This going to be a lengthy read so grab a cuppa or a vino and settle yourself in your snuggle spot. If you want to skip the dogma of sunscreen health and sciency stuff about what is UV etc (I suggest you don’t), go to paragraph 6 and 7 for a fake tanning palooza! If you just want the skinny on what issues are raised by sunscreens go to paragraph 8, and for the rant, head to paragraph 11. Happy reading!
In the past 12 months or so, I’ve noticed a disturbing trend. My sun protection has disappeared from my favourite tinted moisturisers and foundations.
Straight off the bat, if the reason this has happened, is as I suspect, then I’m even more incensed. The InstaGlam trend. Grrrr. Now before y’all go chewing my butt out, hear me out for a tick.
The number one factor that contributes to ageing skin is sun exposure leading to skin damage. All tanning made to the skin via sun exposure is skin damage. The bottom line is, if you want to stay young looking longer or preserve what you have, you need to shield your skin from certain damage due to UVR (ultraviolet radiation) most notably UVA and UVB rays.
Any naked exposure (including tanning oils with no SPF protection) will cause instant damage to your skin which effects your skin’s genetic structure, causing mutations and abnormal growth patterns. Even incidental light through windows and car tint will allow some radiation. For more in depth information on how the sun damages your skin I have referenced The Original Beauty Bible  by Paula Begoun below. Check it out if you have ever had a skin concern you haven’t been able to resolve. Or refer to the Cancer Council article for all the facts.
The Cancer Council Australia recommends the following for sufficient sun protection, when the UV (Ultrviolet) index is above 3 (0 = low to 11 = Extreme), covering clothing, a broad-brim hat, shade, sunglasses and sunscreen. The recommended use of sunscreen is a broad-spectrum, sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 30 and is water-resistant. Application should be applied 20 minutes before going outside, using an adequate amount (by adequate they mean one teaspoon for each exposed body part) and reapplying after swimming or sweating and/or every two hours. It almost sounds like a full time occupation. Your trusty weather app on your phone will often indicate the UV index on any given day. I would recommend you use SPF no matter the rating if venturing outside.
Now that I’ve scared the pants off you, or should have, as you all know, we need some sun exposure to maintain adequate Vitamin D levels which are responsible for bone development and musculoskelletal health. Vitamin D is required to regulate the production of calcium levels to maintain healthy bones and contributes to the preventing of falls in the elderly, which has to do with cartilage strength. Only 5-10% of Vitamin D can be obtained through diet alone.
Having informed you on the scientific findings of people that specialise in this area, I love a tan, I love summer. I love those hot sun-shiney waves radiating down upon my skin. As a radio show host Bianca Dye once touted “brown fat looks better than white fat”. A tan does slim down ones figure, and in our society, ‘fitness’ is next to godliness.
The safest (and only recommended) place to get bronzy, godess-like skin, is in a bottle or a can.
A simple recipe for a great fake bake: Remove any body hair you find odorous and exfoliate your bod – the exfoliating mits or gloves are good, either with a body scrub, sea salt or bicarbonate of soda. Concentrate on elbows, knees, heels and soles of feet, moisturise any dry areas like I just mentioned, put on some latex or vinyl gloves (this is essential for avoiding tan hands) you can now use your gloved hands or an application mitt and go to town, slathering on your fake tan of choice! Make sure it is evenly rubbed in or spayed on. Most formulations allow you to rub it in like moisturiser and I recommend treating it like one. When your done and air-drying, take off your gloves and rub the backs of your hands over your hips to get a slight smear of tan on the back of your hands. Otherwise you just look like you have a pair of white gloves. Weird.
Quick mention of my current favourite tan in a can : Bondi Sands. Love the mouse. Love the spray. Love the colour and it doesn’t smell like the 80’s.
Sun Protection Formulations
Let’s talk a bit about formulations and ingredients since what it contains has a direct effect of why I suspect SPF is being vetoed from my favourite bases. You have generally speaking, two types of sunscreen ingredients, naturally derived mineral inert (non-reactive) chemicals and synthetically manufactured chemicals. Both have their pros and cons and both require different application methods.
‘Natural’ or more accurately ‘mineral’ sunscreens are titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. These are classified as physical blockers as they deflect UV rays from the surface. It was once believed that they must be applied to your skin last, after moisturiser, foundation, powder or setting spray, however new research has discovered that they work the same as chemical SPFs.
They are the least irritating as the minerals are inert (do not react), are unlikely to cause an allergic reaction and they protect the skin predominantly from UVA rays. Which are the silent killers that cause tanning. The drawbacks of these ingredients are they can leave a white cast on darker skins, require a more liberal application for full protection, will make your face sweat as they create a barrier to the sun and due to their derived source (ore) they bounce light back when a flash of light hits it, such as under photographic conditions, ergo, it produces the dreaded ‘white face’ or ‘top-deck’ effect. Cosmetic companies use them by and large because they are cheaper to include as well as for the above benefits. Personally, I would like to see a setting spray like Skindinavia produce a product with a high SPF.
Synthetically derived sunscreen ingredients such as avobenzone, oxybenzone, ecamsule, octinoxate and octisalate among many others (there’s like 30 different chemicals) are classified as chemical blockers. Chemical sunscreens act by absorbing UV radiation via their chemical bonds and deactivate them [4,5]. Due to their method of action, they can be applied under make-up. However, recent They are preferred over mineral sunscreens as they do not create a white cast or flashback, they don’t go milky looking when reacting to sweat or water and are usually used in thinner or lighter formulations which are most suited to oily or blemish prone skin types. However, they can be highly irritating, especially around the eyes.
Why the change?
Here is where I get a little cranky. What I am concerned with given the above information, most importantly the fact that companies are not including SPF in their formulas of late, is we may see a generation of skin cancer like we haven’t seen since before we knew that facts about the damage the sun can do. I’m talking about putting us back 50 years in terms of sun sense.
I suspect it is due to the rise in social media doyens poo poo-ing the issue of flash back for their self promotion. Remember, flashback only occurs when flash photography is utilised, say on your phone camera or in professional photographic studio or flash environments. It occurs because the photons of light bounce off those light reflecting particles in titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. It also occurs with silica particles in powders.
I can’t think why else a cosmetic company, other than media trends and cost cutting, would remove a functional aspect of it’s cosmetics that preserves your physical health.
Arguments Against SPF in Make-up
Back in February of this year, one of my favourite professional make-up artists and beauty bloggers, Kevin James Bennett released an article on his In My Kit FB page saying that SPF in foundations are just a marketing gimmick and don’t provide adequate sun protection at the low rate most of them include in their formulations. I agree with his latter point, cosmetic companies are not providing adequate protection when their SPF is listed below 30. Personally, I would still rather see people using a lower SPF in their beauty routine than none at all. The current beauty trend is perhaps discouraging the use of SPF entirely. I disagree that they are a marketing gimmick and would posture the point, is it a health hazard not to include SPF in their products?
A favourite YouTube personality, Wayne Goss submitted this video when I was in the middle of writing this article. He demonstrates the amount of sunscreen/foundation you would have to apply to get adequate coverage according to the recommended requirements. Needless to say, it’s a lil full coverage for most people’s liking. Watch it. He’s hilarious.
Other blogs have postured that SPF mixed in with foundation is kind of like holding a shield with holes in it up to the sun, letting in tiny shards of damaging rays. I’m a little sceptical about this. If that’s the case, then Invisible Zinc and ALL other tinted sunscreens or make-up products are hypothetically in the same boat. Now, I know from hearing how difficult it is for overseas manufacturers to get sun protection products past Australia’s strict standards, that if that were the case, they could not be sold or classified as a sun protection product. Mixing it yourself, I agree would be questionable, but manufacturing it and testing it for public consumption and still failing to provide protection? Highly unlikely. Can someone who has access to UV photography please do some testing?
What is the Solution?
As someone with excessively oily skin, I know the main catalyst to spread a mineral SPF evenly throughout a mixture is generally oil or silicone based. My greasy complexion will generally oil off any product with an hour or so. It is not convenient for me to remove my make-up, apply a chemical SPF and then my foundation again every two hours. It’s much more practical to blot the excess oil, touch up my already SPF formulated foundation and apply an additional SPF powder than to start over.
What I have done, based on several references I’ve found pottering about, is the following:
- Cleanse skin
- Apply sun protection
- Leave to set for 3-5 minutes – It needs time to settle into a flexible barrier
- Apply moisturiser or primer
- Apply the rest of my make-up using gentle tools that won’t disrupt the underlying barrier
- Stay out of the sun during the pointy end of the spectrum 12pm to 3pm
- If I’m going in the sun during this period and have done my make-up earlier that morning, I blot the inevitable oil slick away and reapply SPF and foundation again
Since implementing this new regime, I have noticed my skin looking better and my skin treatments not needing to work so hard. I must reluctantly concede that SPF in my make-up wasn’t doing as good a job as proper application prior to make-up application. Or perhaps I just wasn’t re-applying it as often as required… or as thickly…
What do you think? Is it a disservice to remove SPF from formulations or just an inconvenience? What products do you use to protect you skin from sun damage? Does white-face flashback really concern you?
Pop a line down in the comments, I’d love to hear your views!
- The Original Beauty Bible, Paula Begoun, 3rdEdition, Beginning Press