Worried about your slowly wizening face? How we age is determined by the genes we inherit and epigenetic factors (how the environment affects how those genes express themselves). As we learn more about the way UV rays interact with our skin, we understand better how this impacts cell degradation and the photoaging process that causes wrinkles, loss of elasticity and dark age spots.
There are many things you can do to stay looking youthful as long as possible: a diet rich in anti-oxidant foods like avocado, eggs, fish and tomatoes; exercising; not smoking and reducing alcohol intake – all the usual things you know you should be doing but haven’t quite got round to yet. However, most dermatologists agree, one of the most important things you can do to prevent environmental damage is also one of the easiest habits to make: wear a UV filter, every day.
Why should you wear an SPF?
Some people still seem to associate sun damage with hot, sunny days. Did you know that 95% of UV rays penetrate glass and cloud cover, all year round, so your skin can be affected even while sat at your desk? Plus, pollution amplifies the cell damage that UV rays cause.
Dr Firas Al-Niaimi, medical director at the sk:n clinic says, “the sun has a wide array of light wavelengths. UVA in particular can penetrate deeper into the skin and break down the collagen and elastic fibres leading to leathery skin and deep wrinkles.” He adds, “you should never use SPF that’s out of date, as it will be ineffective.” So, look for the icon on the bottom of the bottle or pot which will usually have 12m (or 6m for more natural products) next to an open lid: this tells you the number months before it expires.
Think you’re safe indoors? Screens and LED lighting emit blue light (high energy visible light), so our skin has very little respite from interference – especially from that double chin gifting smart phone.
Unlike the sun creams of old, which were commonly greasy, oily and left a ghostly white sheen or an unwelcome eruption of spots afterwards, today we have state-of-the-art moisturising technology incorporated Sun Protection Factor and environmental shields. These daily hydrators won’t sit on the skin, cause breakouts, leave a shiny film or smell like a pineapple mocktail. They will absorb tracelessly, keep skin comfortable and block out those pesky rays. The only you need to remember is to apply it. There’s a choice for every skin type and budget:
The City One
Murad City Skin Broad Spectrum SPF 50 PA++++
Whether you’re lunching al-desko or you’re grabbing lunch alfresco, this city-ready high SPF will keep you protected from UV rays while blocking out the worst of the grubby air.
£60 for 50ml; murad.co.uk
The Designer One
Chanel UV Essentiel Complete Protection Gel Crème SPF 50
Now available in a higher SPF 50, which blocks out both UVA and UVB, Chanel’s Gel Crème has a light texture that absorbs rapidly. This new, advanced formula also contains Desert Yeast extract which deactivates the stress receptors that are triggered by pollution, reducing the premature appearance of wrinkles and dark spots.
£46 for 30ml; John Lewis
The Natural One
Green People Day Solution SPF 15
Sun screen filters are usually made up of chemical agents that can have a negative impact on marine and aquatic life. You might not be anywhere near a reef, but the sink you wash your face in leads to the sea eventually. Green People use natural and mineral UV filters in the form of isoamyl-p methoxycinnamate and titanium dioxide, which means your face and the earth stay protected.
£21 for 50ml; greenpeople.co.uk
The Energising One
Kiehl’s Facial Fuel Daily Energizing Moisture Treatment SPF 19
When you need to look awake, and protect your skin with a random SPF like 19, this one is your go-to. It has the same smell as the original and a slightly thicker consistency to our other favourite moisturiser.
£21.50 for 75ml; Liberty London
The Winter One
Aēsop Sage & Zinc Facial Hydrating Cream SPF 15
A lower SPF is adequate during the autumn and winter. Aēsop’s Sage & Zinc lightweight cream smells fresh, uses natural ingredients and the recyclable packaging is a plus. It won’t clog pores and also uses zinc oxide to deflect the sun’s rays.
£30 for 40ml; Mankind
The Luxury One
Dermalogica Dynamic Skin Recovery SPF 50
At the top end of the market, but it’s a best seller for good reason. Dynamic Skin Recovery feels rich enough to give long-lasting hydration but without any heaviness. You won’t notice the high SPF, but you will notice how everyone got sun burnt in the beer garden, apart from you.
£66.50 for 50ml; dermalogica.co.uk
The Tinted One
Lab Series BB Tinted Moisturiser Broad Spectrum SPF 35
Lab Series’ best-selling BB (“Blemish Balm”) offers broad-spectrum protection, extra hydration and has the added benefit of a really subtle hint of colour to smooth and enhance the appearance of the skin, in two universal shades.
£38 for 50ml; labseries.co.uk
The Sporty One
ClarinsMen UV Plus Multi-Protection Moisturiser SPF 50
Clarins is a skincare brand we trust. This one is oil-free so it won’t clog pores and it’s also invisible and sinks in without a trace. It’s water resistant, too, so can withstand swimming and summer sports like tennis and cricket.
£42 for 100ml; John Lewis
The Sensitive One
No7 Men Sensitive Care Moisturiser
If you’re skin is touchy and reacts easily, give No7 a go. Aloe vera is the magic ingredient to soothe an easily stressed out epidermis.
£12 for 50ml; Boots