Sun Care and Skin Care - Lesson 1

 

Sun protection is an essential part of any skin-care routine, but the days of the all-purpose sand-encrusted tube of gloop are over. With new high-tech formulas, you can suit the suncare to your lifestyle and your skin's individual needs.

We spend our lives - and a good chunk of cash - seeking out skin-care compatible with our complexions and lifestyles (oh, and let's not forget the bathroom décor). But when it comes to sun protection, it's mind-blowing how many women who cleanse-tone-

 

moisturize with near-religious devotion simply reach into the beach bag and slap on the first super-turbocharged-SPF cream to hand and wonder why their skin's behaving badly: erupting with tiny under-the-surface blips, rashes, mutating into an oil slick, or developing its very own dermatological dandruff, sending us into complexion crisis...

This is partly because, until recently, beauty companies tended to think the only factor differentiating skins, in relation to sunscreens, is how easily they burn/tan. But as sun care becomes ever more sophisticated, one-size-fits-all-skin-type creams are becoming a thing of the past. It is now possible to tailor your tanning - or better, anti-tanning - regime to your own skin-care needs.

Your skin dries out after sun exposure

The sun is unrivalled in its evaporative powers, which is great if you want to dry out your swimsuit but not such good news for your skin. Who hasn't looked at her legs, post-suntan and been shocked by the mock-croc, crazy-paving effect? In fact, since the sun disrupts production of a vital moisturizing protein produced in the skin, even normal-to-oily skin can be parched by sun exposure. In addition to eliminating the discomfort of tautness, a moisturizing sunscreen keeps the skin's shedding process to a minimum, with look-no-lizard results.

Skin dryness is bad news for another reason: there's a temptation to peel it. This can cause minute scarring as you pull away that natural, protective layer. Never, ever expose even tiny patches of peeled skin to the sun until it has completely recovered.

If sun-dried skin's your problem check out a sun block cream SPF 15, in the market, featuring D-Panthenol (derived from vitamin B), a skin conditioner and moisturizer which contains skin-drenching natural ingredients, white lily extract and macadamia nut oil.

You're the sensitive type

Mysteriously, you wake one day to discover your favourite sun care triggers an intense reaction: stinging, rashes, tingling, and agonizing itching - aka "prickly heat". This is because sensitivity can be cumulative, so it's possible to become allergic to something which never caused problems before.

Skin touchiness tends to be focused on the face and neck, due to a richer nerve and blood supply and thinner skin. The challenge is to establish precisely which ingredients set your skin off, so you can avoid it from now on. (A common culprit is PABA, a highly effective sun deterrent which features in many sun care lotions and potions).

One problem is that the higher the SPF rating, the greater the concentration of an allergy-trigger. This isn't your body's hint to switch to a lower SPF: it's a sign to junk your current suncare in favour of one of the new generation of physical sunscreens.

Micronized titanium dioxide is a natural, mineral-derived sunblock which literally creates a barrier between your skin and the sun, reflecting the rays off the surface. In the old days, that meant a thick, white layer, but new lab technology has improved mineral-based formulations so that they become invisible to the eye when smoothed into the skin's surface.