How do you enjoy the summer rays when they’re your skin’s biggest threat? The latest and greatest sunscreens might just do the trick.
Over the last two decades, doctors, scientists, and researchers have warned us about the harmful effects of both UVA and UVB light, reinforced with data that shows melanoma rates in the US have doubled from 1982 to 2011. What’s more, recent studies, including one from Toxicology and Industrial Health, have shown that common environmental pollutants such as chemicals released from burning coals and gasoline significantly increase the skin’s photo damage when coupled with UVA rays.
So it’s little wonder consumers are gravitating toward products that offer a higher sun protection factor (or SPF). According to retail analyst Karen Grant of the NPD Group, the number of skincare products with SPF 50 has quadrupled in sales since 2013. The market for color cosmetics has taken off, too, with sales of SPF 50 foundations growing from $1.6 million to $21 million in just three years. “The consumer is very much aware of the need to have even higher levels of SPF,” says Grant. “You don’t see things quadruple or grow 20-fold unless people are thinking, Wow we really need this.”
While cosmetics make for convenient sun protection, Francesca Fusco, an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at New York City’s Mount Sinai School of Medicine, cautions that SPF makeup shouldn’t necessarily replace sunscreen. In fact, when examining patients under a Wood’s lamp, which reveals some types of sunscreen on the surface of the skin, Fusco found that makeup with SPF may not always evenly protect the face. Instead, she recommends applying at least an SPF 30 sunscreen five minutes prior to your makeup to ensure ample protection.
The SPF number, however, is not the only factor to keep in mind. “It’s about the correct application and the reapplication, depending on where you are,” Fusco says. For days spent outdoors, she suggests applying protection generously, all over, every two hours. But don’t neglect your skin on workdays, even if your time in the light is minimal. Says Fusco, “People don’t realize that the incidental sun exposure they get every day adds up and contributes to their risk for skin cancer and sun damage.”
Clockwise from top: UV Protective Emulsion for Body SPF 50+, Clé de Peau Beauté ($90). Neiman Marcus, Fashion Show, 702-731-3636. Age-Defying SPF 50 Mineral Crème, Hampton Sun ($52). Neiman Marcus, see above. Line Interception Power Duo, La Prairie ($350). Saks Fifth Avenue, Fashion Show, 702-733-8300. Éminence Rosehip & Lemongrass Lip Balm SPF 15, Éminence Organics Skin Care ($28). Canyon Ranch SpaClub, The Grand Canal Shoppes, 702-414-3600. Sun Lotion SPF 30, Moroccanoil ($32). Sephora, The Forum Shops at Caesars, 702-228-3535. Sunscreen Care Milk-Lotion Spray SPF 50+, Clarins ($36). Sephora, see above. Sports BB Broad Spectrum SPF 50+ WetForce, Shiseido ($38). Sephora, see above
As simple as it sounds, reading labels is crucial for your skin health. “We want broad coverage when applying topical sunscreens,” says Fusco, citing the need to shield against UVA rays (responsible for aging) and UVB rays (responsible for burning), as both contribute to sun damage. Luckily, today every major brand offers a broad spectrum with comprehensive protection—whether physically, in the form of a mineral-boasting protective barrier on the skin to block UV rays, or chemically, in which chemicals change UV rays to heat and then release the heat from the skin.
New, sophisticated physical formulas (zinc oxide or titanium dioxide) squash the notion that zinc only belongs on the noses of 1980s lifeguards. Hampton Sun’s SPF 45 Mineral Sunscreen Crème contains micronized zinc that “dissipates and absorbs right on the skin, so it’s pleasant to wear every day, as you should,” says the brand’s CEO and founder, Salvatore Piazzolla. Green Screen from Farmacy blends antioxidant-rich Echinacea GreenEnvy with mineral-based SPF 30 for an evenly toned, protected complexion.
Known to spread more thinly, chemical formulas contain filters like avobenzone, oxybenzone, and octinoxate, take 20 minutes to absorb into the skin, and “[allow] the cosmetics industry to add antiagers like peptides and still leave it effective,” says Fusco. Silky finishes in recent products like Moroccanoil’s Sun Lotion SPF 30 and Sunscreen Care Milk-Lotion Spray SPF 50+ from Clarins make the application feel more like a spa treatment.
For those not sure which kind to choose, Wetforce Sports BB SPF 50+ from Shiseido and Clé de Peau’s UV Protective Emulsion for Body SPF 50+ contain both physical and chemical ingredients.
PROTECT AND PERFECT
Clockwise from top: Les Beiges Gel Touch Healthy Glow Tint SPF 15, Chanel ($60). The Forum Shops at Caesars, 702-735-2555. Dawn Patrol SPF 30 Classic Primer, Coola ($42). Sephora, The Forum Shops at Caesars, 702-228-3535. Power Fabric Longwear High Coverage Foundation, Giorgio Armani ($64). Neiman Marcus, Fashion Show, 702-731-3636. Dreamskin Perfect Skin Cushion, Dior ($42). Sephora, see above. Sugar Candy Tinted Lip Treatment SPF 15, Fresh ($24). Sephora, see above. Laguna Body Tint Broad Spectrum SPF 30, NARS ($45). Saks Fifth Avenue, Fashion Show, 702-733-8300. Mineral Corrector Palette SPF 20 ($54) and Natural Finish Pressed Foundation SPF 20 ($55), Colorescience. Skinfuzion, 11201 S. Eastern Ave., Ste. #210, Henderson, 702-280-2284
New, innovative color products make it easier for sun protection to play a part in everyday makeup regimens. Says Jameson Slattery, vice president of global marketing at Colorescience, “Consumers are becoming more educated about the need to use sun protection daily, and not just on weekends or when they are visiting the beach. They’re looking for multifunctional products that elegantly combine high-quality SPF into their existing beauty routine.”
New broad-spectrum foundations like Giorgio Armani’s SPF 25 Power Fabric and Dior’s SPF 50 Dreamskin Perfect Skin Cushion do the trick, providing a smooth complexion as well as a sun barrier. “Many of these products are allowing the consumer a one-product solution that can give you blemish correction and protection at the same time. That’s where we’re seeing the strongest growth,” says the NPD Group’s Karen Grant.
And when used alongside other sun protectants, these multitasking cosmetics will reduce the risk of missing a spot or two. “If you have an SPF in your primer and foundation, it’s unlikely that once you’re applying those products you’re going to miss the same spot on your face with multiple products,” says Slattery, who adds that Colorescience’s SPF 50 Sunforgettable brush-on sunscreen, with its mineral powder that can be layered seamlessly over a full face of makeup (on the go, no less), was specifically developed for all-day reapplication.
These days, people are more likely to use sunscreen than they were 30 years ago—but still, says Lane Smith, MD, board-certified plastic surgeon at Smith Plastic Surgery in Las Vegas, most people don’t apply enough or they are vying for that golden glow. “The biggest issue regarding sunscreen use with my patients is not applying enough or often enough, and some still like to tan, and that is a problem,” says Smith, who recommends a minimum of broad-spectrum and water-resistant SPF 30 every two hours.
And this also goes for days when the sun is tucked behind clouds. “When there is cloud cover or when you’re using a sun shade, there is a possibility of certain UV rays coming through,” says H.L. Greenberg, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and founder of Las Vegas Dermatology. Adds Smith, “Remember, just driving to and from work bathes the skin in harmful UVA radiation.”
But this is by no means a call to stay indoors. “Even if patients were sun worshippers in their youth, regular sunscreen use at any age can help reverse some of the signs of skin aging. It is never too late to start a good sunscreen regimen,” Smith says. And with so many options, it’s never been easier—or looked better—to practice safe sun.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY NADYA KOROBKOVA. THIS PAGE: JEFF CRAWFORD