Show of hands; who put on sunscreen before they left the house this morning? And no, you haven’t got the date wrong. Yes, it is February and yes, you should have put it on today and every single other day all year round.
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer diagnosed in Ireland, with cases of melanoma almost trebling in the last two decades. Ireland unfortunately also has the highest mortality rate from melanoma in Europe, with 159 deaths annually on average from the disease, according to the most recent figures from 2014 from the Irish Cancer Society.
It seems so strange that a country such as ours, where our weather feels like it’s 99% rain, that we have such a problem with skin cancer. But contrary to what you might think, even cloudy skies can have a terrible affect on your skin if it’s not properly protected. Even though visible rays may be blocked by an overcast sky, the sun’s UV rays are always present and they’re the ones that cause damage. So although it’s wintery outside, your skin will feel the effects and investing in a good sunscreen should be your top priority.
Something else that we all should be considering more is that even if we’re not spending most of our day outside, the sun’s rays are still affecting our skin throughout the workday. If you drive to work or sit beside a window, you’re still at risk of damage from the sun’s rays. Windows and glass aren’t barriers! This is why it’s essential to keep a bottle of sunscreen at work or in the car as well as in your bathroom at home. We’ve all been told that reapplying suncream is vital but it’s advice that most of us unfortunately ignore. Take it from us; if you’re invested in your skin looking its best and avoiding a cancer scare, you need to invest in SPF.
Advice from the Best
Image were lucky enough to attend the Skin Nerd Jennifer Rock’s Pop Up Skin Clinic this week in Dublin. As a dermal facialist, Jennifer is obviously invested in SPF and had some brilliant insights into just how important it is for keeping your skin looking younger for longer.
According to Jennifer, the top three factors that effect how someone’s skin ages is their genetics and their use of two things; retinol and SPF. She also mentioned that for younger skin, you should be more focused on a good serum and SPF rather than a traditional day cream, which is more suited to older skin. It is never too early to begin warding off wrinkles and signs of ageing and the younger you start using an SPF, the more you’ll see the benefit in the long run.
So we know that there’s no way out of it; we need an SPF every day. But for those of us that love using makeup every day, adding a greasy sunscreen to the mix runs the risk of ruining our look, which is an excuse for a lot of women who aren’t on the sunscreen bandwagon yet. But there are plenty of protectants out there that can be applied under your foundation with no greasiness or risk of breakouts.
The Sunscreen You Need
To start with, if you’re especially fair like a lot of Irish women, you’ll want to have a factor 50 on every day, but the minimum for everyone is said to be SPF 30. To protect against both UVA and UVB rays, look for the one that says ‘broad spectrum’ on the label. This means that it protects against all kinds of UV rays.
To avoid against your makeup melting off, try a sunscreen that is oil free. If you’re prone to breakouts, look for a sunscreen that contains zinc oxide, as this will help with inflammation and redness. There are plenty of ingredients out there that can be tailored to your specific skin’s needs. No two people’s skin is the same, but they all need a type of sun protectant.
One brand that was recommended time and again to us here at Image.ie was La Roche Posay’s Anthelios line. Ultra lightweight and suitable for sensitive skin that’s prone to irritation and prickly heat (Irish women, get on this one), the cult brand’s SPF offerings will be your new best friend. Especially as they have recently announced an expansion of the line, including a new Grab+Go travel size bottle that can be brought anywhere and lasts for a week of protection and an SPF 50+ geared to help those with hyperpigmentation.
Another luxe brand that has announced an expansion of their sun protection line is Vichy, who’s bestselling Idéal Soleil range will now have three new additions; the Solar Protective Waters in a hydration, antioxidant and enhanced tan option. Each product is non-greasy and has an active ingredient to aid with a particular skin concern.
Finally, for best results especially on sunny days, you should reapply your sunscreen every few hours, ideally removing your foundation and reapplying. Realistically, this isn’t an option for a lot of working women, so finding an SPF that you can apply over your makeup is the holy grail. Something like Supergoop’s Setting Mist, that sets your complexion with SPF 50 protection, is a god-send as it protects without compromising on your look. Sold.
If you are already concerned about your skin, or even if everything looks normal, you should perform regular checks on your moles, freckles and beauty marks to make sure everything is as it should be. The general rules are that if a mole or mark changes size, shape or colour, then you should head to your GP to get it checked. Apps like SkinVision and MiiSkin can give a general assessment of whether a mole or blemish looks concerning, meaning there’s no excuse for you to miss out on a red flag.
Looking after your skin will ward off blemishes, sun spots and wrinkles, which is a huge win for every woman. But warding off cancer is the biggest win of all.