Here Comes The Sun

Delay the signs of ageing by levelling up your sun protection game.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

By now, wearing sunscreen should already be part of your daily skincare regimen as it’s the best way to delay signs of skin ageing like pigmentation, dehydration, loss of firmness and fine lines. Unfortunately for many of us who favour instant gratification, wearing sunscreen doesn’t make skin look better in the short run, but yields long term skin benefits, allowing you to see results only five, 10 or even 20 years down the line.

There is also a fine art to ensuring complete and consistent sun protection, because if you’re going to do it half-heartedly or incorrectly, more often than not, your efforts against sun damage are wasted. Here, we explore how you can reap the best benefits from your sunscreen, protecting against light of all wavelengths and the importance of reapplication. 

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Sunscreens are broadly categorised into physical sunscreens and chemical sunscreens. While the term “chemical” often throws people off, the difference is really the method in which the ingredients protect the skin.

Physical sunscreens (sometimes called mineral sunscreens) often contain ingredients like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide which form a protective barrier to reflect ultraviolet rays. The downside is that sunscreen containing these ingredients often leave a white cast, making them unpleasant or difficult to apply.

Chemical sunscreens, on the other hand, are made with ingredients like oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and octinoxate, which absorb the sun’s rays. This forms a chemical reaction which generates a small amount of heat and while this is not harmful to skin, those with skin sensitivity might experience redness as a result. 

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From top:

The Soleil Toujours 100% Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30, $38 (35.5 ml), uses zinc oxide as its active ingredient. Although it applies white, it blends with skin perfectly.

The SIGI Skin Morning Glow Physical Sunscreen SPF 50 PA++++, $58 (50 ml), doesn’t just protect against UVA and UVB rays, its blend of superfood ingredients, including avocado and acai, helps to hydrate and strengthen skin.

Formulated for sensitive skin, the Eau Thermale Avéne Fluid Fragrance-Free SPF 50+, $41.90 (50 ml), protects with its lightweight texture. Plus, it’s also developed to have minimal impact on marine life, making it the ideal sunscreen to bring along on your next beach vacation or diving trip.

With a 100 per cent mineral sunscreen blend, the Elizabeth Arden PREVAGE City Smart Broad Spectrum SPF 50 PA++++ Hydrating Shield, $99 (40 ml), also contains ingredients to defend against pollution as well as strengthen skin against oxidative stress.

Containing main sunscreen ingredient zinc oxide, the Drunk Elephant Umbra Sheer Physical Daily Defense SPF 30, $48 (90 ml), is also loaded with potent antioxidants to defend against free radicals and other environmental aggressors.

The Anessa Perfect UV Sunscreen Mild Milk SPF 35 PA+++, $39.90 (60 ml), contains mostly mineral sunscreen ingredients but also trace amounts of chemical sunscreen ingredients. However, it’s worth noting that it also contains anti-irritant and anti-inflammatory ingredients to minimise reactions on sensitive skin, and is also friendly to marine life. 

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From left:

Containing titanium oxide and avobenzone, the Astalift D-UV Clear White Solution SPF 50+ PA++++, $72 (30 g), gives complete coverage with its new Stretch UV Shield technology which accommodates to the movement of your facial muscles.

Delivering UV protection and hydration, the Clair SKIN SOLUTIONS Ultra-Light Sunblock SPF 50+ PA++++, $56 (30 ml), is also free from parabens, alcohol, mineral oil and artificial colouring. Chamomile, silk peptides and aloe vera extracts help soothe skin redness.

The Lancôme UV Expert Aqua Gel Anti-Pollution SPF 50 PA++++, $75 (30 ml), has an anti-pollution formula to help protect against environmental damage. Its unique texture spreads easily but dries to a matte finish.

It’s almost as though the Kiehl’s Dermatologist Solutions Ultra-Light Daily UV Defense Aqua Gel SPF 50 PA++++, $56 (30 ml), was formulated for Singapore’s weather. The fluid gel texture spreads easily on skin and penetrates easily to protect skin while smoothing out the appearance of pores.

The Clarins UV Plus Anti-Pollution SPF 50 PA++++, $74 (30 ml), has a combination of both mineral and chemical sunscreen ingredients to give skin well-rounded protection against UV damage and pollution.

The improved Bioré UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence, $18.90 (50 ml), now has a micro defense UV technology to provide even coverage, even within fine lines and pores. Its lightweight gel texture makes it one of the most comfortable to wear in humid weather.

Containing brightening ingredients to reduce skin dullness, the Sulwhasoo Snowise Brightening UV Protector SPF 50+ PA++++, $92 (40 ml), is also infused with the Skin Coating Film Technology to prevent pollutants from adhering to skin, effectively shielding it against environmental aggressors.

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A new threat that modern urbanites face is the effect which blue light has on the skin. Blue light is also referred to as High Energy Visible (HEV) light, and has the ability to penetrate deeper into skin when compared to both UVA and UVB light. Besides causing oxidative stress on skin, damaging collagen and elastin, it also has the ability to induce melanin production, leading to unwanted pigmentation on skin. It’s worth knowing that some beauty brands have taken note of the impact which blue light has on skin, formulating new products or reformulating their existing products to defend against it.

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From top:

Designed to act as a screen to protect against blue light emitted by digital devices, the Sisley Paris Sisleyouth Anti-Pollution Blue Light Shield, $245 (40 ml), is also packed with ingredients to counter pollutants, energise skin and hydrate skin.

The Murad City Skin Age Defense SPF 50, $112 (50 ml), shields against 89 per cent of blue light from digital devices, and creates a barrier to prevent pollutants like carbon and heavy metals from adhering to skin.

Apply the IDS Skincare DermaShield Serum, $99 (30 ml), before sunscreen to give skin an added protection against blue light damage. This lightweight serum appears yellow and packed with skin-loving ingredients which strengthens skin and neutralises the harmful effects digital devices have on our skin.

The Supergoop! Superscreen Daily Moisturizer SPF 40, $55 (50 ml), is a lightweight daily moisturiser that not only contains sunscreen ingredients, but also helps defend against infrared light, blue light and pollution – all while feeling weightless on skin.

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Oral sunscreen supplements are not meant to replace topical sunscreen, but rather, provide support in reducing the amount of damage UV light does to your skin.

They are filled with antioxidants, which help reinforce skin’s natural barrier, defending it against environmental damage and free radicals. Skipping sunscreen application in place of these oral supplements is dangerous, but taking them alongside sunscreen, especially if you are doing outdoor sports or diving, can provide more benefits than using sunscreen alone.

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The Heliocare PureWhite Radiance Max 240, $148 (60 capsules), helps maintain skin’s radiance through the inhibition of melanin production. Its proprietary Fernblock Technology contains powerful antioxidants to support collagen and elastin production.

The RE:ERTH Phytobright, $105 (90 capsules), contains a high concentration of colourless carotenoids (a type of antioxidant). They help to inhibit the production of melanin, while quelling the effects of inflammation.

Containing antioxidant L-glutathione, the Science on Skin UV Porcelain+, $149 (30 capsules), protects skin, as well as lighten pigmentation. Polypodium Leucotomos promotes tissue repair after sun exposure, while collagen peptides improve skin texture and elasticity. 

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Proper sun care is not just about applying sunscreen in the morning before you head out. That’s because sunscreens photo-degenerate once exposed to the sun, rendering them ineffective after around two to three hours of exposure. This means it’s just as important to reapply sunscreen as it is to remember putting them on in the first place.

However, re-application can be challenging especially if you have makeup applied but thankfully there are sunscreens suitable for that purpose. Powder, sprays and even BB cushions make it easier to top up on sun protection, without ruining your makeup.

From top:

- LANEIGE Anti-Pollution Two-Tone Sun Stick SPF 50+, PA++++, $34 (18 g).

-The Body Shop Skin Defence Multi-Protection Face Mist SPF45 PA++, $35 (60 ml).

- Bioderma Hydrabio 2-in-1 Moisturizing Anti-UV Mist SPF 30, $19.90 (50 ml).

- Shiseido Global Suncare HydroBB Compact for Sports, $45 (compact), $16 (cover).

- Aprilskin Magic Snow Sun Cushion 2.0, $33 (15 g).

- ORBIS Sunscreen Powder, $29 (compact), $11 (case).