1. Weather Warning
It’s deceiving, but it’s not the sun’s heat that burns the skin. The heat we feel is infra-red radiation, but sunburn is due to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. So, the risk factor for a burn is not how hot it is, but how light it is (that’s why we can burn on a cool, cloudy day).
2. Cover Up
Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world – the estimated number of the new cases of melanoma skin cancer diagnosed in 2017 was more than 13,000 and more than 1800 deaths were recorded this year. The Cancer Council recommends using an SPF 30 or higher and, when UV levels are 3 or above, also covering up with protective clothing and seeking shade.
3. The Right Sunscreen
Always choose broad-spectrum sunscreen, such as Clinique City Block Sheer Broad Spectrum SPF 25 ($40), because it protects against both UVA (which causes premature ageing) and UVB (which burns the skin). Skin experts now regard both UVA and UVB as potentially cancer-causing – UVB is absorbed by your DNA, while UVA generates free radicals, which can cause DNA mutations that can lead to cancer.
4. No Regrets
According to research by Nivea, 70 per cent of Australian women can recall at least one episode of sun damage regret, mostly due to not applying enough sunscreen. How much is enough? Nothing less than one teaspoon for the face, and the same for each limb.
5. How to Apply
If you’re using a spray formulation, be particularly liberal. “Spray-on sunscreens are problematic as the coverage they give is too light and there is a risk of skipping areas. Your chance of burning is higher,” says dermatologist Dr Natasha Cook. “Also, if there is a breeze it blows off in the wind!” You can minimise this by spritzing the formulation on your hand first and then applying it. Many people avoid aerosol sprays as they are easily inhaled, but if you find them handy, the water-resistant Clarins Sunscreen Care Spray For Body SPF 50 ($40) is particularly family friendly.
6. SPF 30 Versus SPF 50
Is a higher SPF better? SPF 5+ gives you a 98% filter, while SPF 30+ gives you a 96.7% filter, so the difference is minimal. “However, because most people don’t apply enough sunscreen, the extra ingredients in an SPF 50+ means that, even if you don’t apply it liberally, you’d still be getting more out of it,” says Paula Begoun, founder of Paula’s Choice Skincare.
7. Sun Blockers
Dermatologists often recommend physical sunblock (which contain zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide and work by sitting on top of the skin and deflecting the sun’s rays) for sensitive skins. “Titanium oxide and zinc oxide are inert, meaning they do not interact with the skin’s immune system and therefore do not cause any irritation or allergic skin reactions.” says Dr Cook. Try Invisible Zinc SPF 30+ Tinted Daywear ($32), which also helps even out skin tone.
8. Go Fragrance-Free
If your skin reacts to sunscreen, it might not necessarily be because of the synthetic sunscreen ingredient – it could be a preservative or fragrance in the formula. Try a fragrance-free product, such as Natio Daily Defence Face Moisturier SPF 50+ ($17.95).
9. Wipe It Away
The biggest downside to a physical sunblock is usually the texture. “Minimal sunscreens tend to feel heavier on skin or look white.” says Paula. Any white residue is easily removed at the end of the day with an oil based cleanser and cotton muslin cloth, or We Are Feel Good Inc. Sticky Zinc Face Wipes (25-pack, $9.95).
10. Stop Breakouts
If sunscreen causes you to break out, Sydney-based beauty expert Jocelyn Petroni – who is known for her bespoke facials and has worked with some of Australia’s most famous faces including Miranda Kerr – says it’s probably because of the excess build-up of dead skin cells and grease. “Ensure you double cleanse and thoroughly exfoliate your skin regularly.” she says. “Look for an exfoliator that is dense with small granules so that it can lift away dry or dead skin cells, and remove impurities and build-up from within pores.”
11. Organic Solutions
Some physical sunscreens contain nanoparticles. While the Cancer Council says current evidence does not show that nanoparticles pose a health risk, if you’re concerned, try Soleo Organics All Natural Sunscreen SPF 30+ (from $14.95). “We believe it’s important to choose a sunscreen that is made of all natural and organic plant ingredients and micronised zinc that provides high SPF protection and water resistance,” says Leo Fung, chief technical adviser at Soleo Organics.
12. Ocean Friendly
One common synthetic broad-spectrum ingredient that is potentially concerning is oxybenzone, also called BP-3 or benzophenone-3. Oxybenzone has been shown to deform juvenile coral and speed up coral bleaching when it ends up in the water, having washed off people’s skin. If you’re looking for a BP-3 free sunscreen, try Sun Bear Sunscreen SPF 50+ ($34.95). The product also has recyclable packaging.
13. Double Up
Do you need to bother with sunscreen if your make-up already contains SPF? Absolutely, says Lancôme national training manager, Pamela Nicol. “For full protection, a sunscreen plus a BB cream or a foundation with SPF 50, are highly recommended.” We love the ultra-light Lancôme UV Expert XL-Shield BB Complete SPF 50 ($85).
14. Remember To Reapply
If you need to reapply SPF over your makeup during the day, touch ups are easy with the Australian-made Mecca Cosmetica In A Great Light Compact SPF 30 ($60).
15. Luscious Lips
Your pout needs protection, too. “The lips are fragile as they have just 6 layers, in comparison to the rest of the skin which has 16 layers.” says Pamela. We love the Mecca Cosmetica Tinted Lip De-Luscious SPF 25 ($30) in Peach, which protects and nourishes lips but also looks pretty.
16. Skin Types
Consider your skin type when choosing sun protection. Dry-touch formulations such as Bioderma Photoderm BB Cream with SPF 50+ ($36.99), offer a matte finish, which is particularly handy for people with combination or oily skin types.
17. Sun Exposure
Staying out of the sun is the best protection against pigmentation. “Melanin production is triggered by both UVA and UVB.” says Jenifer Nguy, scientific communications and education manager for skincare cmpany La Roche-Posay. UVB rays are most intense between 10am and 4pm, while UVA rays are present all day. “The face is often most vulnerable as UVA radiation can penetrate glass and affect you in an office or car.”
18. Hydrate You Skin
Sun exposure also causes skin dehydration, so counteract any sun-induced skin stress with a cooling, intensely hydrating moisturiser. We love the fast-absorbing Dr Hauschka After Sun ($32), which contains skin-soothing naturals like marigold, ice plant and quince seeds.
19. Food For Thought
Accoding to nutritionist and medical herbalist Karen Taylor of Taylor-Made Nutrition, botanical antioxidants can help counteract sun damage. “Recent studies have shown that resveratrol, from the skin of grapes, can reduce oxidative stress and inflammation caused by sun exposure. Curcumin, from turmeric, has also been shown to inhibit sun-induced skin damage.” says Karen. “Up your intake of grapes, berries and turmeric, or supplement with a good quality resveratrol or curcumin formulation.”
20. Natural Healer
If you do get burned, don’t moisturise with oils as they trap the heat and intensify the problem. “Aloe vera is a soothing, hydrating remedy.” says Jocelyn. “It can be broken straight off the plant and rubbed directly onto the skin. If you buy aloe vera gel, keep it in the fridge for added cooling benefits. Apply a thick layer after a day of sun exposure and allow it to soak for 20 minutes before removing any residual product with a face cloth.”
Photography: Corrie Bond
Styling: Lara Hutton
Words: Juliette Winter