Vacation musings: Let’s talk sun protection!

May 17, 2014

When I think vacations, I think sunny beaches, endless hours dozing on a hammock in the breeze. It’s interesting because not too long ago beach holidays didn’t interest me at all, I wanted to visit cities, museums, shopping, theater, etc. Probably another sign of aging. But whilst I cannot stay the test of time, I can at least prevent further damage to my skin with proper sun protection!

As a youngster (see, more old-ladyness creeping up), sunscreens seemed so unnecessary. It was hip to be tanned! But these days, I slab on sunscreen even if I’m just doing housework at home, because those UV rays come through regardless of rain or shine! After about 2 years of applying sunscreen diligently, I have definitely grown fairer, dropping from NC25-30 to NC20. Now in case you think it is my irrational need to get paler, let me put things in context for you… now at least my face isn’t twice as dark as the rest of my body.

And let’s not forget the damage that UV rays inflict on the lower dermis level, damage that are invisible to the carefree youngster, but creep up in the later years. Not to mention the heightened risk of skin cancer. For more information on the known health effects of UVA and UVB, read here.

Before this grows into a health & wellness advisory, let me turn to the real topic at hand – Sun Protection!! Pretty much anything comes with SPF built in these days, but as the wise old lady says, it never hurts to have an extra layer of protection! Although, do note that SPF levels do not stack up, i.e. SPF15 moisturizer + SPF15 foundation do not equal SPF30 in total. The amount of protection you have depends on the highest SPF rating that you applied. As a rule of thumb, SPF30 is generally sufficient for mostly indoors activity. If you are going to be out and about soaking up the sun, then SPF50 is better.

If you think that sunscreens (note: we no longer say “sunblock” as it is impossible to completely block all UV, and the FDA has banned the use) are thick, icky, sticky and uncomfortable…think again! The new generation of sunscreens come in both watery fluid and richer cream textures. But most of them absorb quickly and are light weight on the skin. Many also come with some color correcting properties to double up as makeup bases, and some include skin care benefits!

I have on hand quite a few at the moment, and would like to introduce you to the many possibilities of sun protection.

Orbis UV Cut Sunscreen on Face SPF34 PA++ Light

Orbis UV Cut Sunscreen on Face Light SPF34 PA++

Orbis is a Japanese brand under cosmetics giant Pola, and features products that are oil-free and suitable for sensitive skin. There are several sunscreens with varying SPF levels, and the one I have contains SPF34 PA++. It has a light fluid texture that applies easily and absorbs quickly. It also has a neutral beige tint to it, which helps a little to tone down some redness but not much. For those with drier skin, there is a cream version as well.

Orbis UV Cut Sunscreen on Face Light SPF34 PA++ swatch

What makes the Orbis UV Cut Sunscreen on Face unique is it boasts of some special ingredients to make you look prettier. Things like “Skin Environment Control Powder” to absorb perspiration; rosemary extract to heal and soothe skin; “Special Ultra-White Lighting Powder” to brighten skin tone; and a “Beauty Light Special Ingredient” to fix the sunscreen to the skin for longer periods.

I’m always a little skeptical to skincare claims in cosmetics, particularly when they come in fancy terms without disclosing actual ingredients. Regardless, as a sunscreen, this has become a daily staple, and is a real pleasure to use. It also does not break the bank at SGD15 for 28ml (approximately USD12 for 1 oz.).

Orbis is available at their counters at Raffles City and Takashimaya in Singapore, and online via Sasa.

NUXE White Daily UV Protector SPF30 PA+++

NUXE White Daily UV Protector SPF30 PA+++

The latest range of skincare from NUXE targeting the Asian market, NUXE White uses extracts from White Crocus,Stargazer LilyPorcelain Rose and Cherry Blossom in conjunction with Vitamin C to provide greater whiteness, luminosity and hydration.  The NUXE White Daily UV Protector contains SPF30 PA+++  for daily protection, and boasts of other benefits such as cellular repair and anti-pollution protection.

NUXE White Daily UV Protector SPF30 PA+++ swatch

It is a light fluid texture, the most runny and thin out of all those discussed today, and has a crisp floral scent.  It absorbs quickly, and does not leave any stickiness or oiliness on the skin.  Priced at SGD45 for 30ml (approximately USD35 for 1 oz.), it is considerably pricier than Orbis, while feeling rather the same to me.  The skincare benefits sound fancy, and if stacked against the higher brand names (some to follow shortly), it is priced reasonably.  Nothwithstanding, it is on the high end for a drugstore brand.

NUXE White is available exclusively in Asia, and can be found in all major drugstores.

Too Cool For School Jean George Llong SPF50 PA+++

Too Cool for School Jean George Llong Sunblock SPF50 PA+++

I’ve always had a soft spot for Too Cool for School products, I mean, how can you resist that hunk of abs?!?!! Gah, my eyes!! This Jean George Llong sunscreen has a creamy texture that goes on silkily. It boasts of aloe vera to provide moisturizing benefits, and a special “wrinkle cover powder” to act as a makeup base. It is waterproof, sweat-proof, and with SPF50, there is no need to reapply. It is also free of other nasties such as paraben, PABA, benzophenone, talc, and mineral oil.

Of all the sun protection products featured today, this one feels the least matte, that is to say, it felt oilier than the rests. I have to be very careful here, as oily sunscreens conjure up images of olden times Banana Boat (remember those??! Really, just me??) sunblocks that slab on and leave a white sheen. No, get that out of your mind’s eye! Jean George Llong is smooth… like real smooth… hunky smooth… and leaves no sheen nor white cast. But its cream texture is heavier than the rests, and when my own skin’s sebum factory kicks in, it doesn’t hold my makeup. It is perhaps akin to a light BB or CC cream, except it provides no coverage. Best used as a base to powder foundation or for drier skin types.

Too Cool for School Jean George Llong Sunblock SPF50 PA+++ swatch

Too Cool for School’s Jean George Llong SPF50 PA+++ retails for SGD28 for 50ml (approximately USD22 for 1.7oz.), and is available at Too Cool for School stores at Far East Shopping Center and Westgate, or online via Qoo10.

NIA24 Sun Damage Prevention Broad Spectrum SPF30

I received this deluxe sample in the last SpaceNK Beauty Bag.

NIA24

NIA24, a Niacin-powered skincare line produced by NIADyne, which is a US-based beauty company founded by a bunch of scientists. The key ingredient is the patented Pro-Niacin, which helps to deliver Niacin deep into the skin, where it helps to stimulate DNA repair and rebuild the skin barrier. Niacin boosts energy metabolism, stimulates the release of Leptin hormone to regulate metabolism, and modulates blood cholesterol levels.  In theory, this will help skin look and feel healthier.

NIA24 is a light weight cream that absorbs instantly leaving no white residue. And the very first time I used it, I loved the texture. The claim of a significant amount of Pro-Niacin makes this a unique product in the market, coupled with other delicious sounding ingredients like mango butter, ceramides (for hydration) and antioxidants.

NIA24 Sun Damage Prevention Broad Spectrum SPF30

However, NIA24 uses chemical sunscreens such as avobenzone and octocrylene to protect against UVA/UVB rays; as opposed to physical sunscreens such as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide which are more commonly used. The use of chemical sunscreens is highly controversial, and poses severe health risks. To find out more, read here.

Thankfully, there is a version of this sunscreen that uses only physical blockers – NIA24 Sun Damage Prevention 100% Mineral Sunscreen. Unfortunately, I do not have this, and am unable to give you my impressions on it.

NIA24 retails for USD49 for 75ml / 2.5oz. and is available online via SpaceNK US and Skinstore.

Guerlain Blanc de Perl UV Base SPF30 PA+++

Guerlain Blanc de Perle UV Base SPF30 PA+++

I had briefly introduced this here when it was first launched in Asia last year. It has a fluid texture that goes on silkily without any oily or sticky sensations, and provides a smooth flawless base for makeup. The unique selling point of this sunscreen is that it comes in 3 different shades – an ivory untinted shade, a beige shade to correct for redness, and a rose shade to brighten. The color correcting property of this sunscreen is really quite powerful, and so you may skip a separate color correcting base if that is part of your usual routine. It also comes in both SPF30 and SPF50 (only available in ivory). I’ve tried both versions, and found SPF50 to be just a bit thicker so I prefer the SPF30 in ivory (as I don’t really need much color correcting), but I have finished that and am now trying rose (pictured above).

Guerlain Blanc de Perle UV Base swatch
Guerlain Blanc de Perl UV Base SPF30 PA+++ contains Guerlain’s P.E.A.R.L. Complex to brighten skin from within and lighten dark spots. It retails for SGD82 for 30ml (which is a rather painful on the wallet, but if you can skip a correcting base, then that’s 1 product saved) and is exclusive to Asia.

YSL Top Secrets UV Shield SPF50 PA++++

YSL Top Secrets UV Shield SPF50 PA++++

This is one of my favorite sunscreens out of all being discussed today.  It has one of the highest protection factors and a true broad spectrum coverage.  All that in a lovely light fluid texture that gets absorbed instantly without any lingering trace of oiliness whatsoever.  It also has detoxifying and antioxidant benefits… one really cannot ask for more!  I had reviewed this in detail last year, so please pop over here for the read!

YSL Top Secrets UV Shield SPF50 PA++++ swatch

YSL Top Secrets UV Shield SPF50 PA++++ retails for SGD69 for 30ml (approximately USD53 for 1 oz.) which is certainly in the luxury end of the market.  It is available at most YSL counters globally.

Chanel Sublimage La Protection UV SPF30 PA++

Chanel Sublimage La Protection UV

I had introduced this here when this product was launched last year and tried a sample then. I was recently given another small sample, and found to my surprise that I still like it quite a bit. Infused with the Vanilla Planifolia extract, the Chanel Sublimage La Protection UV SPF30 PA++ works on the cellular level of the dermis to reverse signs of aging. It has a fluid texture that absorbs instantly, smells lovely, and leaves skin ready for makeup right away.

Chanel Sublimage La Protection UV SPF30 PA++ swatch

As with the rest of Chanel’s Sublimage line, La Protection UV SPF30 PA++ is a decadent treat. Priced at SGD166 for 30ml (approximately USD130 for 1oz.), this is not your everyday sunscreen. And despite the high price, this provides the least protection out of all the sunscreens discussed today.

Chanel Sublimage La Protection UV SPF30 PA++ is available at all Chanel counters and most good online retailers.

Conclusion

Sunscreens have come a long way from their early days, and are now available in a wide plethora of choices. All of the sunscreens discussed here today are good in their own ways. They are not selected to be featured here for comparison purposes, but rather, an introduction of some lovelies that I’ve had the pleasure to experience. It has also given me an opportunity to discuss some of the “technology” behind sun protection, which I hope has been illuminating. Regardless of your budget, there is bound to be something suitable for you. And I hope you have been persuaded to incorporate sun protection into your daily regiment, if you hadn’t already!  xoxo