by Clare Jennings and Robecca Leyden
In the words of the late 90’s Baz Luhrman’s The Sunscreen Song... ‘Wear Sunscreen. If I could offer you one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it’...
Me too, Baz. Me too. Over the last four years as I have entered the realms of the skincare nerd life, I have learned that without a doubt, sunscreen truly is the most important step of your skincare routine. You can use all the hydrating toners, and fancy serums, and gold containing moisturisers your heart desires. But if you are not applying (and re-applying) sunscreen every single day at the end of your routine, then you may as well just not bother. And I don’t mean to be an alarmist here. But sunscreen does so much more than just stop you getting sunburnt.
Every person should be using a Broad Spectrum (or Full Spectrum) sunscreen, of AT LEAST Sun Protection Factor (SPF) 30. It will protect you from exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet radiation (UVA and UVB). These two different types of ultraviolet radiation damage our skin in different ways. UVA rays like to get right down in to our skins dermis layer, causing wrinkles, dark spots, collagen depletion and premature aging of the skin. UVB rays are the ones that burn our skin. And here in New Zealand, we are very aware that our sun is very bitey. And it loves to burn us. Badly.
And too much exposure to UVA and UVB rays can cause skin cancer.
The rates of skin cancer in this country are alarming . According to the New Zealand Cancer Society, skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the country. Around 500 of our beloved New Zealanders will die every year. Protecting yourself from developing skin cancer should be of utmost importance to all of us.
Sunscreen also does some other things. Magic things. Did you know that if you use a vitamin C serum in your morning skincare routine, and you apply sunscreen after your moisturiser, an exciting thing happens. Have you heard of Free Radicals? They are unpaired (and therefore unbalanced – thanks 5th Form Chemistry) oxygen atoms, that seek out other atoms to pair with in order to become balanced. Including your skin cells. They then begin the chemical process of oxidation. Vitamin C is an ANTI-oxidant, and therefore has the ability to stem that process. Sunscreen also does this, just in a different way. Paired together though, sunscreen and topically applied vitamin c provide a double whammy effect, working in synchronicity to protect your beautiful skin.
And right here right now I would like to just respectfully rebut something that I’ve heard people with deeper or darker skin tones state in regards to sunscreen... Yes. You also need to wear sunscreen. Very much so. We all need to protect ourselves from the suns harmful effects. So please do me a solid, and slather that sunscreen everywhere. Please!!!
This piece is not sponsored in any way by any brand. But I wanted to give you a few suggestions of sunscreens for the face, available easily in New Zealand. We definitely need to be using sunscreen upon our entire person, but I’m going to speak specifically about sunscreen for faces, as I’m a skincare nerd, and that’s what I know most about.
There are two different types of sunscreen – chemical and physical. Chemical sunscreens use organic (carbon based) compounds, such as octinoxate or oxybenzone to name just two. They work by absorbing the UV rays, changing them in to heat, then expelling that heat from the skin. Typically they are thinner in consistency than physical sunscreens, and often that means they sit better on the skin and under makeup. Physical sunscreens use mineral based compounds, such as titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. They work by forming a barrier on the skin and deflecting the UV rays, a bit like a mask, and restricting the ability of those rays to penetrate and damage the skin. They are often heavier on the skin, and can sometimes (but not always – depends how they are formulated) leave a white layer over the skin that can take a while to sink in. In my opinion either are acceptable, and I really don’t have much of a preference. To me its about how it feels on my skin, and how much I enjoy using it. It could be scientifically the best sunscreen in the world, but if I hate using it, its a goner.
Lets take a look at a few.
My current – maybe all time – favourite sunscreen for the face is the Mecca Cosmetica To Save Face SPF50 sunscreen. This is a chemical sunscreen that has been incredibly elegantly formulated. It goes on like a dream, sits perfectly under makeup, has a slight peachy tint which helps it to easily blend in to most skintones, has quite a lovely light scent, and I can’t find a single thing I don’t like about it. They have now released a new version formulated without oxybenzone, and honestly, I really don’t rate it. I accidentally purchased it recently, and couldn’t figure out why the sunscreen I previously swore by was all of a sudden balling up on my skin, leaving orange residue round my brows and hairline, stinging the absolute crap out of my eyes if it got in them when previously I could apply it actually on my eyelids with no issue. It may not behave that way for everyone, and the skincare I use under it could very well affect the way it behaves on my skin. But to my mind, the original version is the mac daddy.
A mineral sunscreen that I also love is the Clinique SPF30 Mineral Sunscreen. This mineral sunscreen sets itself apart from others in this category for me by leaving zero white cast, being thin and wonderful to apply, sitting beautifully under makeup, and just generally going around being utterly delightful. It uses Zinc oxide as its active SPF ingredient, and its a fabulous choice for those who prefer to go that route in their sunscreen selection.
Pure Shade by NZ Sunscreen Company
I'm a huge fan of this sunscreen because it's SPF 50 and made in New Zealand. While I love made in NZ in general, it is especially important with sunscreen because we have the strongest UV rays in the entire world. Even if you're someone that doesn't really burn, you come to NZ and you burn. Pure Shade is fantastic because it was developed to work as a brightening cream and a moisturiser as well as maximum sun protection. Plus they come in great make-up bag or handbag sizes. I'm also a huge fan of their Pure Shade Anti-pollution Brightening Repair if you do accidentally get too much sun.
Skin Shield SPF 30 by Emma Lewisham
By now you have probably heard of this Kiwi taking the beauty world by storm. Featured in Vogue, Allure and Harper's Bazaar AND backed by environmentalist Dr. Jane Goodall - This brand is truly environmentally friendly. The sunscreen does not disappoint either; not only are you getting UV protection this product also boasts ingredients that improve visible signs of ageing, Hydrating, plumping, brightening and helps firm skin.
So there you have it, our personal favourite sunscreen recommendations. We hope you have a great and sun-safe summer!