Walk into any cosmetic store and you will find creams and serums promising ridiculous things.
“Look 10 years younger in 2 weeks!”
“Smooth away those wrinkles forever!”
“Age spots? Pigmentation? Banish them in 10 days!”
Truth be told, none of those marketing claims really hold true. Commercial anti aging products promise a whole lot more than they can really deliver. They have little to no clinically effective active ingredients, and work minimally at best to reduce the signs of aging.
I’m going to tell you a little secret - the best anti aging weapon you can have out there is sunscreen. Yep, that little unassuming bottle of SPF.
The Sun, and How It Causes Aging
UV rays account for up to 80% of skin ageing. Age spots, wrinkles, freckles, pigmentation, yellowing – all these things are mainly due to sun damage.
UVB rays are responsible for tanning (and burning) your skin. These are typically highest in intensity around 10 am – 4 pm.
UVA rays penetrate right through into the deeper layers of your skin to cause photo aging. UVA rays are present during all daylight hours, and can permeate through glass and clouds. You are not safe from its harmful effects on a cloudy day or even when you are sitting indoors.
Every single time you expose unprotected skin to the sun, even on a rainy day, you are exposing it to premature aging and sun damage.
Choosing the right sunscreen
Make sure you choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen to ensure protection from both UVA and UVB rays. Key ingredients to look for are zinc oxide and titanium oxide, because these are physical blockers and will not deteriorate over the hours unlike chemical sunscreens. If you do opt for chemical sunscreens, look out for Avobenzone, Mexoryl and Tinosorb (all clinically proven UVA blockers). And make sure you reapply every few hours, especially after sweating or swimming.
*Look out for labels like “PA +++” and “Broad spectrum protection”.
*Make sure you choose a non-comedogenic and oil-free formula too, to avoid breakouts.
SPF – The Higher the Better?
Not true. You don’t have to shell out more bucks just because you think SPF 200 sounds better than SPF 30. Double the SPF value does not mean double the sun protection.
SPF 15 blocks 93% of UV rays.
SPF 30 blocks 97%.
SPF 50 blocks 98%
Anything higher than 50 is purely for marketing hype.
I recommend using SPF 30 on the face on a daily basis. Try SPF 50 if you are going to be out for long hours in the sun.
How much to use
Less is not more. If not applied liberally, sunscreen will not have the same effect in protecting your skin from harsh rays. On the face, aim for at least a ¼ teaspoon. On the body (especially when in the sun) apply enough to evenly cover the skin.
Gone are the days of sloppy white casted sunscreen. New technology has made it possible to layer up on sunscreen and still look normal.
I love BB creams for sun protection. Korean and Japanese BB creams usually contain a minimum of SPF 30 and above (We know how Asians love their vampy pale skin). Plus, they have the added advantage of being skin toned - for an even coverage and a smoother looking complexion. Good brands to check out are Dr G, Dr Wu and Dr Jart.
I don’t read Korean, but this is a really good BB cream! I use this daily to protect my skin, rain or shine.
If BB creams are not your thing, try checking out Shiseido, La-Roche Posay and Neutrogena.
And there you have it! Sunscreen is an indispensable tool in your skin care arsenal if you want to stay looking young for longer. It is never too late to start slathering on that daily SPF. If you must lay out in the sun, wear a big floppy hat to hide your face. Your older self will thank you, I promise.
Slather up and stay pretty.