It's winter! The weather is wet and cold, the John lewis advert has aired and you are planning your dinner parties. You may not think it but the sun still shines and it isn't to be taken for granted.
An orb that's powerful enough to illuminate and radiate our entire planet can also do damage to your skin. We wrongly forget that winter sun is still as strong as summer and yet we never take the same precautions. That’s why every year dermatologists and skincare specialists recommend the regular use of sunscreen every time you step outside into the sunny conditions.
Yet at this point in the year most continue to ignore professional advice, then start panicking when wrinkles and other skin discomforts hit them hard. Then there's the statistics (yeah, those. "But you can make statistics say anything" True, Sometimes even the truth!). According to the newest research, an estimated 90% of non-melanoma skin cancers are associated with exposure to UV rays from the sun, the vast majority of melanoma cases are linked to sunburns. Then there’s premature skin ageing, with the same percentage caused by the sun.
There are some key factors to get to grips with before settling on one specific sun-care brand:
Active ingredients: Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are elements that absorb rays and reflect them from the skin, while octocrylene and octisalate help stabilise avobenzone for longer stretches.
Broad-spectrum coverage: You want something with UVA and/or UBV protection to prevent any age-related damage or burnt skin.
Moisturisation: Dry skin requires hydration, so grab a sunscreen with lanolin, oils, and silicones that aren’t hazardous to skin.
SPF rating: Anything with a sun protection factor of 15 or higher will coat your face and body.
Water resistance: The FDA labels any sunscreen “water-resistant” that can hold its SPF protection for 40 minutes within contact of perspiration. Some manufacturers exceed these expectations and deliver up to 80 minutes.
Do you Need Separate Face and Body Sunscreens?
This is an age-old debate; with the upshot being "can they be used interchangeably?" Some arguing that it's just a marketing ploy to get you to buy two identical products in different bottles. The truth however: No. Much as we’d love to save you money on suncare expenses, both products are designed for very specific needs.
This type of sunscreen is often formulated to be easily and quickly absorbed, must be light in texture, non-comedogenic (non-clogging to the skins pores), and offer the same amount of sun protection as body versions. Manufacturers make them with the intentions of decreasing skin sensitivity and ensuring no reactions occur, especially since facial skin is more sensitive to irritation. Experts suggest keeping body sunscreen away from the face, primarily “dry-touch sprays” as those come loaded with alcohol and dry out the more delicate facial skin.
Most of us (yep, we're guilty of it too) get lazy and don't see the issue with slapping some body sunscreen on our faces. As you may have read above, this may not be the wisest decision. Body sunscreens are formulated to be much thicker, sold in bigger volume bottles, and most are comedogenic-made – allowing dust and pollutants to abrade the skin until washed off. They are purposefully hard to wash off as they are made for beach / poolside use where you want the protection factor ever while paddling in water.
How about sunscreens marketed as both? Good question. Much of the active ingredients used in sunscreens are found in both categories. So that’s always a good sign. Many believe that if irritants such as alcohol or fragrances aren’t found in either solution, then they can both be applied to your sun care regimen. That’s rarely ever the case though.