We are getting close to Spring and Summer, so, what is your plan to protect your skin this year? Dry skin, over exposed skin, sun burn are all contributing factors to having an aged look that we as ladies do not want. Here are some super helpful tips to healthy looking and feeling skin in the months to come!
How to maximise your protection
With sun damage the number-one cause of visible ageing, the beauty biz is in hyperdrive developing ways to strengthen the body’s own defenses. These non-traditional layers may be the next best thing to the fountain of youth.
Growing up in Australia, slip, slop, slap has been drilled into us since birth. We know to wear sunscreen on a daily basis, to reapply every two hours (especially if you go for a dip), and to choose a high SPF (your foundation’s token SPF 15 just won’t do!).
Yet what if we told you that sunscreen alone isn’t enough? You may not be aware of the myriad of other skin protectants currently on the market. How can you go about tweaking your sun-shielding regimen? We’re here to demystify your options – with their cryptic ingredients lists and promising claims – to optimise your protection. Your skin will thank us in 10 years’ time.
First Layer : Antioxidant Serum
UV rays create damaging free radicals, which is part of the reason why they inflict damage upon the skin. Antioxidants work by specially targeting some of those free radicals, neutralizing them and giving you extra protection. Even when used alone, serums can provide up to an SPF 5 protection once absorbed.
Many ingredients are considered antioxidants – from vitamin C and vitamin E to green tea and coffeeberry, just to name a few.
We recommend an antioxidant serum such as the polypeptide-rich Image Skincare Vital C Hydrating A C E Serum, $67.60, imageskincare.com that contains multiple antioxidants. Apply to clean, dry skin in the morning – two to three drops will do – and pat in gently. Leave for 10 minutes to allow it to absorb before applying moisturizer, sunscreen and make-up.
Medik8 Firewall, $158, medik8.com.au is also a great option. This broad-spectrum anti-ageing serum works synergistically with sunscreen to protect the skin’s collagen and elastin.
Second Layer: Pigment Blocker
Adding a pigment blocking cream to your daily skincare regimen is a sure-fire way to super-size your sun protection and ward off age and sun spots, brown marks and discoloration. There are various types of blockers on the market. Tyrosinase inhibitors contain controversial skin-bleaching agent hydroquinone and kojic acid, which blocks the enzyme tyrosinase, which is needed to make melanin. PAR-2 inhibitors, such as soy and niacinamide, help to prevent pigment from reaching the skin’s top layers.
We recommend Aspect Pigment Punch even skin serum, $118.80, advancedskintechnology.com.au, which is free from hydroquinone yet a proven pigment obliterator. Or for a cheaper alternative, try Aveeno Positively Radiant Daily Moisturiser, $20, jnjaust.com.au, which contains proven PAR-2 blockers niacinamide and soy.
Third Layer: Sunscreen
To give your skin the best protection, choose a sunscreen that protects against UVA and UVB. UVA is associated with tanning, ageing and photo-damage, while UVB is associated with burning. Both UVA and UVB contribute to the development of skin cancer. Most of your standard supermarket brands will guard you against UVB, but you need to ensure you’re protected from UVA, too. As such, always look for the word ‘broad-spectrum’ on the label.
We also prefer physical, not chemical, sunscreens. What’s the difference? While chemical sunscreens contain compounds made in a laboratory, physical sunscreens contain natural minerals ground to fine powders. There are two types of physical sunscreens: zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. As physical blockers don’t decompose through sun exposure, they have a longer life on your skin. When the sun hits you, chemical sunscreens absorb the UV rays and release their energy in harmless ways. A physical sunscreen will reflect the rays, not allowing them to penetrate the skin. They should be applied on top of all your other skincare and make-up.
On the other hand, chemical sunscreens need to be applied first – so after cleansing, but before any other products or make-up. Also keep in mind that SPF isn’t an amount of protection per se. The number indicates how long it’ll take for UVB rays to redden the skin when using a sunscreen, compared to when you don’t use sunscreen. Wear SPF 30, for example, and you will take 30 times longer to redden than without the SPF 30. When you sweat or swim, it becomes less effective, so always remember to reapply.
You may remember zinc from when you were a kid. The thick formula had zero spread and looked cakey and white (or neon pink or green) on your face. You’ll be happy to know that zinc has come a long way. Our faves feature micronised zinc, which means they’re transparent and won’t make you look like you’re wearing a mask when you apply them.
Try O Cosmedics Mineral Pro SPF 30+, $45 ocosmedics.com, which contains 20 per cent zinc oxide. Mesoestetic Dermatological Sun Protection SPF 50+, $69, advancedcosmeceuticals.com.au and SkinCeuticals Ultimate UV Defense SPF 30, $61.80, advancedcosmeceuticals.com.au are great for the face, while Key Sun Clear Zinke 50+, $19, keysun.com.au is cheaper and perfect for applying over your face, neck and body for days at the beach.
Fourth Layer: Make-up
After applying your antioxidant serum, moisturiser and physical sunscreen, use a foundation or BB cream with SPF. Cream formulas such as these usually contain chemical sunscreens, which work together with your physical sunscreen to offer maximum protection. If you prefer lighter coverage or have oily skin, use a mineral finishing powder with SPF over your make-up.
Lay down the base with Face of Australia Face Base Primer 3 in 1 SPF 15, $12.95, faceofaustralia.com.au. The formula’s light texture means it fuses and blends into the skin instantly. There are also a number of face tints with SPF. Dermalogica UltraSensitive Tint SPF 30, $52, dermalogica.com.au delivers protection without unwanted oiliness and chalkiness, while Shiseido Liquid Foundation SPF 30+, $57, shiseido.com.au comes in seven shades and shields from both UVA and UVB. For a finishing powder, try Youngblood Mineral Cosmetics Loose Mineral Foundation, $77.50, youngbloodmineralcosmetics.com.au, which works as a sun-protecting foundation, concealer and powder in one for the perfect buildable coverage.
In addition to the above, some scientists claim you can tweak your diet to better protect your skin. Green tea, for example, has been found to lower your risk of skin cancer.
Sunflower oil is a good source of beta-carotene and helps make skin less sensitive to the sun, while sea buckthorn berries are known to block UV penetration and help encourage cell turnover.
When heading outdoors, you can further protect your skin by wearing protective clothing. Wide-brimmed hats – that measure a minimum of two inches around – and UV 400 sunglasses are a must for long summer days in the Australian sun.
NEXT: 10 anti-ageing tips from the pros>>