SPF: This Summer's Must-Have Product

Beauty editor Lois Johnston explores the risks of sun damage and how we can protect ourselves against UV rays.

Lois Johnston
1st May 2018
Image Credit: @glossier (Instagram)

Unless you have been in a serious revision prison you will know that last week we were blessed with a mini heat wave, which meant many of us swapped the library for the beer garden in the name of ‘getting enough vitamin D’. Consequently, this also meant that people were taking off debatable amounts of clothing and there was a lot of pink skin on show.

Most people think that because we live in the UK, the sun here isn’t as strong as it is abroad and so there’s no need to whack on the sunscreen. But surprise, surprise they are wrong. Sun damage is responsible for a shocking 90% of skin cancer cases, and those who use tanning beds are 75% more like to be diagnosed with skin cancer than someone who doesn’t. Side effects may include premature aging, uneven skin tone and blotchiness. Those who wear suncream on a daily basis are 24% less likely to show signs of premature aging, such as wrinkles and discolouration, as a result of sun damage.

If you’re a bit of a Pale Gail like me, you may have been told that you need to slap on the factor 50 otherwise you’ll burn to a crisp, but fear not, factor 30 is enough. Research shows that factor 30 protects against 96% of the sun’s harmful UV rays, whilst factor 50 protects against 98%, so the difference is marginal. SPF should be applied regularly throughout the day and should be applied at least 30 minutes before sun exposure. When choosing a suncream, opt for one which is waterproof and contains titanium dioxide, octyl methoxycinnimate, avobenzone (also parsol) and zinc oxide. It is a common complaint of suncream users that SPF can cause rashes, clogged pores and acne. To avoid this, opt for a lotion or gel which is non-comedogenic and hypoallergenic.

This could be you! Image Credit: @officialquigley (Instagram)

‘But what about my make-up?’ I hear you ask. Well, fear not, because most of your favourite products already contain SPF, mostly factor 15 but often factor 30 too. It is worth noting, however, that when choosing how to incorporate SPF into your makeup bag, bear in mind that different things work for different people. For example, if you only wear foundation for a night out, it’s not worth buying one with SPF, as this can also cause flashback on photos (nobody wants the dreaded ghost face in their photos.) So, instead opt for a product that is easy to incorporate into your everyday make-up but equally easy to avoid when getting ready for a night out.

If, like me, you hate putting suncream on your face, because it feels greasy and you don’t need to add any more oily-ness to your already oily complexion, then I recommend either a moisturiser or a primer which contains SPF. My favourite is the No7 Protect & Perfect Intense Advanced Facial Suncare because it is easy to apply and doesn’t leave a greasy film on your face. Plus, it costs just £15 and is regularly on offer in Boots. In terms of primer, opt for something like the Nars Radiance Primer, which has an SPF 35. Not only does it do its job as a primer and provide a great base for your foundation, it also gives you that I-just-spent-a-week-in-the-south-of-France glow, all whilst protecting your precious skin!

One honourable SPF mention is the Pixi Sun Mist, available for £18 at Cult Beauty. This spray is multifunctional and can be used to set make-up, protect against the sun and also refresh tired and dull-looking skin throughout the day. I personally steer clear of concealers with SPF as a feel sometimes they can create a white cast under my eyes, but in terms of foundation, Charlotte Tilbury’s Magic Foundation is not only one of the best foundations I’ve ever used, it’s vegan, comes in a wide range of shades, and contains SPF factor 15.


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