Beauty Clinic: Sun protection from ageing
Q. I generally buy tinted moisturiser or a BB cream with an SPF - but looking at the label I am not sure it has proper UVA protection. Can you help? A, This is an increasing concern. On the one hand, it is good that cosmetics companies are putting an SPF in moisturisers, tinted moisturisers, BBs and even foundations now – but on the other hand, it may lead consumers to think their skin is protected from ALL the damaging UV rays. And often it is not.
The story is a bit tricky: cosmetic products must be tested in the same way as sun care - so if your moisturiser says SPF15, that is correct. However, the thickness creams are tested at doesn't reflect real-life use: in reality, you will probably get half the protection that's on the label. In addition, cosmetics (such as tinted moisturiser and BB creams) are less likely to be rub-resistant and water-resistant - and you put them on much more thinly than sun care products. And, crucially, which relates to your question, they may not contain the EU recommended amount of UVA protection - which is now at least a third of the labelled SPF.
Although it is an invisible foe (because it penetrates deeper into the skin) UVA is now known to contribute to skin cancer, both malignant melanoma and the non-malignant, but nasty tumours called squamous and basal cell carcinomas. In addition, the UVA rays are particularly 'Ageing' (it helps to remember: UVA for Ageing, UVB for burning.) UVA can also be a factor in developing actinic keratoses (AKs), which may not look that bad but can lead to skin cancer – and removing them makes a beastly mess.
So the message is: you need to be sure that you are getting proper UVA protection. The recent European recommendations are that manufacturers label products with UVA in a circle to show that they have reliable amounts of UVA protection. You can also look for the words ‘protects against UVA’, or similar. If neither is there, you have to assume that you must use a separate facial SPF. We like a long-lasting product – in most cases, you should apply every two hours. This one lasts for about eight hours: Ultrasun SPF30 Face Anti Ageing Formula Once A Day, £19.95 for 30 ml, from www.victoriahealth.com - buy here.
You could also try the new Garnier Ambre Solaire BB Cream High SPF30, also in SPF50, with vitamin E. This tinted moisturiser also illuminates and evens skin tone and is specially formulated for face and neck. Remember: you should apply this before you go in the sun and, if you are out sunbathing or continuously in bright sunlight, reapply it frequently. So if you put it on at 7 a.m. before going to work and plan to go out again at lunchtime, then slap it on once more. (You can find this nationwide, or buy here.)
The positive news is that in general, women suffer less skin cancer than men - and experts think it is because we wear foundation, which contains pigments that are in themselves sun-protective. Pure mineral make-up also adds a valuable layer of sun protection, so you may want to try a range like bareMinerals, which is also available nationwide.
• Ultrasun SPF30 Face Anti Ageing Formula Once A Day/£19.95 for 30 ml, from www.victoriahealth.com - buy here