Tips for keeping your skin safe while still looking sensational this summer.
Do you know your UVAs from your UVBs? Your broad spectrums from your star ratings? Lucy Wildman sets the record straight about staying safe while still looking sensational in the sun
We all know about the dangers of the sun. But aside from the risks of developing skin cancer, not protecting your skin from deadly UVA and UVB rays accelerates the weakening of collagen and elastin fibres in the skin.
The sun is responsible for up to 85 per cent of premature skin ageing. So how savvy are you when it comes to being sun safe?
TEST YOUR SUN SMARTS
Even people who aren’t living in the middle of a desert should wear sunscreen every day, so it’s crucial that those of us in the UAE apply it religiously, not just when hitting the beach. To get the levels of protection you see on the label, you need to apply it liberally to all exposed areas – if you’re on a budget, stick with an affordable sunscreen with a good UVA and UVB rating, and an SPF of 30 as a minimum, then you won’t mind slathering it on.
Think you’ve packed enough sunscreen for your holiday? Check again. If you’re off on a week-long beach break, you should get through around five, 200ml bottles of sunscreen. “Labs test sunscreens at 2mg per square-centimetre of skin. If you don’t apply this much, you won’t be getting the protection promised on the bottle,” says top Harley Street cosmetic dermatologist Dr Sam Bunting. This equates to 5ml or, in simpler terms, a generous teaspoonful to cover the face and hands, and two generous tablespoons to do the body once for every two hours of sun exposure.
Although technically a factor-30 sunscreen should protect your skin from the sun for 30 times longer than if you were wearing nothing at all, with so many variables to consider – from the differing strength of the sun, how much cream you apply and the various skin types – it’s better to get into the habit of reapplying your sunscreen every 90 to 120 minutes to guarantee you stay safe in the sun throughout the day. And don’t assume that waterproof sunscreens are the way out of this – they should be reapplied as frequently as regular ones – every couple of hours at least. “The formulas may be able to survive swimming and sweating better, but towelling the skin rubs sunscreen off, whatever type it is,” says Dr Bunting.
And lastly, don’t forget to protect your lips and eyelids. Between 5 and 10 per cent of skin cancers occur on these sensitive areas, so invest in a dedicated sunblock made specifically for them, and always choose sunglasses that have the ability to block between 99 and 100 per cent of UV rays.
SUN SAFE FROM THE INSIDE OUT
Supplements are not a replacement but an add-on when it comes to protecting your skin from the sun. Imedeen’s Tan Optimiser ups your skin’s sun protection with a blend of antioxidants including vitamins C and E and lycopene, which has been proven to protect against sun damage. Alternatively, weeks before and throughout your holiday, you could try eating lots of lycopene-rich tomatoes, which give your skin up to one third more protection against sunburn, and boost collagen levels, which protect against the signs of ageing.
Another matter to consider is vitamin D. Sunlight helps the body produce it and it is essential in keeping bones healthy, but
wearing sunscreen will block it. “However, you have to consider the simple facts: vitamin D is important to health, but UV is a known carcinogen” says dermatologist Dr Bunting.
“Relying on the sun for vitamin D (which skin produces in response to UVB exposure) is crazy. It’s far safer to get vitamin D from supplements or reliable dietary sources such as oily fish, eggs and milk, and keep skin protected with a broad-spectrum sunscreen all year round.”
Lastly, pop essential fatty acid supplements like Omega 3-6-9 to keep skin supple and glowing.
If you do get caught out and end up red-faced after a day in the sun, there are ways to limit the damage. The more hydrated your skin, the better your natural defence against the sun and the more efficiently it will heal, says Clarins skin expert Dr Lionel De Benetti. “Use a good after-sun product that hydrates, reduces redness and helps to repair the skin’s basal layer to ensure your skin recovers its moisture levels and is prepared for future sun exposure.”
He adds, “After exposure to the sun, the onslaught of freeradical damage is even greater.” Use moisturisers containing antioxidants to combat the effects, and up your intake of antioxidantrich fruits like blueberries, blackberries, strawberries and cherries, or dark green leafy vegetables like kale and spinach.
For extra healing effects, keep your after-sun products in the fridge – their coolness will help to soothe sore skin. Aloe vera gel is one of the best natural skin-soothers, and works brilliantly on sunburn.
If you’re prone to turning pink, mix your after-sun lotion with fake tan to neutralise a lobsterlooking complexion, and wear black until your colour calms down – it will visually turn down the red tones when you’ve overdone it on the sunlounger.
The only truly safe tan is a fake one. Preparation is key and exfoliating is essential. “If you don’t exfoliate, all other steps are pointless” says celebrity tanning expert Michaella Bolder.
Use an oil-based scrub the night before you plan to tan, or use exfoliating gloves with a moisturising shower gel all over to minimize rough patches and give you a flake-free canvas to work with. And don’t forget to wax or shave post exfoliation.
“Beware of your wrists” says Bolder. “The skin is like that on your palms – thin and with fewer sebaceous glands, so it takes fake tan very differently.” Rub in moisturiser here, on knees, elbows and ankles to help your tan blend
beautifully. And while we all know fake tan hides cellulite, it’s the opposite for stretch marks. “You can end up highlighting them because they resist fake tan and stay pale, so target them with an extra layer of colour,” says Maiya Saint of Xen Tan. Also be less heavy-handed on spots and scars. Dab a tiny dot of Vaseline on blemishes pre-tan to prevent them from becoming even darker and more obvious.
Faking it needs almost as much dedication as sun-tanning, and you should take your time with it. The perfect way to approach the fake tan is to start with a lighter-toned formulation, and give it 24 hours to see how it develops. “You can always add more the following day to build colour if it doesn’t look dark enough,” says Bolder. “Use a tinted tanner if you prefer to see exactly where you are going.”
Protect eyebrows and hairline from collecting unwanted colour with a little Vaseline, and use a foundation brush to apply fake tan to your face for the most natural effect. If you are jetting off somewhere to show off your faux glow, beware the long-haul flight –air conditioning in such close quarters dehydrates your skin, which leads to fake tan breakdown. To minimise damage, self-tanning expert James Read recommends using a super-moisturising tan formula, drinking lots of water while you are in the air to stay hydrated and carrying a small bottle of ultra-rich moisturiser in your hand luggage to slather on during the flight.
Set a two-hourly alarm clock on your phone to remind you to reapply your sunscreen.
Don’t trust clouds. UV rays penetrate your skin even if the sun’s not out.
Ensure your skin is dry before applying sunscreen, or it will dilute and rub off.
Check your shadow – if it’s short, then the sun is at its highest. Between the hours of 11am and 3pm, cover up with light-coloured clothing, wear a wide-brimmed hat, and get in the shade.
You can use sunscreen designed for the body on your face, but as the formulas tend to be heavier, it can cause breakouts. If you have oily skin, look for noncomedogenic products that won’t clog the pores, but will still protect against burning and the risk of premature ageing. Tinted versions are great, as they conceal imperfections as they protect.
Sunscreen loses its protective value after 12 months of opening, so using the same bottle from one year to the next puts your skin at as much risk as wearing no sunscreen at all. Be safe, and buy new every time you plan to hit the sunlounger.
The head is one of the most common areas to develop melanomas. To minimise the risk, wear a tightly woven, wide-brimmed hat or a scarf, and spritz hair thoroughly with a UV protection spray, to help protect the scalp and your locks. If you are a little thin on top, don’t forget to apply sunscreen directly to the scalp, neck and ears.
SUN PROTECTION DECODED
The label info you need to be aware of to stay sun safe UV – ULTRAVIOLET LIGHT This invisible radiation produced by the sun, made up of three wavelengths, UVA,UVB and UVC UVA – ULTRAVIOLET A RADIATION UVA rays have a longer wavelength and penetrate deeper into the skin than UVB rays. They are responsible for premature ageing of the skin. UVB – ULTRAVIOLET B RADIATION These medium-wavelength rays are responsible for sunburn. They damage DNA and are considered to be the main cause of melanoma. UVC – ULTRAVIOLET C RADIATION These short wavelength rays are absorbed by the earth’s ozone layer, so we don’t need any protection from them. LOOK OUT FOR THE UVA LOGO According to EU recommendations, the UVA protection for sunscreen should be at least a third of the labelled SPF. A product with this will be labelled with a UVA logo. THE STAR RATING The star rating system describes the ratio of UVA to UVB protection, with one star indicating the lowest and five stars indicating the highest ratio of protection available. BROAD-SPECTRUM SUNSCREEN Sunscreen that protects against UVA and UVB rays. Look for broad-spectrum sunscreens with both a high SPF and the UVA logo. Turn over to p56 for more tips on keeping your skin safe from the sun.
Natura Bissé Sun Defense Extreme Cream SPF 50 Dh700 Sun Defense Extreme Mist SPF40 Dh450 Sun Expert Serum Dh450, all at Harvey Nichols Shiseido Expert Sun Ageing Protection Lotion SPF30 Dh165, Paris Gallery Bioderma Photoderm Bronz SPF50 Dh99, Boots Labello SPF 30 Sun Protect lip balm Dh9, Carrefour 3 LAB Perfect Sunscreen SPF55 Dh250, Bloomingdale’s Elemis Liquid Layer Sunblock SPF30 Dh185, www.elemis.ae Neutrogena Ultra Sheer DryTouch Sunblock SPF45 Dh67, Boots La Prairie Ultra Protection Stick SPF40 Dh295, Paris Gallery
Clarins Sun Control Stick SPF30 Dh150, Clarins Boutique Dior Bronze SelfTanning Natural Oil Dh196, Areej Uniq One All-InOne treatment spray Dh100, Salon Ink Christian Breton UV Eye Protection SPF30 Dh140, BeautyBay Nivea Sun After Sun Spray Dh27, Spinneys La Prairie Soothing After-Sun Mist Dh385, Paris Gallery
Sisley Self-Tanning Lotion for Body Dh400, Paris Gallery Clarins Delicious Self Tanning Cream Dh195, Clarins Boutique
beauty The Body Shop Spa Fit Soothing and Refining Body Scrub Dh130, The Body Shop