Winter is almost here, and rainy days (hopefully for Cape Town) are upon us. But, too often, South Africans chuck their sunscreen once the clouds settle in and the temperatures drop.
Are you worried about ageing? Of course you are. We all are - no matter our age. A recent Dove study suggests that only 10% of women are proud to reveal how old they are and will often conceal their real age.
Last year I attended a new skin product launch, where an asteemed dermatologist spoke and engaged in a Q and A session with beauty editors. The questions ranged from everything from anti-ageing to skin conditions like rosacea.
Yet what I took away from this day was one thing: Sunscreen. When asked which product one should spend money on in terms of anti-ageing, dermatologist Willie Visser said just this, sunscreen. We were thinking along the lines of fillers, an expensive serum, an eye cream, maybe. Nope. Sunscreen.
Be it on a budget or not, sunscreen. Pigmentation, sunscreen. Delay of ageing, sunscreen. So really, anti-ageing skincare regimes can be acquired and are accessible by much more people than originally thought.
I know, it seems, almost… obvious. How many times have you heard this? Yet, how many of you actually wear a sunscreen every day? I am not talking about slapping the odd bit on when you head out to the beach or before scaling some mountain side. No. Every day. Even if you’re not really in the sun during the day.
We are often told that no, it's, stress, lack of sleep, bad genes, a bad diet, pollution and what not are the main factors contributing to the ageing process. Yes, said Dr. Visser. Of course when you look tired, you will have discolouration and dark circles/bags under your eyes. These factors certainly don’t add anything good. But the actual hastening of ageing happens when we come into contact with the sun.
However, and focus now: one of the most important, and often overlooked things about sunscreen, is that it has the right texture and scent that will convince you to actually use it every day.
Not just on a sunny day
The American Academy of Dermatology reports that even on cloudy winter days, 80% of the sun’s damaging ultraviolet (UV) rays can penetrate your skin. In fact, according to Dr. Frank Schwanke, your skin is more responsive to UV rays during the chilly season.
He explains that melanin, which causes the pigmentation in your skin, is generated as a reaction to these rays. Less UV rays on colder days, results in less melanin being produced. So, when the sun does decide to show, your skin is more sensitive to it.
This is true even when snuggling under the covers watching Netflix, or driving home from work. Unless it has a UV coating, UV rays can also penetrate the glass of your room’s window or car windscreen.
NOTE: Make sure your sunscreen has both UVA and UVB protection. UVA rays penetrate the skin more deeply while the UVB is the chief cause of sunburn and skin reddening according to SkinCancer.org.
When to apply, SPF and what to apply
Dr. Noor Almaani recommends applying sunscreen regularly, all year round. She mentions that 20-30 minutes before going outside is the best time to lather it on. 30ml of product will cover your body and ¼ teaspoon, your face.
Or use the shot glass method...
It doesn’t matter what your skin colour is, we all need sunscreen. Very fair-skinned humans need a bit more than someone with very dark skin, yes, but having a dark skin doesn’t mean you are exempt.
The type of sunscreen you need depends on your skin type, where fair skin burns very easily and deep; dark skin, hardly ever. Sun Protection Factor (SPF) signals how long your skin will take to burn when being exposed to sun. The darker your skin, the lower the SPF needed.
Total Health Magazine points out that you should also consider whether your skin is dry, normal, combination or oily. Dry and normal skins agree with lotion and oil-based sunscreens. For oily or combination skin, lightweight lotions or spray-on sunscreen will do the trick.
If you have acne, stay clear of water-resistant sunscreens, as these could agitate the skin. Sadly, dark-skinned acne sufferers scar more easily, and are susceptible to hyperpigmentation. This can however be avoided with sunscreen, making it vital for them to wear it.
Here are some of the best sunscreens (they're lightweight, they smell nice and they won't cause breakouts so you can actually use them daily):
- IQ SPF30 Sun Care Daily Defence 100ml, R120 at Clicks.
- The Vichy The IDEAL SOLEIL Range and Bioderma have wonderful sunscreen ranges as both cater for all skin needs like hyperpigmentation etc. Sensai Silky Bronze, Cetaphil, Xeroderm, Environ RAD, Avène Solar Very High Protection Emulsion SPF50+ and La Roche-Posay are also fantastic and all recommended by dermatologists.
- Eucerin is another of my favourites as its Eucerin Sun Gel-Creme Oil Control Dry Touch SPF 50+is perfect for those who are acne-prone or avoid sunscreen because it causes breakouts, etc. This is perfect!
- Nivea is of course always a superb budget-friendly option.
- Caribbean Tan is, of course, no sunscreen, but is ideal for those lusting after a safe, but solid tan.
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