It’s time to talk suncare and to introduce our new daily sunscreen
Talking about using sunscreen as a part of your daily skincare routine is generally preaching to the choir nowadays. We know that the sun, over time and with excessive exposure, can age and damage our skin. We know that using sunscreen helps to protect it. But there is a lot about sunscreens that still remains mysterious and confusing. How exactly do they work? What do they do to our skin while they are working and most of all, which ones are natural and are they as good as those that aren’t?
Why do I need to protect my skin from the sun?
The sun causes something called “photoaging” which happens when ultraviolet light hits the unprotected skin and causes DNA changes at a cellular level. Because this happens in our deepest layers of the skin, the dermis, it can take years to see this damage. Unlike normal aging, which tends to be dictated by our age and our genetics, photoaging is about damage to the skin’s structure. You can easily see this by comparing the parts of your body that see a lot of sun (forearms for example) with parts that rarely see the sun. This photoaging looks like wrinkled skin, pigmentation, freckles and age spots. It can cause a rough, uneven texture, broken capillaries (particularly on your nose and chest) and redness and blotchiness. It can also cause skin cancer, which is the world’s most common cancer and kills one person across the globe every four minutes. It is something to take very seriously because most of the time, it is preventable.
What type of sunscreen should I pick?
Sunscreen is key to protecting our skin from photodamage and photoaging. Sunscreen combines organic and inorganic ingredients that protect the skin against the sun’s rays. While you can buy it in a lot of different forms (creams, sprays, liquids and lotions) there are actually only two types of sunscreen: physical and chemical.
This is often called “mineral sunscreen” and contains inorganic physical ultraviolet filters that scatter, block and reflect the sun’s rays before they can actually penetrate the skin. These active mineral ingredients are designed to sit on top of the epidermis rather than be absorbed into your skin. Most physical sunscreens will contain either Titanium Dioxide or Zinc Oxide. This is because they are mild and unlikely to cause reactions in sensitive skin.
- Titanium Dioxide is a naturally occurring mineral with a white pigment. It is added to a lot of cosmetic products as it is stable and doesn’t degrade in sunlight.
- Zinc Oxide protects the skin from both UVA and UVB rays. This is a naturally occurring physical blocker (though it can also be synthetically produced). It reflects and scatters the UV rays preventing them from penetrating the outer layers of the skin.
Physical sunscreens offer naturally broad-spectrum protection and are less likely to irritate the skin. They also reflect heat which makes them ideal for those struggling with rosacea and inflamed acne. Most physical sunscreens are non-comedogenic which means they don’t clog pores or cause further inflammation of the skin. It can be quick to rub off, so if you are in contact with water, sweat or heavy physical activities they do need to be reapplied quite often. They can also leave a visible residue on the skin and can be a little more difficult to rub into the skin.
These function in a very different way to physical sunscreens. They contain organic ingredients that are designed to absorb UV radiation rather than reflect or block it. They contain compounds that create a chemical reaction when exposed to the sun that transforms the UV rays into heat, which is then released from the skin. They only offer protection from either UVA or UVB, not both, while physical sunscreens block both. The most common chemical sunscreens include:
- Avobenzone is the most common chemical sunscreen ingredient and it blocks UVA rays. It is an unstable ingredient, meaning it quickly degrades in sunlight.
- Octinoxate is a chemical filter that is absorbed rapidly into the skin. It helps other ingredients absorb but it is not very good for you and is a known endocrine disruptor that can affect thyroid function.
- Octisalate helps absorb UVB rays and is also a penetration enhancer, meaning it increases the amount of other ingredients that pass into your skin.
- Oxybenzone is a chemical UV filter that absorbs UVB and UVA rays, but it is a photosensitizer, meaning it increases the body’s production of free radicals after sun exposure. It has also been implicated as a hormone disruptor and may affect the production of estrogen in the body.
- Octocrylene is a chemical UV filter that can absorb both UVB and UVA rays, but like Oxybenzone, it also increases the production of free radicals after being exposed to the sun.
Chemical sunscreens are much thinner formulations, so they spread over the skin more evenly and easily. They also rub into the skin, so they leave less residue. However, they are not effective immediately and need to be applied at least twenty minutes before sun exposure to have time to work. They often contain ingredients that irritate the skin, and they need to be reapplied often. Because of the way they transform UV rays into heat, they are not useful for people with rosacea or similar inflammatory conditions, and they can make these worse. They are also more likely to clog the pores making breakouts a possibility.
Which sunscreen is the best? Chemical or Physical?
Both work in different ways, but physical sunscreens offer protection without the harsh side effects and are therefore a better option for your skin. They don’t absorb into your body, so none of the ingredients are likely to disrupt or damage your health. They are just as effective in protecting the skin against photoaging and cancer. They are also a much better choice for the environment as they do not contain chemicals that damage the ocean’s coral reefs and use naturally occurring minerals that are totally biodegradable.
This is why VM have chosen to include a physical sunscreen as part of our range. Our main goal to was formulate a sunscreen that could easily be added into a morning skincare routine. By incorporating Zinc Oxide into our best-selling Day Cream, we were able to create a hydrating, firming and non-comedogenic daily sunscreen, offering the ultimate in environmental protection. The result is a daily SPF 15+ that isn’t too oily or dry and suits all skin types. It absorbs effortlessly and as it is added to our VITAMIN A+B+C DAILY FACE CREAM it comes with all the benefits that cream already has to offer; antioxidants from pomegranate and white tea extract, raspberry seed oil which is known to offer UVA + UVB protection, Vitamin C-rich Kakadu Plum and Australian native Emu Apple. The cream can be worn on top of your mists, serums, oils and any additional moisturisers you may use based on your skin type. Its mattifying finish makes it a velvety smooth makeup base as well.
Including this natural physical sunscreen as a daily part of your routine will help protect against everyday sun damage and aging without smothering your skin or adding a cocktail of chemicals that comes with unwanted side effects. Remember that if you are expecting prolonged, harsh sun exposure you will want to add a strong sunscreen and re-apply regularly, but for daily luxurious care, our VITAMIN A+B+C DAILY FACE CREAM with SPF 15+ is the perfect environmental armour for your skin.