We spend whole rent cheques on skincare and apply it with forensic rigour. We're dejected when we notice a third line around our eye, that does indeed, resemble a crow’s foot. And yet we’re still not good at SPF. Despite the fact that studies show UV exposure to be responsible for 80% of visible signs of facial ageing. And that's before we even get to skin cancer, global cases of which, according to Melanoma UK global will reach half a million by 2040 - an increase of 62% since 2018. According to aesthetic doctor Dr David Jack "an ageing population, increased travel to hot countries, and the continued use of sunbeds” are all to blame. On the point of the latter, frequent use of a sunbed before the age of 35 increases changes of skin cancer by a staggering 75%.
But back to SPF, because there’s stuff that shouldn’t still confuse us, but definitely does, say for example, to what the 'SPF' actually relates. “Factor numbers indicate the amount of UVB light that’s filtered,” says Dr Jack. “SPF 30 filters around 97%, while SPF 50 filters around 98%." And then there’s the categorisation of UV rays. “People don’t realise that although UVA rays don’t change the colour of your skin, i.e. burn it (that's UVB), they’re often penetrating deeper causing more harmful skin damage,” he warns. Those who are most at risk? “People with 100 moles on their body,” says Dr Anton Alexandroff of the British Association of Dermatologists. If you’re not prepared to count, “it’s the approximate equivalent to 11 or more on your arm,” he says.
Consultant Dermatologist Dr Anjali Mahto says it's the labelling that's flummoxing. “Compared to laboratory or clinic trails, most people underuse sunscreen, which means they’re not as protected as they think they are. It’d be much more useful to say use half a teaspoon for the face and neck, for example”.
Gosh, you only came to decide which SPF to take to the park, now you’re allowed to sit out all day. You understand the importance, so can I stop with my wittering already? Ok, let's get into the niceties of new-gen SPF.
“If you have sensitive skin, inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis go for mineral sunscreens which contain titanium, zinc, or iron,” says Dr Mahto.
Slightly tinted, this mineral SPF 50 gives a nice glow, while working to gently increase the turnover of cells using AHAs. Also, avoiding any confusion as to how much to apply, one pump is designed to cover the whole face.
A make-up skincare hybrid, this high-protection spray also blurs imperfections and mattifies oily complexions.
Water and sweat resistant, lightweight and non-sticky, for running, cycling, or you know, child’s posing in the park.
For those who purport to understand the necessity of SPF but still, for whatever reason, don’t manage it. It could not be easier, as evinced by one review that simply and perfectly reads: “Like putting on air”.
A lot like the above, this goes over make-up without a trace. No excuse not to have it in your bag, on your balcony, or by your window.
Infused with beta-carotene (an antioxidant known to help colour skin), this silky water has the nourishment of an oil, but with none of the grease or transfer. It's good for face and body, and won't irritate sensitive skin.
The rapid decline of coral reefs have, among other factors, been attributed to Oxybenzone, an ingredient found in over 3,500 brands of sunscreen. With an estimated 14,000 tonnes of sunscreen ending up in oceans per year, it’s unsurprising that Mexico and some parts of Hawaii have banned any product that contains the ingredient. Needless to say, the below four formulas do not.
With niacinamide to halt hyperpigmentation, hyaluronic acid to plump, and protection against heat stress and the breakdown of collagen, it’s easier to say what this mineral sunscreen doesn’t do.
The French brand was among one of the first to ban controversial ingredients from its formulas. In addition to those that bleach and deform coral, they’ve also removed those believed to be endocrine disruptors (chemicals that can interfere with your hormones). A lightweight sweetly-scented milk cum water.
This comes out thin and fast and the 360 nozzle also means you can apply it while lying supine - no angling it every which way to get only but a wheeze of air. It smells delicious, is cooling on skin, leaves zero trace, and is packed with plant-based ingredients and antioxidants.
A Florida export, this dermatologically tested and vegan lotion smells of sundrenched holidays. Waterproof for approximately 80 minutes too, with no danger of damaging the reef, or er, your local pond life.