The week before Christmas, Mr Skin Shelfie and I headed south to the Canary Islands for a week of vitamin D before the dreaded dreary January. We prepared ourselves for days of 20-25 degrees, which meant I had to prep my sun protection.
The sun and I have had a rocky relationship over my 32 years with many a burn, pigmentation and sun damage as a reminder of them. It’s taken until the past few years to be fine with fair and take the necessary precautions to protect my skin from the sun.
I have tried a fair (see what I did there?) few sunscreens in my time both for face and body so now I have some tried and tested favourites.
For face, I look for factor 30-50, nothing lower. For this trip I took UltraSun Face Anti-Age SPF30 Sun Protection for very sensitive skin. I ADORE this. It leaves skin so matte, water resistant and contains antioxidants but skips: perfume, emulsifiers & preservatives. It says you can apply once for a day, but that makes me nervous so I top up throughout the day and no burns to report. I also used it throughout the UK heatwave and Ibiza over the summer. Some other alternatives which fit the bill are:
- Alpha-H Protection Plus Daily SPF50+. This is a great moisturiser and protects against pigmentation- probably better than the Ultra-Sun. I started to get melasma in my late 20s across my forhead, nose and upper lip most likely caused by birth control (melasma is also known as pregnancy mask). Will talk more about treating this in a separate post.
- La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL Ultra Light Fluid SPF50+. Another hard working face cream and excellent for sensitive skin. This would probably be my 3rd choice as it’s more oily and slightly chalky. I also prefer the smell of the other 2.
I’m much less fussy about body protection but I still only use factor 30-50. In a week’s holiday I can get through a 250ml spray easily. This trip I took SunSense Sport Mist SPF50 but on the first day of using it, it just didn’t work for me, honestly I hated it. It’s clear and has a strong smell of alcohol so putting it on was more a test of holding my breath. I headed straight to the supermarket and replaced it with Ambre Solaire Ideal Bronze Tan Enhancing Sun Cream Spray (quite a mouthful). I’ll admit I’m a sucker for the name but the consistency, application, level of protection (not a hint of redness in sight), and smell make it a favourite.
Other body sun creams I like:
- Banana Boat Sport Ultra Mist Lotion SPF 50– easy to spray at all angles, no need to rub in and dry touch. It is hard to find in the UK though, I had to buy off Amazon.
- UltraSun Glimmer Lotion SPF 30– my husband hates any product with shimmer that could potentially transfer to him (sigh). But this is lovely in the early days of summer or a holiday and you want a bit of colour on limbs. (I’d beware of this with white clothes- although I carefully applied on my arms on my wedding day successfully)
We all know that staying out of the sun and wearing a hat covered up will always be the best protection. However it’s just not realistic, particularly when you married a self-proclaimed Italian beach bum who wants to be out and about. My rules are I need to have an umbrella and he needs to apply cream whenever I ask. I also take beta-carotene supplements up to a month before I travel as a skin prep. I started doing this when I lived in Italy and bought them from Erbolario but you can also get these at Holland & Barrett if you live in the UK.
As Baz Luhrmann says in the ‘Sunscreen‘ song:
If I could offer you only one tip for the future,
Sunscreen would be it
The long term benefits of sunscreen have been proven by scientists
He ain’t wrong.