Any time is a good time to start
The most crucial skincare product on the market is sunscreen. But no sweat if you’ve only slathered it on later in life, as new research suggests sunscreen not only protects the skin from premature ageing, it also may reverse the effects of sun damage. “At a cellular and tissue level, we’re beginning to see evidence that daily sunscreen use enables the skin to heal from solar damage over time, improving smoothness, firmness and pigmentation,” says Richard Parker, founder and director of research at Rationale. That’s precisely why it’s never too late (or early) to start daily application of a broad-spectrum sunscreen.
If UV-A and UV-B weren’t concerning enough, now there’s a host of other free-radical-causing culprits we should be fending off. The latest? Blue light. That’s right, the one radiating from your devices and screens. Although research is scarce and has a way to go before we know the potential damage our screens may be causing, a handful of skincare brands are getting a jump-start on it. French brand Payot has recently launched Blue Techni Liss Jour, $125, which shields the skin from blue light and addresses fine lines during the day, while the night-time formulation Blue Techni Liss Nuit, $130, regenerates skin cells while you doze. Efficient.
Know your physical from chemical
It’s the never-ending debate – physical versus chemical sunscreens. A quick rundown: as the name suggests, a physical sunscreen acts as a blocker, thanks to the key ingredients titanium oxide or zinc oxide, while chemical sunscreens contain synthetic filters that absorb the sun’s rays. “Sunscreen choice can be related to skin sensitivity,” says specialist dermatologist Dr Cara McDonald. “Chemical sunscreens are a common cause of skin irritation, but are less whitening and feel lighter, while physical blockers tend to be better for sensitive skin but can often appear white and feel heavier.” The best sunscreen is one you’ll wear daily, so seek out your preferred formula and apply diligently.
Heat and your skin
“Melasma and other hyperpigmentary conditions are very responsive to the combination of hormones, age and sunlight, including infrared (heat) energy from the sun and other sources,” says dermatologist Dr Shyamalar Gunatheesan. That means it’s not only direct sunlight that can be damaging, but heat as well. This can be naturally occurring or from artificial sources like infrared saunas or even stovetops and ovens. It’s impossible to avoid heat in summertime, so defer to aspects within your control: broad-spectrum sun protection daily. No excuses.
Cool it on treatments
There’s no need to halt those glow-inducing treatments during the warmer months, but do exercise caution. “Treatments such as laser and peels do not cause sun sensitivity, but they can increase the risk of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, where the treated areas can become even darker,” says dermatologist Dr Philip Bekhor. Schedule treatments for times when you know you won’t be hitting the beach soon after, and use a high SPF sunscreen daily for at least a month following treatment. If that sounds too hard, swap in a brightening facial and relegate brawnier treatments to winter.
Sunscreen layering might be a thing
We’ve got our head around layering our skincare formulas (cheers, Korea), and now the same protocols may even improve the efficacy of our sunscreens. “Evidence is mounting that combining sunscreens with other solar protective and repair compounds, including antioxidants, B-group vitamins, hydroxy acids and vitamin A, is more effective than sunscreen use alone,” says Parker. “A holistic approach to sun protection and repair is emerging.” Consult a dermatologist or skin expert as to which of your products and ingredients you should be using – and in what order.
Treat your hair a bit like your face
While no-one is suggesting we dedicate the same level of sun protection to our hair as our skin, a few summer switch-ups can protect strands (particularly coloured tresses) from fading, chlorine colour changes, dryness, breakage and frizz.
For nourishing: Klorane Sun Radiance Protective Oil with Ylang-Ylang Wax, $20.
If dryness and colour fade are your hair’s Achilles heel, then this lightweight oil will be your summer go-to. Not only a UV guard, it also wards off all manner of summer offenders like salt, sand and chlorine, too.
For protecting: La Biosthetique Soleil Vitalité Express UV Protection, $36.
Loaded with sunflower extract, this nifty protector brightens strands while protecting from UV-A and B rays and nixing free radical damage. Spritz it before heading out and throw it into your beach bag to spray between dips.
For hydrating: Blondi Beach Hair Rescue Oil, $49.
Vitamin-rich ingredients like prickly pear, moringa and rosemary oil form this potent formulation rescuing damaged mid-summer tresses. For a deep treatment, pop it on for a few hours (or overnight), or drench dry ends before swimming to protect from the elements.
This article originally appeared in Vogue Australia’s January 2019 issue.