We hear from the experts about the proper application of sun protection, their tried-and-tested regimens for summer skincare, and alternative methods to get that summer glow.
We’ve all probably thought this at one point in our lifetime: “You can’t get sunburnt in the shade,” or, “There’s SPF in my make-up products, so I don’t need to put on extra sunscreen.”
These are two of the most common sun myths, according to Harriet Lee, chief strategic advisor at Joyce Beauty, and Newby Hands, global beauty director at Net-a-Porter. It all comes down to a lack of awareness of how sun damage works and how even when we think we do, more often than not we aren’t applying sufficient sunscreen for full-spectrum protection.
“It’s the UV radiation, not sunlight, that damages your skin,” says Lee. “UV rays can reflect off nearby surfaces and so you can still get sunburnt in the shade. Harmful UV rays are present year-round, no matter what season it is. Believe it or not, even when it’s cold or overcast, up to 80 percent of UV rays can pass through clouds. For these reasons, it’s important to ensure you wear sunscreen, even though we can’t see or feel the UV rays.”
Lee suggests that the correct amount of sunscreen to use would be about a quarter teaspoon for the face and neck. That comes down to five pumps of Clean Screen or Supreme Screen, and three pipettes of Queen Screen, all from Australian brand Ultra Violette, which she recommends.
On a typical day for Hands, an SPF 50 product is her pick; she applies a generous amount 20 to 30 minutes before she leaves the house and routinely reapplies it every two hours throughout the day. “A lot of make-up and skincare products, such as primers and moisturisers, offer SPF protection, which can add to your sun protection but can’t replace sunscreen entirely,” she warns. “Many products offer only low protection and may not be broad spectrum. If you care about your skin, then a broad-spectrum SPF 30 to 50 should always be the last step in your daily skincare regimen.”
A broad-spectrum SPF will protect your skin from both UVA and UVB rays, and many beauty products today come with beauty textures that feel more like face creams than greasy pastes. Zelen’s hydrating sunscreen is Hands’ personal pick, a hypoallergenic formula that uses micro-encapsulation technology to provide full protection without any irritation, and is also enriched with botanical antioxidants to reduce the formation of damaging free radicals and delay premature ageing.
If we do unfortunately get sunburnt, which is inevitable during Hong Kong’s popular junk season, applying more SPF isn’t the answer. “If you get a sunburn, then cover up and stay out of the sun,” says Hands. “You need to take the heat out of your skin with a cooling shower or compress. Using anti-inflammatory skincare on areas of sunburn is great, while good after-sun can really help, as it’s well formulated to treat sun damage. And do avoid any peels or exfoliators and keep skin nourished and hydrated.”
A good after-sun gel can help to soothe and hydrate irritated skin; Susanne Kaufmann After Sun Moisturizing Gel is enriched with calming aloe vera and anti-inflammatory Indian balloon plant extract that helps soothe the skin. We shouldn’t neglect our hair, either, which can become dry and extremely brittle under the sun’s powerful rays. Net-a-Porter also carries specific after-sun hair-styling products, such as a cream from Sachajuan that can condition the hair from the root to the tip without feeling greasy.
According to Lee, sun damage isn’t just about a single sunburn, so we shouldn’t apply sunscreen only on junk trips or at the beach. It can occur from cumulative unprotected daily exposure to sunlight. “Repeated exposure to the sun’s UV rays can cause changes to the skin, such as fine lines, wrinkles, uneven skin tone, pigmentation and redness,” says Lee. “Hence, routinely taking care of your skin day-in and day-out makes a huge difference.”
If your skin has been exposed to the sun more than usual, Lee recommends an everyday skincare regimen that incorporates a simple cleanser, antioxidants, nourishing moisturisers and SPF. “Ditch any product that contains possible irritants, such as exfoliants, essential oils, fragrances and acids. Hydration is key to sun-exposed skin and can help delay the ageing process.”
To cleanse, Lee recommends the nourishing Softening Cleanser from Tata Harper, which is dermatologically tested and designed to support the skin barrier without stripping it down. Follow up by hydrating the skin with Derm Institute’s Antioxidant Hydration Gel Masque, which is an intensive mask, then calm down redness in the skin with Dr Barbara Sturm’s Calming Serum, and finish with Omorovicza’s Queen of Hungary Mist to feel refreshed. Of course, the final step should always be SPF – RéVive’s Sensitif Renewal Cream comes with broad-spectrum SPF 30 and is also suitable for even the most sensitive skin.
At night, following a day out when a build-up of excess oils and make-up can cause skin congestion, both Lee and Hands recommend a double cleansing ritual.
There’s no need to deviate from your usual cleanser, according to Hands. If you don’t want to try double cleansing, you can use your preferred cleanser – but really massage it into your skin to wash off the dirt and grime.
But if you’d like to double cleanse, Lee recommends starting with an oil-based cleanser, such as Wildsmith Skin’s Active Repair Nourishing Cleansing Balm, which contains a blend of plant-based oils that breaks down natural and synthetic surface oils, pollutants and make- up. For the second cleanse, Augustinus Bader’s The Cream Cleansing Gel is a good choice. Coupled with TFC8 and a blend of soothing botanicals, the gel is light and refreshing, and leaves the skin feeling hydrated, nourished and primed to absorb the rest of your skincare products.
Although most of us want to have a healthy summer tan, instead of over-exposing yourself to the sun, self-tanning is a good alternative. “Today’s self-tans are brilliant and come in so many different textures, from water to oil, to excellent drops that you just add to your usual face and body care,” says Hands.
The key is finding a self-tanning product that suits your skin tone. Wonder Oil from Tan Luxe is formulated to adapt to your skin tone. For a more elaborate procedure that’s still beginner-friendly, Amanda Harrington’s Buff Bronze Face Set includes three simple steps that can be done at home and comes with a soft bristled face buffer brush to create a streak-free finish.
Before you begin, prepping your skin is also an essential step. Lee recommends an oil-free cleanser, such as Tata Harper’s Clarifying Cleanser. You can also exfoliate your skin with Wildsmith Skin’s latest Dual-Action Exfoliating Treatment, an amazing plant-based enzymatic exfoliant that will leave your skin smooth and refined for self- tanning.