Its such beautiful weather outside right now, far far away from the hot sunny sweaty weather we had till yesterday which got me rethinking about the SPFs I had been slathering on and whether they were doing anything to protect my skin from such torture? Now that I have my pictures taken and the theme for the post sorted I think I should go on with it!
I have been getting a lot of sunscreen related questions as soon as the warmer weather dawned upon the hemisphere and rightly so; after all however much we miss sunshine in Winter, Summer can turn into a nightmare if one isn’t prepared! I thought it was time I donned my blogger-cap and did a bit of research online as well as rummage through my own mini-stash of sunscreen and answer some questions.
Its very educating (as well as confusing) when you are looking for information online so I have assimilated whatever I could and have it all laid out for easy perusal. It goes without saying that I am no expert and no authority on skin or beauty issues so please take all of this information as informally as you can and be your own judge.
Luckily for me, my Mum always insisted on me wearing sunblocks and sunscreens right from the time I was a tween/teen which saved me a lot of damage over the years. I have Indian skin and I tan more than I burn (but burn I do.. sadly) and my issues often revolve around foundation mismatches and colors looking too ashy on me in summer. Trivial clearly, but lately the biggest concern has been to somehow avoid pigmentation. Most of my aunts (and even uncles) have developed major dark spots and pigmentation on the cheeks and nose (inspite of them being highly reputed doctors) which really amuses and saddens me at the same time that how little people follow their own advice!
Now that I am much more aware of what constitutes a good skincare routine and take conscious care of my skin (and my Mum’s!) I have so far successfully avoided pigmentation or sun related damage to the skin. My concerns now involve,
1) pairing products correctly, meaning if I use acids for exfoliation then making sure I use the right serum/moirturiser/spf,
2) avoid certain ingredients in products, like looking for mineral sunscreens with Zinc or Titanium Oxides, avoiding sulphates and foaming agents
3) knowing my skin type and targeting the right issues with the right products (the list is rather long!)
When it comes to sun care and sunscreens there are a few pointers I follow. A lot of the brands which tick the “Safe Sunscreens Checklist” aren’t very easily available here which makes it even harder to narrow down products which make both my skin and conscience happy. So,
1) make sure the sunscreen is fragrance free as much as possible
2) does not have any known objectionable ingredients
3) always use a separate sunscreen and keep the moisturiser separate
4) try and go for a moderate spf rating in order to avoid giving myself a false sense of protection
5) always make sure I re-apply Spf if I happen to step out more than once in the sun
Here is a brief description of the sunscreens I have tried so far and what I like/dislike about them. I like my sunscreens to be very lightweight, oil-free (if possible) non-greasy (definitely!) and without that annoying white-cast that traditional sunscreens are infamous for. Going Brand wise,
La Roche-Posay Anthelios Range – Escentual, Health & Glow (India)
I have been using this for the past 3 summers and these are definitely one of those which do as they say on the bottle. The Anthelios XL Ultra Light is a thin fluid perfect for very hot climates (like here in India) and goes on very smooth on the skin. It sinks in quickly but depending on your skin type it might take a moment or two. This isn’t very matte or drying just somewhere in between so I like mixing it with a gel-cream moisturiser and apply so the skin feels balanced and neither too dry or oily. It has SPF 50+ (UVA/UVB) which is really everything you need. As with the entire LRP range this is hypoallergenic (relatively unlikely to cause an allergic reaction) and does not break me out or cause unnecessary sensitivity. Its great under makeup and does not interfere with whatever you put on top. This comes in a 50ml bottle and isn’t as extortionately priced as some of those I’ll discuss here; definitely one to have on your shopping list!
Another great one from LRP is the Gel-Cream version of the Anthelios spf which is meant for combination-oily skin types. Until last summer when my skin was definitely in the said category, I loved using this with my moisturiser (Clinique’s DDML gel) and my skin would feel comfortable and protected for hours. I highly recommend both of these and based on your skin type you’ll definitely find something in the Sun care range from LRP to suit you. The tube is a decent 50ml in size and is priced lower than its fluid cousins.
The Anthelios range has one of the best SPF ingredients, Mexoryl SX which make it one of the safest sunscreen range in the market. Its one of the mineral based sunscreen ranges which is readily available in India.
I have almost used up the Clarins UV Plus HP sunscreen (pink-tinted version no idea why I chose this) and t’was a good one! Although I am not quite sure I’ll buy the tinted version again; I think the original (un-tinted) would be more to my liking. Its very similar in texture to the LRP Anthelios XL Ultra Light in the sense that its a fluid and very thin with no white cast but it’s slightly fragranced (as all Clarins products) which may or may not amuse you. I personally have had no issues and this was a well loved product with a high SPF 40 protection (UVA/UVB) and a little “glow” that the tint provided which kind of evened out my skin before any foundation/tinted moisturiser.
Its very expensive for a tiny 30 ml bottle which is definitely an important point to consider while investing in an SPF product. One certainly needs a good amount of product for each use and don’t let the Sales Assistant fool you into believing that the bottle will last you a while ‘because you need a very little amount everytime’; you absolutely DO NOT. You have to slather on any spf product and you’ll most definitely run out of this dinky bottle in less than three months.. so be informed. I’ll probably look for one of the bigger bottles of this the next time I am at duty-free, until then its LRP for me all the way!
Neutrogena – Most drugstores and pharmacies (India)
This is a classic and one that I have used the most and there’s a fair bit of nostalgia involved with it! I have been using it for years, its non-fragranced, non-greasy and SPF 50+ PA+++. Its one you cannot go wrong with unless you have an acutely dry skin which then might not let you appreciate the “dry-touch”. Combination and Oily skin will love this one and it works well under makeup too, Win! Easy on the wallet and great on this skin, there is nothing not to love.
This is a fairly new brand and new products for me but I find myself really liking some of them already. The City Sunscreen Serum SPF 30 PA+++ is a supposed to be an anti-aging serum combined with a sun protection factor which does double duty of protecting and repairing the skin. Tall claims and I am yet to see any clear results (mostly due to lack of any significant signs of aging) but I really like how super light this is and completely undetectable on the skin. A true serum texture which gets absorbed in the skin and does not leave any residue, white cast or smell behind. This does have a small percentage of some debatable ingredients but nothing so far has come to my attention as being toxic. I’ll investigate further!
Another one from the brand which I got my hands on is the Everyday Sunscreen SPF 50 PA+++ which surprisingly smells very foul. So much so that I refuse to use it for my face! I have heard great things about the smell of this which is unbelievable considering they are talking about the same product! Anyways, I use it for my hands and legs and it does a good job but thats about it. I think there are cheaper and better ones which one can use for the body and I would not really recommend this to anyone.
Keywords here are lightweight, non-tacky, non-greasy, no-ashiness and comfortable to wear! I know a good part of the blogging community has moved on to more organic, natural and mineral SPF products and I’d love to get my hands on some if only for the availability.
Hope this helps!
Let me know of your favorite SPF products and what you like about them.