Here in the northern hemisphere summer is in full swing and during this time of the year sun protection is more important than ever. Since revamping my skin care routine earlier this year, I’ve done a lot of reading and research on the topic of sun care products. Today I wanted to share with you which sun protection products I’ve incorporated into my routine.
Your most effective weapon against sunburn is, of course, a good sunscreen. In addition to causing sunburn, UV-rays also create free radicals which cause skin damage and aging. To protect your skin from the harmful effect of UVA and UVB rays it’s important to wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 30. I wear sunscreen on my face almost every single day except for days where I’m not leaving the house. I’m admittedly a bit more lazy when it comes to putting sunscreen on my body which I basically only do when going to the beach. I know, I know…
The most gentle type of sunscreen and the one that I prefer for use on my face is mineral sunscreen, which works by reflecting and scattering UV-rays. Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide both fall into that category so if you prefer mineral sunscreens then look for those in the active ingredients list. Zinc oxide offers a wider protection against UVA rays than titanium dioxide so your mineral sunscreen should always contain some amount of zinc oxide. The best all-mineral sunscreen I’ve used to-date is the Clinique City Block Sheer Oil-Free Daily Face Protector (1.4 oz, $22). Unfortunately, it’s only SPF 25 which isn’t quite enough for the summer months but may still be okay if you’re sitting in the office all day like me. During my recent vacation I was using the Clinique Super City Block Oil-Free Daily Face Protector Broad Spectrum 40 SPF (1.4 fl oz, $22). This sunscreen contains a mix of mineral and chemical active ingredients and I’m really not liking the texture quite as much but it’ still a very good sunscreen for those days where you’re out in the sun all day.
In addition to a good list of active ingredients, it is also beneficial for your sunscreen to contain an array of antioxidants and skin-repairing ingredients. Think of this as a your second layer of defense. Any UV-rays that may penetrate your first layer of UV filters will cause free radical damage. Antioxidants and skin-repairing ingredients will protect you from that. Antioxidants shouldn’t replace your sunscreen but they’re another good tool in the shed, so to speak. Both the Clinique City Block Sheer and the Super City Block contain a good dose of antioxidants which is another reason why I like them. I hope I don’t sound pushy talking about these two products but they are simply the two sunscreens I’ve used (and liked) since really getting into a good skin care routine and I don’t have much to compare them to. However, Paula Begoun has some nice best-of lists for sunscreens, here and here, that you might find helpful when trying to find a sunscreen that’s right for you.
If your sunscreen doesn’t contain a good dose of antioxidants or you simply want to supercharge your routine, you might want to consider adding an antioxidant serum (or two) to your skin care regimen. I’ve been using the Paula’s Choice Resist Ultra-Light Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum (1 fl oz, $30). It’s a weightless, fast-absorbing serum that’s really easy to add to your routine without feeling like you’re adding a ton of product to your skin. It’s not sticky or greasy so it really doesn’t feel like anything is there. I like to pair this serum with the Caudalie Polyphenol C15 Anti-Wrinkle Defense Serum (1 fl oz, $62). This serum contains 15% stabilized vitamin C (in this case ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate) which is a potent antioxidant. It also contains hyaluronic acid to moisturize and plum your skin. Paula’s Choice makes a similar serum, the Resist C15 Super Booster (0.67 fl oz, $45), which also contains 15% vitamin C, albeit in a different from (ascorbic acid). I haven’t tried that one yet so I can’t really say much about it.
The part of the face that many of us forget when it comes to sun protection are the lips. The skin on your lips can burn just as easily as the rest of your face so it’s important to also add a lip product with SPF to your routine. Luckily, plenty of lip products now come with SPF so there is a wide array of products to choose from. I’ve really been enjoying the Neutrogena Revitalizing Lip Balm SPF 20 in Healthy Blush (0.15 oz, $8.99). The shade is a great my-lips-but-better color so this is an effortless way to give your lips some TLC this summer.
Another part of beauty routines that is often forgotten when it comes to sun protection is hair care. While hair is technical just dead cells, it’s impacted by the sun and hot temperatures just as much as the rest of your body. Adding salt water or chlorine from the pool to the mix can add extra damage to your tresses and dry and broken ends are the result. I like to give my hair some extra love by using a leave-in treatment with UV protection like the Paul Mitchell Color Care Color Protect Locking Spray (8.5 fl oz, $12.50) or the Number 4 Super Comb Prep & Protect (6.8 fl oz, $32). The extra nourishment works wonders on my locks to keep them shiny and healthy all summer long.
Lastly, let’s not forget about the non-cosmetic tools that can give you some sun protection. A hat is an easy way to get your head out of direct sunlight and protect it from harmful UV-rays. If you’ve ever burnt your scalp, you know what I’m talking about. I don’t wear a hat every day here in the midwest but it was a must-have during my recent vacation to Florida and I still like to wear it when being in the sun all day. More important than a hat for everyday use are a good pair of sunglasses. Not only do they protect your eyes from harmful UV-rays, they also keeps you from squinting in the harsh sunlight. Repeated squinting will lead to premature wrinkles and crow’s-feet and nobody wants that. So wear your sunglasses, even if you’re only outside for a short amount of time!
What products have you added to your routine now that summer is finally here?
- Journal of Investigative Dermatology Symposium Proceedings (2009) 14, 56–59
- American Academy of Dermatology: New study supports recommendation to use broad-spectrum sunscreen for protection against skin cancer and early aging