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The Sunscreen Lowdown

There’s no doubt that sunscreen is an important aspect of our beauty routine. Heck, it’s an important aspect of our ‘living in Australia’ life routine and we’re pretty sure that everybody near and dear to you would be quite acquainted with the phrase ‘slip, slop, slap’.

Aussies get it.

Despite this though, we also know we don’t always adhere to the rules.

We might pop out for a run and forget to cover our face, or lay in the sun for a little longer just to get ourselves a golden summer glow – you know, live on the edge. However, the sun (and especially in Australia) is really freakin’ bad for our skin! It also will age you quicker than anything else.

Sunscreen should be the number one beauty product we have on rotation, especially while we play out in the summer sun. But like you, we know that sunscreen talk and the whole application of it can be quite confusing.

When do we need to apply? How often? Should we go for chemical? Physical? It’s all so confusing! Which is why we sat down with Crystal Patel, Director of Clinica Lase in Melbourne to help us navigate this important beauty product and remind us of the important mantra we get drummed into us from a young age:

#slip #slop #slap.

What happens to our skin when we don't wear sunscreen? 

 When we don't wear sunscreen most the UV light that hits our skin is absorbed into the deeper layers of the skin known as the dermis. This has several affects; some are positive but most are negative. On the positive side, it delivers vitamin D to the body which helps to maintain calcium levels in the blood, which is essential for strong bones, teeth and muscles. However, too much UV penetration will cause damage to the cells of the dermis, leading to a host of issues including a reduction of collagen and elastin production and associated signs of ageing, damage to melanocytes causing over stimulation of skin pigmentation and skin cancers.

What is the difference between physical and chemical sunscreens?

In a nutshell, physical sunscreens reflect UV light and chemical sunscreens absorb it. Most common sunscreens found in pharmacies and supermarkets are chemical sunscreens and they work by creating a chemical reaction between the active ingredients and the UV turning it into heat in the upper layers of the skin known as the epidermis. This is effective in preventing much of the UV from penetrating deeper into the skin where it can cause damage. The downside is that all that heat generated in the skin can cause other issues including aggravating hormonal pigmentation. Chemical sunscreens also take time before they are effective so must be applied at least 20 minutes before sun exposure to offer their full protection. Because physical sunscreens reflect UV they do not cause the same heat build-up in the epidermis and are therefore often considered a better option for the face, in particular with the preventing signs of ageing. They are also effective immediately after application. However, they are not water resistant and hence not suitable if you are likely to get wet or sweat such as when playing sport.

Side note: CLICK HERE for a little more info re. physical/chemical sunscreens. 

Try: Tint du Soleil SPF 30+ - $54.00

What SPF power should we be wearing every day in Australia when we're outdoors? How about when we're indoors with minimal sun exposure?

Whilst the best way to get enough vitamin D is via sunlight, the daily recommended amount can and should only be obtained via a short period (20-30 mins) of exposure at a low UV index. To reduce the signs of ageing, it’s recommended to only expose the body for this short period and to maintain vigilant sunscreen application on the face, neck and décolletage. At all other times it is best to wear a high SPF of 30+ on all exposed skin if you are going to be outdoors and if using chemical sunscreen, remember to apply 20 minutes before exposure. Even if you are not intending to spend any significant amount of time outdoors, incidental exposure to sunlight for relatively short periods, including through windows can lead to significant signs of ageing over time due to the extreme UV index common in Australia.  It is therefore advisable to always apply a moderate SPF sunscreen or at least a moisturiser that contains a high SPF on the face to avoid cumulative sun damage.

If our makeup already comes infused with SPF should we forego sunscreen

No, we shouldn’t rely on makeup with SPF. The main reason for this is that SPF is actually defined as an amount of protection per quantity applied and most people would use far less makeup than sunscreen meaning the actual protection could be minimal. That’s not to say makeup with SPF is a bad thing but it should be seen as an extra layer of protection, like a secret weapon in your anti-aging arsenal.  A favourite of many of our clients is the:

 Colorescience Sunforgettable Mineral Finishing Powder SPF 50 - $64.00


How would you recommend we layer our face creams/makeup in the morning? 

After cleansing your skin, I would advise applying your serums first in order of gel/water like consistencies followed by heavier preparations to ensure maximum penetration. Next would be your moisturiser then your sunscreen would be the last product to be applied before your makeup.

Ps. Below are some of our favourite physical sunscreen recommendations. We note that they may be a little harder to find than their chemical counterparts. 

Cosmedix Reflect SPF 15+ - $77.00
Aspect Hydrashield SPF 15+ - $77.00

Images: Pinterest; Words: Yadira Galarza Cauchi

Tell us, do you have a go-to sunscreen?

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