is the one that causes the most skin damage in terms of wrinkles and ageing. UVB, on the other hand, is the radiation that is the main cause of sunburn. Both types can damage your skin all year round. And if you think that because you work inside you don’t need to be worried as much, think again – UVA penetrates glass.
But what level of protection is best? What do all the numbers and stars even mean? Well, the level of SPF (which ranges from 2 to 50+) shows the level of protection against UVB. For UVA protection, we look at the star rating that should be on the packaging; they range from 1 to 5 stars and indicate the ratio between the level of UVA protection and UVB protection. Yes, that sounds slightly confusing, but what it basically means is that for optimal protection you want to select a product with a high SPF and a high UVA star rating – the ones that offer both UVA/UVB protection are called “broad spectrum”.
So, aside from covering ourselves up head to toe in a reflective colour (which, by the way, is bright or dark colours, not white) what can we do to protect our skin every day? Slather a thick factor 50 on our face and décolletage? But I hate being sticky. Leave the house before the sun comes up and only return after sunset? People will think I’m a vampire.
Luckily for us, the skincare and makeup industry have cottoned on to our desire for ‘smart’ products that provide the sort of sun/UV coverage we need while also providing that non-sticky/non-greasy/blemishes covered/I-woke-up-like-this dewy look we all crave. If you don’t already use such products, what are you waiting for? Shop some of the top moisturisers, face suncreams and many-in-one makeup products below and feel smug everyday knowing you are looking great and protecting your skin in one fell swoop. If your favourite is not on our list, tell us in the comments!
Moisturisers (ideal if you don’t like the idea of a separate suncream step in your morning routine, but be aware that these won’t usually be water resistant)
Kiehl’s Ultra Light Daily Defense (SPF 50 plus UVA and UVB filters). It may not be cheap, but this moisturiser offers a lot of protecting-bang for your buck. It’s lightweight and oil free so it will moisturise your skin without feeling greasy. If you are serious about protecting your skin (and we all should be) then you should consider this an investment – future you will thank you.
Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream Sun Defense (SPF 50 plus UVA and UVB protection). This moisturiser is at a slightly better price point and still offers SPF 50 protection. Like the Kiehl’s cream, it is oil free and lightweight so it should feel comfortable on your skin and it hydrates for up to eight hours.
No7 Protect & Perfect Intense Advanced (SPF 30 plus UVA protection). No7 is quite well known for its good quality skincare at more affordable prices. This moisturiser offers pretty good protection and has all sorts of useful things in it like anti-oxidants, serum technology and pro-retinol. It is also available in SPF 50.
Face suncreams (ideal if you already have a favourite moisturiser/routine but want to up your protection. This is the best choice for full protection)
Glossier Invisible Shield (SPF 30 plus UVA and UVB filters). “Sunscreen for people who hate wearing sunscreen”. This gel formula leaves no greasy residue and protects from the harmful UV rays as well as environmental pollution (which also plays a big role in skin damage – seriously, we are fighting an uphill battle). Also, it smells nice thanks to the orange peel oil #winning.
La Roche-Posay Anthelios AC Anti-Shine Matte Fluid (SPF 50 plus UVA, UVB and infrared protection). This suncream offers “exceptionally high protection” in the form of a lightweight, non-greasy cream. It’s non-comedogenic which means it won’t block your pores and lead to breakouts.
Soap & Glory Make Yourself Youthful Sunshield Superfluid (SPF 50 plus UVA and UVB protection). This offering from Soap & Glory is a handy little addition to your morning routine. It is a lightweight, invisible cream which includes vitamins C and E to offer additional protection against harmful free radicals and it even helps mattify your skin (so you’re not reflective).
Makeup (ideal for fans of the all-in-one routine or when you want to be extra safe)
MAC Studio Waterweight foundation (SPF 30 plus UVA and UVB protection). MAC is known for its cult beauty products and this foundation is no exception. This gel serum formula provides weightless protection while also minimising imperfections and providing all day coverage (p.s. they also do a concealer).
Rimmel BB Cream 9 in 1 (SPF 25 plus UV protection). How can a product be a ‘9 in 1’!? Well, because it primes, moisturises, reduces appearance of pores, conceals, smoothes, mattifies, brightens and (most importantly) protects against the sun.
IT Cosmetics CC+ Cream (SPF 50 plus UVA and UVB protection). This CC (colour correcting) cream is another type of all-in-one cream that provides concealing and coverage benefits while also offering protection against the sun’s harmful rays.
For the best coverage and protection, experts recommend using suncream underneath your makeup regardless of whether it has SPF protection or not.
Written by Ciara Gigleux