We are talking about sunscreens today and I’m showing you 3 amazing SPFs for different budgets and skin types. Who doesn’t wear SPF every day? (Hand raised, me!) We all know now that protecting our skin from the sun is possibly the best way of fighting the onset of age. Not only does it reduce the effects of aging, but it also protects our skin from other damages, like burns to the skin that can eventually lead to a form of cancer known as melanoma.
I have to raise my hand because I know that I should wear it every single day, whether the sun is shining or not, but I just can’t help not using it when the sky is gloomy and I see no trace of sunshine. That happens in winter and autumn when, I’ll admit, I don’t wear SPF every day. I suppose it has to do with the fact that we see SPFs as heavy white creams, so definitely not friendly to oily skin. It also seems to be an addition to our routine that doesn’t really make any visible difference. That’s the point: when we use SPF we can’t really tell that our skin is being protected. You only pay the consequences of not using it when you get older. I’ve heard of so many famous top-models who regret not using it when they were young… So I guess we should listen to their advice and have no regrets in the distant future?
Chemical vs Mineral
As you may already know there are two types of sunscreens:
Mineral/Physical sunscreens: they sit on the top of our skin and deflect the rays when they hit our face. They contain ingredients like titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. They are effective immediately and stay longer on the skin. They are more natural than the chemical ones, so this should be your choice if you like green beauty products.
Chemical sunscreens: contain ingredients such as oxybenzone, octinoxate, octisalate and avobenzone which produce a chemical reaction with UV rays and transform them into heat, which is released by the skin afterwards. They take 20 minutes or so to be effective, are less resistant but are usually thinner, so more skin-friendly. There’s a debate on whether they can create free radicals instead of protecting us from them, though I haven’t found any definite answer on this. It’s worth mentioning that they may irritate sensitive skin.
They have a similar level of effectiveness and are supposed protect the skin from two kind of rays –UVA and UVB. The first ones are responsible for premature aging (hence A after UV) and they represent 95% of UV rays. They are painless and penetrate through windows and clouds, deep down into the skin. They produce well-known free radicals which can lead to ageing, by altering our production of elastin and collagen, which makes our skin plump and tense, and can also lead to skin cancer.
UVB, on the other hand, doesn’t penetrate clouds and glass but is the type of ray which makes our skin tan and, unfortunately for some people, burn. They too can lead to skin cancer.
For this reason, you should be looking for a sunscreen that prevents both kind of rays, that should always be written on the packaging, and you should also look for the words “broad-spectrum”. I usually opt for a SPF 50; I think that anything under factor 30 risks being ineffective. I tend to think that even if your foundation contains SPF it cannot be effective, because the amount of product required to protect your skin is a lot more than the amount of foundation we usually put on our face.
From the top: Clarins, Skinceuticals, La Roche Posay
My personal recommendations
- La Roche Posay Anthelios XL Ultra-light Fluid SPF 50
This is a chemical sunscreen. The ultra-light formulation makes it suitable for every kind of skin. It leaves a matte finish and the apparent white colour disappears totally when applied onto the skin. I really like it and think that it makes a wonderful base for make-up. I used to mix it with some drops of foundation to avoid adding that extra layer on the skin. There isn’t much more to add! It retails for £16.50 (there’s also a specific version for oily skin) and it is recommended by almost every beauty expert.
- Skinceuticals Ultra Facial Defence SPF 50
My mother uses this so I borrowed it from her. It’s supposed to be a moisturizer too, that’s why it has a thicker consistency, compared to the other two (see photo). It’s true, you can skip the moisturizing step and go ahead just using this. It doesn’t really have a matte finish, so that’s why I’m personally not a huge fan. I do think is good for mature or dry skin and it’s also easy to use – killing two birds with the one stone. If you have oily skin, you may want to use something different. This one is a physical sunscreen because it contains the renowned titanium dioxide. Price is around £35.
What these two products have in common is a chemical ingredient called Mexoryl Sx, patented by L’Oréal (the two companies are subsidiaries). This doesn’t cover the entire UV spectrum so it’s often combined with other sun filters. It is very photostable which means it doesn’t degrade in sunlight, unlike other filters, which have to be re applied many times because they become ineffective.
- Clarins UV+ Anti-pollution SPF 50
This is the most recent sunscreen I’ve purchased. It’s again a physical sunscreen but doesn’t leave a white mark once it is absorbed by the skin and it also has the lightest formula I’ve ever tried in my life. Now that I know a bit more about the ingredients I can see why. This product is full of silicones! The same that you find in most primers, just so you know. It also contains hyaluronic acid, but not a significant percentage, only featuring half way through the ingredients. There are some other extracts at the bottom of the list so I don’t think they are worth mentioning. Overall it’s far from being a green product, but the truth is that not many SPFs are! It’s a luxurious SPF that makes a perfect make-up base, just like the Anthelios one, though this is even lighter. Again, it has a matte finish and even after you have applied foundation, you really cannot feel it underneath. It has a light fragrance, but it’s a shame that it just comes in a tiny 30 ml bottle. It retails for £32 and I’m sure combination to oily and more problematic skins would love it.
From the top: Clarins, Skinceuticals, La Roche Posay
If you have very sensitive skin try a patch test with all sunscreens. That’s my personal recommendation after reading what they contain. Don’t take risks with the sun! I’ll link some videos that provide extra explanation on the topic 1, 2.
If you have any favourite sunscreens – let me know in the comments below. I love finding something new!
Have a lovely day!
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