Is Sunscreen That Important?
Yes. Sunscreen is that important.
As our glorious leader Charlotte Cho said in her book (highly recommend) a tan is just visible sun damage. And sun damage leads to pre-mature aging, wrinkles and sagginess. Oh and cancer. If that doesn't frighten you not much else will. But if that does mildly concern you then keep reading. And if not, well keep reading anyway because it should.
- Melanoma is a very real and very frightening form of cancer that comes from sun exposure.
- UVA Rays advance aging by what looks like literal years (see Bill McElligott for proof).
- UBV Rays are the superficial rays that laser the top part of your skin, giving you that gnarly burn from last weeks beach day.
- BOTH are causes of skin cancer!!
- One of the one ways to combat the suns harmful rays without becoming an indoors hermit is SPF!
- Sunscreen helps significantly lessen the risk of pimples becoming artificial scars.
- Sunscreens smell really nice these days and there are heaps to chose from, particularly within the Korean beauty sector.
Story time. So in New Zealand we have a gigantic hole in the Antarctic Ozone layer, a layer of gas which is meant to protect us from direct contact with our sun. It is supposed to absorb most of the suns radiation (of which it has a lot) but in the Pacific this isn’t the case. This depleted ozone layer is responsible for the mammoth 14% jump in melanoma cases in the last decade. Melanoma is an aggressive and painful skin cancer that most often appears in the form of moles. It can be deadly and needs to be treated with extreme caution. Advertising in NZ for melanoma awareness has really ramped up in the last few years and has been my main awareness of it however it is also hugely prevalent in countries such as North America, Canada, Cuba and surprisingly also Northern Europe. However due to this gigantic hole, Australia and New Zealand have the highest incidence of melanoma in the world, more than twice as high as in the States. In the last year there have been reports that the hole is slowly decreasing in size but it is estimated that it will be at the very minimum, another 30 years before us kiwis are able to tan sort of safely. So let's try keep the skin cancer to a minimum yeah?
Think about it- remember all those little suns we used to draw as kids? It wasn't really a sun unless it had rays right? It took me a long time to realise that these rays weren't actually visible and I was pretty disappointed to find out the sun was just a big round ball. But anyway these very real rays are called UV Rays, or Ultra Violet Radiation and basically create the umbrella term for all things sunburn and pain. You've probably heard about the two categories, UVA and UVB which are marketed on your sunscreen bottles. Basically, UVA rays penetrate deep into the skin causing advanced aging (it attacks the collagen) AND is a huge cancer risk. Remember that story a few years back of the truck driver called Bill McElligott who had driven a truck for twenty-eight years without wearing sunscreen? His whole left side, the side exposed to the sun, looked as those it had been aged by about 20 years. I don't know about you, but I want to be a graceful old lady with as much elasticity in my skin as I can get so just keep that in mind the next time you hop in the car on the way to the supermarket. On the other hand, there is UBV- the more artificial burn you get after a long day at the beach. Both of these are the causes of skin cancer and should be your worst enemy.
Generally speaking you want to protect against both of these evil critters. Ever wondered what broad spectrum protection meant? It means that it has you covered on both ray fronts and should be your best pal. Picking an SPF is also super important and honestly I would recommend getting at least a 35+ but ideally you want to be aiming for a SPF of 50. This is because the higher the number, the longer the sunscreen protection will be active .The main measuring unit for SPF is based on time: multiplying the time it takes for your unprotected skin to burn by the SPF #. For example, a 10 minute burn time and an SPF of 15 will give you around about 150 minutes. You'll often find PA scale next to the SPF number in Korean sunscreens which is just a Japanese measurement for UVA. PA+ is low UVA protection while PA+++ is the highest (i.e. the one you want). In terms of skincare, you really want to being wearing SPF in order to reduce the pigmentation left behind by those nasty pimples. Often times you'll think you finally succeeded in getting rid of one of those nasties only to be left with a brown or pink mark (depending on your skin tone) that doesn’t clear up for ages. These are marks are called pigmentations and in short are a small buildup of melanin triggered by UV. These artificial scars darken with exposure to the sun so your best bet is to add SPF to your morning routine (after your moisturizer and before your makeup!) in order to steer clear from any unwanted marks on your face. Nowadays pigmentation is my main skin concern (due to my terrible habit of picking at my skin and those teenage years of desperate attempts to be as tan as my friends) and can be treated with other products and ingredients but prevention is your best bet on avoiding it altogether!
Technology in the sunscreen department has made HUGE developments in recent years and if you've used any recently you'll know that they are a lot less sticky, slimy and smelly as they used to be. You can get your average sun protection from the supermarket for your body and then buy a facial sunscreen for your, well, face. This is where buying sunscreen can actually be sort of fun. Korean sunscreen not only smells amazing but is generally created so that it can sit perfectly under your makeup without ruining your foundation. It's also cute! I'm currently using the Missha All Around Sun Block Essence Sun SPF 45/ PA+++ which is true to form, in cute pink packaging. Missha is very popular for their sunscreens, namely the Missha All-Around Safe Block Sun Screen SPF 5/PA+++ which is really just a waterproof version. Recently, the Klairs Midday Blue Sun Lotion SPF 40PA++ has been making a name for itself in the K-Beauty world because of it's power but mainly the pretty blue colour that can help counteract redness! It's made the rounds on YouTube in particular with youtubers like Joan Kim and BiiBeauty raving about it! The best part about Korean Sunscreen is most of the products are marketed for sensitive skin so you can't really go wrong. If you're lazy like I am and want to be told what to buy, a really great sensitive sunscreen is COSRX Aloe Soothing Sun Cream SPF 50/PA+++. As you'll come to see I'm a huge fan and avid supporter of COSRX so anything from them is a real gem. However sunscreen is sunscreen and good quality facial SPF is also available at the supermarkets. I got my Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Face SPF 50+ from Countdown for around $13 NZD and use it on days I'm not wearing makeup as I find it doesn't work as well under BB cream.
Not Over Just Yet
Finally before we finish, there are a few crucial things to remember. Firstly, sunscreen must be applied 30 minutes before going outside in order to form protection. If you put it on just before you leave you are putting yourself at unnecessary risk that you are working hard to avoid. Secondly, if you can, wait around 10 minutes before applying your face makeup so that it can properly absorb into your skin. These days, Korean companies are working hard to include SPF into their cushion compacts for another layer of protection so be sure to check a couple of these out at the end of the blog! And finally make sure you reapply every three hours. This used to be a huge pain in the butt, but with these ever increasingly popular cushion compacts you can retouch your SPF when you retouch your makeup! Handy.
Just to make things clear, I'm not saying you shouldn't go to the beach or that you should spend all your time indoors. If you're in a country or city like mine where the beach is apart of your culture you'll know that is near impossible. What I am saying is to be aware, apply and reapply often. Moral of the story is that SPF is really important because the sun isn’t actually your skins best friend but sunscreen is!
Where to find the products!
Missha All Around Sun Block Essence Sun SPF45/PA+++:
New Zealand/ Australia:
Missha All-Around Safe Block Sun Screen SPF 5/PA+++:
Nashi Lab- goo.gl/JU7QrC
Klairs Midday Blue Sun Lotion SPF 40PA++:
COSRX Aloe Soothing Sun Cream SPF 50/PA+++:
New Zealand/ Australia:
Nashi Lab- goo.gl/zg1cK2
SPF Cushion Compacts
Klairs Mochi BB Cushion SPF 40: a review for this is on its way so get hyped~
Etude House AC Clean Up Mild BB Cushion SPF50/PA+++: this compact has cosmetic treatment to help fight acne as well.
New Zealand/ Australia:
Pony Effect Ever Lasting Cushion Foundation SPF 50/PA+++: raved about by Edward Avila and I trust him.
April Skin Magic Snow Cushion SPF 50/PA+++: has SO many great reviews online, I'm hoping to buy it myself.
Style Korean- goo.gl/tBPKOQ
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