When we think of anti-aging skincare, we often think of serums - the holy-grail of anti-aging, full of glitter and glory (otherwise known as active ingredients like Vitamin C, Antioxidants, Bakuchiol, Hyaluronic Acid, and so on). But what if I told you there was a product that took a preventative approach to skin-aging, one that could reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, help prevent pigmentation, support an even skin tone, and protect your skin from the visible signs of aging, you’d use it. In fact, the holy grail of anti-aging skincare might not be serums…. It may in fact, be...sunscreen.
We’ve known about sunscreen for a long time for preventing skin cancers. We know how fierce the sun is, and that it’s essential in summer to put it on when we go outdoors, but applying sunscreen everyday whether we’re indoors or out on a grey day may not be something we consider necessary for skin health. In fact, research is showing how important daily use of sunscreen is for the protection of our skin.
Serums, moisturisers, and a good skincare regime is a great way to maintain healthy skin, but to take a truly preventative approach to skin health wearing sunscreen is essential. One of the best ways to protect your skin from the visible signs of aging is with sunscreen. In 20 years, your skin will thank you for it, and there is no better time to start than now.
The impact of sun on our skin
Sun damage is one of the leading causes of premature aging. The UV rays penetrate the layers causing damage and degradation from free radicals within the cells of important structures of our skin that help with our youthful appearance – elastin and collagen. Over time, with regular sun exposure, the damaged structures within our skin worsen leading to fine lines and wrinkles, an uneven complexion. Being in the sun has a cumulative effect on the skin. The damage might not happen after one day, but after regular exposure (that we might not even be aware of on a cloudy day), the damage occurs.
How does the sun impact our skin health?
In New Zealand and Australia, the sun is particularly harsh due to less protection from the hole in the ozone layer that might otherwise add a layer of protection. Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun is what can cause the damage to the skin.
How does UVB impact our skin health?
UVB light can penetrate the base layer of the epidermis, where new skin cells are formed. This means that damage to the DNA within the cells can occur. UVB exposure is what causes the burn, reddening to the skin
How does UVA impact our skin health?
UVA light penetrates deeper than UVB, into the dermis and causes damage via free radicals. UVA exposure doesn’t cause reddening to the skin like UVB.
Melanin is the pigment within our cells that gives our skin its colour and offers protection from UV radiation. People with darker skin tones have more melanin than those with lighter tones, and therefore more protection from the UV rays, as melanin acts as a shield. This doesn’t mean that people with a darker pigment don’t need to wear sunscreen, it just gives them a bit more protection from the speed at which the radiation affects the skin cells.
Should we wear sunscreen every day?
To be an effective skin protector over the long term, sunscreen should be used every day, and not just on your face, but on all of the parts of your body that see the sun. We notice the skin on our face, decolletage, and hands aging because they see the sun the most.
If you’re out in the sun, it’s important to reapply sunscreen every couple of hours.
What if I’m inside all day?
We talked about UVA above – so you know that it can get through grey skies loaded with clouds and glass windows in office buildings or cars. It makes it easy to forget that you’re having sun exposure, so wearing sunscreen is still important.
What's the best way to protect your skin from aging?
Other than having a regular skincare regime and wearing sunscreen, what you do to take care of your body from the inside out will reflect through the health of your skin. Having a diet rich in antioxidants from fresh fruit and vegetables. Drinking adequate water, exercising regularly, and avoiding smoking and pollution are also important for good skin health.
What to look for in your sunscreen?
The most important thing about a sunscreen is that it consistently works to screen UVA and UVB rays, this means it offers broad-spectrum coverage. It’s also important that the water resistance is measured. Currently, in New Zealand, it’s the brand’s choice to have their product tested to ensure they meet the Sunscreen Standard, but at HealthPost we don’t think that’s good enough. All the sunscreens we sell are independently tested to verify label claims.
To ensure you’re also getting sun on the skin in order to synthesise Vitamin D, choose times of the day when the UV rays are at their lowest, which is also important for lowering your risk of skin cancer.
What does SPF mean?
Sun protection factor, or SPF, refers to the length of time it takes for UVB rays to redden the skin with sunscreen compared to without. So, an SPF30 will take 30 times longer for the skin to redden than without it. This is important information because often people think of sunscreen as ultimate protection, but it isn’t – it just reflects or absorbs the UV rays so that they cannot damage the skin, for a limited amount of time. This is why sunscreen needs to be reapplied.
When the SPF is tested (on fair skinned people), they apply a thick layer – about 2mg per cm2 which is more than what people tend to apply.
No matter your age, it’s always the right time to start using sunscreen in your skincare regime.
HealthPost’s favourite face sunscreens:
For on-the-go moisture + SPF protection: Evolu Age Defence Protective Day Cream SPF30
Doubling as a moisturiser and sunscreen, this is a quick and easy step in your morning skincare regime. As well as being SPF30, it contains gorgeous plant-based actives like kiwifruit seed oil, green tea, and shea butter forage-defending skin protection. This goes on clear and is a lightweight texture.
For a nourishing glow: Little Urchin Natural Tinted Sunscreen SPF30
A tinted sunscreen rich in antioxidants that offers lightweight coverage and a medium skin tone coverage. Little Urchin Natural Tinted Sunscreen SPF30 is a nourishing formulation that hydrates and gives a glowing finish.
For lightweight, silky protection: Eco By Sonya Face Sunscreen SPF30
Best for oily skin, this product applies clear and is a non-greasy formulation. It is lightweight, silky, and dries smoothly.
And for whole body sunscreen, try:
This zinc-based sunscreen provides broad spectrum sun protection and is suitable for everyone six months and above. It’s ideal for those with sensitive skin and is certified NATRUE, an organisation with strict standards for natural cosmetics.