Yes, I have found it and it has been confirmed as the best anti-ageing cream that exists by any expert, dermatologist or cosmetic doctor I have ever met. Every textbook on aesthetic and anti-ageing medicine I have ever read also agrees with this choice. And guess what? You’ve already heard of it!
So what is this magical cream I speak of? Sun cream. Yes, despite all the research, the thousands of dollars and efforts that are poured into the billion dollar anti-ageing industry, the best cream for slowing the hands of time is the unassuming suncream.
Suncream protects your skin from the myriad of ways the sun can damage your skin – wrinkles, enlarged pores, and loss of elasticity – due to a decrease in collagen. UV exposure degrades existing mature collagen and impedes the formation of new collagen, and it can cause hyper-pigmentation due to overactivity of melanocytes (the cells involved in tanning). Suncream can protect from windburn and extreme temperatures as well – anyone who cycles to work knows it’s not usually the sunshine that does the damage in Ireland.
So what if (like most of us), you haven’t been saintly with your sunscreen application and you already have some, if not all, of the above complaints? Sunscreen may still be a large part of the answer. Protecting your skin from damage with daily sun/wind/cold protection gives it a chance to heal and try and reverse the damage. And, as I mentioned above, the new collagen that your skin produces can form much better. This protection is also absolutely vital if you want to avail of other anti-ageing treatments, like serums that target hyper-pigmentation, chemical peels and IPL, which all leave your skin more vulnerable to UV rays.
Sufficient application of sun protection is where we all tend to fall down – best intentions notwithstanding. I mean, do you really need daily sun protection when you live somewhere like Ireland? Yes. I know it’s a bit depressing now that the summer is over, and we are all starting to look paler and by January that “paler” has become an unflattering shade of grey (combined with the many excesses of the festive season – it doesn’t get much worse from a skin or general life point of view, as far as I’m concerned), but the glow you might obtain from a sunny afternoon is the park fades quickly, leaving behind it enlarged pores and an uneven skin tone. The texture and tone of your skin are so much more important in achieving a true lit-from-within glow and so much more difficult to fake, no matter how good your make-up skills are (remember Tanning Mom anyone?). Suncream is also fantastic for drier skin in the winter – it is one of the best moisturisers when skin starts to flake from the combination of central heating and cold temperatures.
One shot glass is recommended to protect the entire body. For daily use in Ireland, the face, neck and décolletage (the décolletage is one of the most sensitive areas to ageing, and one of the hardest to improve, even with hardcore treatments like laser, chemical peels and botox) are the essentials – however, the backs of the hands can be an age giveaway, so if you are outside a lot, and not wearing gloves, pay attention to these too. A full teaspoon is required to properly protect the face and neck, so you may need a little more than this to completely cover the exposed areas. If you don’t have the required volume, you won’t actually be getting the level of protection declared by the SPF. Sunscreen needs to be applied 15 minutes before sun exposure, so before your breakfast is better than just before you run out the door clutching you coffee in the morning.
A lot of moisturisers, tinted moisturisers and foundations contain SPF, so is this all you need? Realistically, no. The SPF on these is usually 15 or 20, and sometimes you may not be using enough of it to be even getting this protection reliably (unless you absolutely cake on 4 or 5 layers with a trowel!). As SPF is not cumulative (SPF in moisturiser can’t be added onto the number contained in foundation – you only get the higher number of the two, if that), and SPF30 is the minimum you need, you have two choices:
- use a moisturiser with SPF30 or higher – and lather it on (maaaaybe not for oily skin like mine though)
- use a sunscreen instead of your moisturiser, I personally love the tinted SPF50 fluid from La Roche-Posay -it’s a very thin, light fluid and one of the few my skin can tolerate.
If you have oily skin, it can be tough to convince yourself that daily suncream is a good idea – I know I resisted winter application for years for fear of breakouts (I do avoid it occasionally when exercising and use a hat instead). However, although the sun sometimes seems to help clear up spots, it hugely increases the likelihood of scarring where the spot was, and it leads to larger pores by destroying the collagen around them. I am just back from a training seminar that specifically addressed the cause of acne, so there will be a post up next week on how to target this daily and manage to wear sunscreen at the same time.
The most delicate area of the face is just below your eyes – and, as most of us know, very susceptible to dark circles, thinning skin and wrinkles – so I try to wear sunglasses as often realistically possible (without looking like a dope if possible, obvs) to protect this vulnerable area.
Do you wear suncream daily, and have you had any skin changes as a result? I would love to know what brand everyone is using!