You can have a perfect skincare routine that you follow every morning and evening. You cleanse, tone, exfoliate and moisturise without fail. However, your routine is worthless without one key product. It is indeed, SPF. Sufficient protection from the sun’s harmful rays is essential for maximising the effects of your other products and maintaining healthy skin (your retinol and exfoliating acids make you more sensitive to the sun!) Daily application is a must – not just in the summer – but all year round.
Everyone needs SPF – including darker skin tones – and I’m on a mission to get all of you wearing it if it’s the last thing I do! It can be a bit daunting trying to find an SPF that works, and searching by trial and error can be frustrating! However, I have a checklist for picking the perfect SPF. Below, I’ll break it down and share with you five things I look for when it comes to choosing a sunscreen.
1.The higher the protection factor number, the better!
I will happily use an SPF of 30, but always aim for 50 and only broad spectrum! A broad spectrum SPF means that it’s protecting against both UVA and UVB rays. The sun’s rays can cause cancer, which is good enough reason on its own to slather that sunscreen on. But what you may not realise is that exposure to UVA rays also leads to wrinkles, sagging, dullness and uneven pigmentation due to how deeply it can penetrate our skin. UVB rays are shorter and responsible for us getting burnt. Both are important to protect against, so opting for a broad spectrum SPF with a high sun protection factor is key to keeping your skin healthy and protected.
2. Get to know the ingredients that work for you!
Not every SPF is created equally. In some, there are ingredients that really don’t work with my blemish prone skin. I tend to avoid mineral SPFs for this reason and opt for chemical sunscreen or a hybrid – which gives me the best of both! My skin is also very dry, so I look for sunscreens that are moisturising without being too heavy for everyday use. A lightweight, hydrating formula that dries quickly makes all the difference! If you have oily or sensitive skin, consider what affects your skin type and avoid it. Checking ingredient lists instead of impulse buying saves me a lot of time, money and wasted product.
3. If you wear makeup, you’ll want an SPF that plays well!
This is an underestimated aspect of SPF shopping and something that I have forgotten in the past. Trust me, I’ve learnt the hard way. How sunscreen interacts with other skincare products is not always indicative of how it will interact with makeup. I’ve had sunscreen cause my makeup to completely melt off my face (even with setting spray!). I get into a good routine of waiting at least five minutes after SPF application before doing my makeup and make sure I apply the correct amount. Remember – two fingers-full for the face and neck!
4. No Chalkiness please!
One of the most important factors I consider when I am choosing and reviewing an SPF is whether it leaves a white cast. I have tried sunscreens that have left me in shock after turning my skin grey and purple. It can be incredibly off-putting and have you thinking that all SPFs will be like this, but that’s not true! Typically, mineral sunscreens have a bad habit of leaving a cast. But Carbon Theory’s new SPF is a chemical and mineral hybrid, so it was a delightful surprise that it left no cast as it dried down, making it suitable for darker skin tones.
5. Enjoy it!
SPF is always the last step in your skincare routine, after your moisturiser if you’re wearing one and before any makeup. It shouldn’t be something you hate applying. Instead, you should want to wear it as much as any other product in your bathroom cabinet. A sunscreen that’s really working for you will give you anti-oxidant benefits, a silky and lightweight feel that also keeps your skin moisturised and glowing. So much so you'll look forward to applying it every morning (and ideally every two hours after that!). With regular application, you’ll really start to see the difference that SPF can make.