I have been petrified of the sun for about 3 years now. You might argue that the fear set in 27 years too late, but up until I qualified and started working I would spend as many summer hours as I could completely sunscreen free and often spritzed in some form of oil working on my tan lines. LUCKILY as an intern you work allll the hours, so once I entered the working world there wasn’t much time left for tanning and my passion for being brown faded somewhat. The unintentional stop I put to tanning became an active decision to stop going into the sun and start using SPF daily when I started working in aesthetics and learned more about how the sun affects your skin. And the real fear set in in about September 2015 when (shortly after having published a blog post about how my skin is soooo easy and amazing) I suddenly developed melasma.
Despite the fear and my dark patches I had always envisioned a winter wedding with a summer honeymoon, and so when I found myself packing for Mauritius a few weeks ago I knew I would only be able to relax and really enjoy myself if I was well prepared. I needed to make sure I had taken all the steps I possibly could to ensure that I wouldn’t be damaging my skin while at the same time not being a total spoil sport in a place that is designed around being in the sun and sea all day.
I am thrilled to report that I was outdoors from 9am till 4pm every day, had the best time ever, have gotten my first tan lines in 5 years, and my pigmentation has not worsened! So in this post I’m going to share with you what I used (besides my huge floppy hat) to protect my skin!
*DISCLAIMER* I do stock all of these products at my office, but was not sponsored by any of them to write this post.
- Pre-Sun: Antioxidants
I choose Skinceuticals antioxidants because I believe that their products have been properly researched and have proven clinical results. Their antioxidants come in 3 forms: CE Feruilic, Phloretin and Resveratrol BE, with the former 2 being for daytime application and the latter for night time use.
Both Phloretin and CE Ferulic are high in Vitamin C, which is proven to protect skin from the harmful effects of the sun, but is NOT a sunscreen. I use Phloretin because of my pigment issues, and apply 3 – 4 drops every morning rain or shine onto clean, dry skin before I apply anything else.
Oral antioxidants are also available, so when I knew I would be outdoors for a big part of the day I would swallow a Heliocare antioxidant capsule along with my usual vitamin cocktail. Heliocare capsules have an extract from fern plants found in Central America in them that is supposed to offer UVA protection and although the evidence for using oral “sunscreens” appears to be a little thin on the ground there does appear to be some proof that these capsules provide some protection, and they certainly aren’t harmful so I thought it best to use them!
My personal experience was that despite being in the sun as much as I was, I never got any actual sunburn when taking these pills, which I found impressive since like I say I was white as a sheet before my holiday and am notoriously bad at applying sunscreen evenly!
(Neither of these products replaces sunscreen, and both are recommended in conjunction with adequate topical protection!)
- In Sun: Sunscreens
I don’t usually use a foundation as such, but do love the way tinted moisturizers and BB creams even out my skin tone. Since we were at a beach resort I wasn’t putting my normal face on every day but didn’t want to scare any of the other guests at breakfast and also wanted to make sure I had protected my skin before I even set foot outside every morning. To kill both these birds I found the Heliocare Gel Colour in Brown absolutely magnificent. It is an SPF 50 product, which I believe as a Caucasian living and holidaying in Africa I cannot compromise on, and is primarily a sunscreen with the benefit of a tint, rather than being a tinted product with a bit of SPF thrown in. Unfortunately it only comes in 2 colours: Light & Brown, but since it is pretty sheer I think the 2 colours cater for quite a broad range of skin tones.
In my beach bag I packed the Heliocare Gel SPF 50 (Oil Free) for reapplications to my face, neck and chest (your face ends at your nipples, remember?). I chose this one because I feel weird about applying tinted products in public for whatever reason, and because it meant I could bully my husband into reapplying when I did and with the same product. It has a lovely smell, really isn’t greasy or oily at all and feels quite hydrating which is wonderful in hot weather.
For my body I packed the Heliocare Spray SPF 50 and I cannot rave about it enough. I have never had a body sunscreen quite as magical before and I definitely foresee myself sticking to this one for a long time. The spray nozzle works every time, it delivers an evenly distributed fine mist of white sunscreen that you can see on your skin so you know how much you have sprayed, and it is the least greasy body formulation I have ever come across. It was super convenient to apply and reapply and never became messy or changed consistency despite it lying in the sun.
Heliocare is effective against UVA and UVB which means you are protecting yourself against burning and aging when you use it in the correct doses. Their 360 range also offers protection against pollution, infrared and ambient light. Although I used all of these SPF 50 products, I still came away with what I think is a really nice golden tan…which probably means I didn’t apply quite as frequently as I should have, but like I mentioned I never burnt and didn’t develop any new freckles so I’m quite pleased with myself!
- After Sun: Moisturizers
Although I never burned my skin, keeping it moisturised in summer weather is super important. On my face I swear by iS Clinica’s SHEALD Recovery Balm for ridiculous hydration and to calm any irritation, whether it’s from a little more sun than usual or from me going overboard with my Vitamin A creams, or just from my skin being a little difficult.
For body hydration I alternated using Piz Buin After Sun…because it smells so delicious, and the Body Shop Body Butters for the same reason really!
What I’ve really learnt from this experience is that with the products available today there isn’t really a need to be afraid of exposing your skin to the sun, as long as it’s protected!