Take the hassle out of shopping for sun protection this summer

Take the hassle out of shopping for sun protection this summer

If, like Emily Ratajkowski, you went blonder while locked down, protecting your newly golden locks should be a priority.

Finding sun protection that suits you is confusing. Apart from the ever-increasing number available, new research can cast doubt on products you’ve used for years. 

The Environmental Working Group’s 2020 guide identifies chemical sunscreen oxybenzone as a potential hormone disrupter, for example (this product is currently allowed in concentrations of up to 6% products sold in the EU). It can help to know how your product protects you.

Chemical suncare contains carbon-based compounds, such as oxybenzone, octisalate and avobenzone. They work by changing UV rays into heat, then releasing that heat from the skin. They are common in makeup and fast-absorbing or zero-residue SPF products. They can be sensitising.

The second type, mineral sunscreens, (also known as physical blockers) contain active mineral ingredients like titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. These are the EWG’s preferred sunscreen ingredients. They sit on the surface of the skin and deflect and scatter damaging UVA rays away. They are also favoured by clean beauty brands, not least because chemical sunscreens oxybenzone and octinoxate harm marine life. Children, pregnant women and sensitive types should definitely plump for mineral suncare but they suit all skin types. They take a little while to absorb, which means keeping restless kids distracted, and are rare in makeup because they can interfere with colour (Bareminerals Complexion Rescue Tinted Moisturiser, €32, is a lovely exception) and often leave a whitish cast.

Best for Kids

If you buy just one large bottle of SPF for the house, make it a children’s formula. Sun protection for little ones is subject to more stringent regulations that products for mum and dad and even adults with atopic skin conditions will be safe with an SPF cream for babies, for example. It is still important to check ingredients lists as some household name-brands put denatured alcohol and perfume in children’s products, which can be irritating and sensitising. Jason Sunbrellas Kids Natural Sunblock SPF45, €14.99 at hollandbarrett.ie, is water-resistant and rich in soothing camellia and aloe.

Soltan Kids Learn to Reapply UV Detection Stickers at boots.ie
Soltan Kids Learn to Reapply UV Detection Stickers at boots.ie

Even suncare with SPF45-50 needs to be reapplied every couple of hours. SPF refers only to UVB protection and UVA can have a deeper, more damaging effect on skin cells. Soltan ‘Kids Learn to Reapply’ UV Detection Stickers, €5, at boots.ie, change colour when you need to reapply your children’s sun protection. The stickers use dermatrue™ ‘skin mimicking technology’ which has been scientifically developed to emulate the skins pore size, so it can accurately detect how skin interacts with SPF protection. The signal to reapply is triggered by an underlying UV detection layer, which measures the UVA and UVB exposure using photosensitive dyes.

Best for Him

I understand why some men want to forgo sun protection, at least on the face. It can leave skin looking greasy or with an unnatural tint (white or beige), and while men wearing makeup is cool, most aren’t about to use a powder or foundation to correct things. 

I’ve made a present of Ren Skincare’s Clean Screen Mineral SPF 30, €34 at www.spacenk.com, a couple of times. It dries completely clear and has a natural matte finish. It is an especially good choice for rosacea-prone guys. The mineral filters are mixed with a number of calming antioxidants, including aloe and cranberry oils.

Best for Oily Types

UV rays may initially dry out oily skin but the harm they inflict can exacerbate oil production long term The tricky part for oily types is finding sun protection that doesn’t leave your skin looking a shiny mess. 

Even oily skin needs moisture but plant oils and waxes are to be avoided. Murad Oil Control Mattifier SPF 45, €40.25 at https://www.cultbeauty.co.uk, is a light daily hydrator that nourishes and balances congested complexions while keeping them protected. 

Murad Oil Control Mattifier SPF 45 at cultbeauty.co.uk
Murad Oil Control Mattifier SPF 45 at cultbeauty.co.uk

The velvety finish subtly blurs the appearance of pores upon application and works to refine them for real with extracts like avocado and African yellow wood bark, which also make breakouts less frequent.

Best for Lightened Hair

If, like Emily Ratajkowski, you went blonder while locked down, protecting your newly golden locks should be a priority. Kérastase Blond Absolu Cicaplasme Heat Protector, €32.30 at shampoo.ie, is a lavender-coloured leave-in cream that fortifies lightened, highlighted and grey hair. 

Krarastase Blond Absolu Cicaplasme Heat Protector at shampoo.ie
Krarastase Blond Absolu Cicaplasme Heat Protector at shampoo.ie

Packed with hyaluronic acid and edelweiss flower, Cicaplasme seals split ends and smooths the hair fibre. Cicaplasme contains UV filters to protect against daily oxidation and pollution deposits. It also provides heat protection for up to 230°C to protect hair from heat-styling tools.

SPF isn’t impenetrable protection again melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, no matter how sophisticated the formula. Three things that are: Wearing protective clothing and hats, avoiding sunburn and staying off sunbeds.

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