Sunburns and Wrinkles Ain't Cute - Why I'm Religious About Suncreen
I'm ashamed to even admit this, but until about a year and a half ago, I rarely wore sunscreen on a daily basis (permission to throw me in skincare jail immediately). Now don't get me wrong, my pasty-ass-British-self was no stranger to sunscreen - I've always been sure to lather up all-over from a young age when spending a day in the sun, but that was largely to avoid the tomato look, rather than the worn-in leather bag look that I am now hyper aware of. As it turns out, both burning and aging seem to now be things that I give a shit about. Yes, sunscreen is your number one defense against that thing called aging. These days, I'm proud to say it is extremely rare to find me sans sunscreen on the visage, even if I'm spending the vast majority of the day inside. What can I say, I'm both vain and a hypochondriac. Wrinkles and skin cancer are like, some of my bigger fears alongside crippling loneliness and turbulence.
For all intents and purposes, I'm only going to be discussing facial sunscreen in this article, because again, vanity, but all of you should really consider applying sunscreen to all exposed body parts on the daily because skin cancer is alive and real people!
So, my absolute favorite tinted sunscreen at the moment is the ALASTIN Skincare HydraTint Mineral Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 36 (see above). This is an all-physical, broad spectrum sunscreen packed with antioxidants, which are vital to use in combination with your SPF for maximum anti-aging protection. The consistency of this one is slightly thicker than your average tinted sunscreen, providing slight coverage and a dose of healthy color, but somehow acting as an absolutely FANTASTIC base for any product you apply on top of it. Seriously, it's absurd how well my makeup stays on during the day with this stuff under it, even without my favorite setting spray (Make Up For Ever Mist & Fix). I'll even apply it under my more full-coverage foundations before going out at night simply for its ability to help my makeup grab on (and I DON'T believe in makeup primers as a general rule, so therefore I loathe touting this as a primer, but like, it is sort of a good one).
My theory as to why this product acts so well to keep makeup put is two-fold. Firstly, one of the main ingredients in the HydraTint is zinc oxide, probably the most common ingredient used in physical sunscreens alongside titanium dioxide (also present in this), and a natural astringent, meaning it can be a little drying on the skin. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as I feel like it's this factor that may help to absorb excess oil being produced by the skin, improving staying power. Additionally, the moisturizing ingredient squalene is also in the ingredients list, helping to keep the skin hydrated, which can also prevent excess oil production, lending to longer lasting makeup.
I like to apply this stuff after thoroughly moisturizing my skin (remember how I mentioned that physical sunscreens can be more drying). I prep the skin with my favorite hyaluronic acid serum, SkinMedica's HA5 Rejuvenating Hydrator, followed up by every makeup artist's staple moisturizer, Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentrè. I make sure to apply the HydraTint soon after moisturizing, so that there's still enough slip to the skin to spread the product evenly. After about 15 minutes, it will have dried down nicely to a soft-matte finish, with no need for setting powder (because f*** setting powder). I will say, the one shade it comes in is slightly too dark for my NC10/NC15 complexion, but it's sheer enough that I can mostly get away with it, and it does help make me look less dead, especially during the summer months. Once I add my lighter concealer under the eyes and to the high points of my face, it manages to blend pretty seamlessly. I will also say that many of my coworkers adore this product too, several of which have medium skin tones significantly darker than mine, so it should work for a wide range of people! For my everyday makeup, this combined with concealer is all I need to provide adequate coverage that still lets my freckles peek through.
The main thing that first attracted me to this guy (gal?) was the gorgeous packaging, because let's be honest, I need my beauty products to be pretty. It is my firm opinion that every beauty product should have iridescent packaging because it's effing stunning. I also love that even though it's packaged as a squeezy tube, it has a pump attached to the end, helping keep the ingredients inside nice and stable by being air tight, while also being a lazy girl's bff. My one gripe is that the cap on this is super loose and refuses to stay on in my makeup bag, but maybe I just got a bunk one from a bad batch.
Now for a quick lesson on sunscreens. One of the most common questions I get asked when recommending sunscreens to my clients, is the difference between physical and chemical sunscreens. Physical sunscreens protect the skin from the sun's harmful UV rays by acting as a physical block on the skin. The main ingredients in them are usually titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, which reflect the suns rays right off them, so they can't hit your skin. Chemical sunscreens on the other hand, work by absorbing the UV rays into their chemical bonds, converting the UV radiation into heat, which then gets released into your skin. The main ingredients used in chemical sunscreens are usually Octinoxate, Avobenzone, and Oxybenzone, among others.
Now for the pros and cons of each. I am definitely partial to physical sunscreens for several reasons. The main reason I prefer them is because by acting as a barrier, physical sunscreens prevent UV rays from ever reaching your skin in the first place. In contrast, by chemical sunscreens allowing rays to penetrate the skin, and converting those rays from light to heat, you can run the risk of worsening any hyperpigmentation in the skin, as heat penetrating the skin is known to increase melanin production. Additionally, many people will claim that the components in chemical sunscreens are known carcinogens and bad for both your health and the environment (Hawaii actually just banned the use of chemical sunscreens in an attempt to protect their coral reefs!). I'll let you read up further on this heated (no pun intended!) topic and decide for yourself.
Physical sunscreens don't come without their drawbacks however. You know that vision we all have of some dude chilling on the beach in the 90's with a white-ass nose? Yeah, he was using zinc on his nose. By nature, this mineral compound can have a slight white cast to it (it's what allows the rays to bounce off of it), though the technology these days has lessened this whitening effect significantly. It is also for this reason that you will often find physical sunscreens are tinted, to counteract any ghostly hues. This can mostly be a problem for deeper skin tones, but again, the technology is getting so impressive these days that this is hardly an issue any more. It should also be noted that it is this type of sunscreen that is responsible for flashback in flash photography, making you look like a drunken Casper in those pictures from your night out this weekend. Chemical sunscreens shouldn't have this problem at all, which is why most foundations with SPF that are on the market only contain this type, so maybe stick to those on a night out when you know the paparazzi will be present.
Finally, let's talk about skin types in relation to sunscreen. Typically, physical sunscreens tend to have a drier texture due to their astringent properties as I mentioned above, so may be best suited to more oily skin types. That being said, I have decently dry skin, and I love my HydraTint physical sunscreen, so take this suggestion with a grain of salt. Chemical sunscreens often can have that "greasy" feeling to them, which some of you ultra-dry folks may enjoy for an extra dose of hydration, but those who are acne-prone may want to stay away from as they can be potentially pore clogging. This greasiness factor is also what helps chemical sunscreen remain more water-resistant than physical as oil repels water, so opt for this one if you know you'll be sweating or around water.
I could honestly continue on about sunscreens for several more paragraphs, but the most important thing to me is that all of you wear some form of SPF on the daily, so I'll stop rambling now. Also, keep in mind that all of this is relative, as any type of sunscreen is going to be beneficial to you versus none at all! There are tons of products out there that contain a blend of the two types to cover all your bases, so these could be a great option for those of you who hate making decisions.
*Disclaimer: I did write this article whilst sporting a fresh sunburn on my face after failing to reapply my SPF during a day of scuba diving, so heed my advice at your own risk ;) AND ALSO MAKE SURE TO REAPPLY YOUR SUNSCREEN EVERY 2 HOURS! (Setting sprays with SPF can make this chore much easier on makeup-wearing days.)