Sun & Skin-Saving Science
CALL IT MAGICAL THINKING summer edition, believing that you only need sunscreen when you’re outdoors in a bathing suit.
“People underestimate the incidental UV exposure they get every day,” says Dr. Frauke Neuser, principal scientist at Procter & Gamble. “They apply sunscreen on holidays but not in their daily lives.”
In fact, we get approximately 18 hours a week of incidental UV exposure both outdoors and in (yes, UVA rays penetrate glass), making us more susceptible to melanoma, which is increasing two per cent annually as we spend more time in the sun. Unlike UVB’s burning rays, which cause sunburn and play a key role in the development of skin cancer, UVA have always been considered merely “aging” rays, but there is now evidence that UVA can also contribute to melanoma.
Unlike carcinoma from chronic sun exposure that affects people who work outdoors or even garden, “Melanoma is linked to extreme sunburn, affecting people who work inside and go outside and burn,” says Montreal-based oncological dermatologist Dr. Joël Claveau. “It’s very deadly and can metastasize to the brain.”
“Melanoma occurs more frequently with age,” says Neuser. “DNA damage and mutations accumulate over time as the skin’s repair mechanism slows down,” making sunscreen arguably more important now than in your youth.
Claveau recommends avoiding the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. and to wear sunglasses “to protect against UV and cataracts,” a brimmed hat, and broad-spectrum sunscreen.
All This Goes Doubly for Men
For men, the risk of melanoma doubles at age 50, doubling again at 60. (For women, it doubles at age 40, then remains relatively flat.) According to Statistics Canada, melanoma affects more men than women, with 3,500 cases reported for men in 2014 versus 3,000 for women. But men tend to be sunscreen-averse and “difficult to convince,” says Claveau, noting that melanoma is most often found on men’s backs (on women, it’s arms and legs).
For them, a dry-touch formula ( Vichy Idéal Soleil SPF 60, $29 ; La Roche-Posay Anthelios Dry Touch SPF 60, $29) is nearly imperceptible while a spray ( Coppertone Clearly Sheer SPF 50 spray, $10) is speedy to apply. Or try a clear swivel-up stick, Shiseido Clear Stick UV Protector 50+ Wet Force, $37 , which is water-resistant and easy to swipe on.
SPF in Makeup and Skin Care
Using skin care with added SPF means you won’t forget your sunscreen. Olay Regenerist Luminous Brightening & Protecting Lotion, SPF 30, $42 , tackles dark spots; Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel Sunscreen SPF 50, $20 , provides non-oily hydration with added hyaluronic acid. For sun protection with coverage, try IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC+ Cream SPF 50, $49, or Elizabeth Arden Prevage City Smart Broad Spectrum SPF 50 sunscreen, $85.
Darker Complexions Need SPF, Too
A Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology study found that while melanoma is less common in Black people, it still poses a threat and those with “intermediate pigmentation” (Hispanics and Asians) are susceptible to basal cell carcinoma, the most common form of skin cancer, caused by UV exposure. Tinted sunscreens in deeper shades blend seamlessly into dark skin without leaving the white cast.
Try CliniqueFit Workout Makeup SPF 40 in Deep, $39; Sisley-Paris Tinted Sunscreen Cream SPF 30, in Deep Amber, $190; Avène Complexion Correcting Shield Mineral Sunscreen, SPF 50+ in Dark, $35.
Mineral sunscreens are a fave for those who don’t want chemicals, but they used to leave a ghostly pallor. New improved formulas blend easily into skin, providing moisture while still giving full protection.
Try Institut Esthederm UV Protect SPF 50 Daily Sun Fluid Broad Spectrum Face Sunscreen, $39 ; or Garnier Ombrelle 100% mineral sunscreen SPF 50+, $18.
The sun’s UV rays can “dry out and open the cuticle (hair’s outer layer), making it dry or damaged,” explains Marilisa Sears, artistic director of Marc Anthony Haircare. Phytoplage Protective Sun Veil, $29, guards against UV damage while Marc Anthony Grow Long Super Fast Miracle Treatment, $4 , repels water or chlorine that can fade or alter hair colour.
Convincing a generation raised on Bain de Soleil ads that even a light tan is a sign of DNA damage is not easy. Go faux with pigment mixed into your moisturizer like Dr. Hauschka Translucent Bronzing Tint, $49 , or for bronzed limbs, try easy-to-apply foam like Jergens Natural Glow Instant Sun Sunless Tanning Mousse, $14.