Today I wanted to do a beauty post to talk about the similarities and differences between two Elizabeth Arden lipsticks – the new Elizabeth Arden Ceramide Ultra lipstick and the recently-discontinued Elizabeth Arden Plump Perfect lipstick.
Last time we talked about lipsticks I was trying to get my hands on the Elizabeth Arden Plump Perfect lipstick to find out how it compared to other plumping products that I had reviewed. I ordered one on Amazon and was super excited for it to arrive.
Due to a set of weird co-incidences, I had to send it off to get it tested to make sure it really was a genuine product. In the meantime, I tried to buy another one from Boots because I was stoked to get this lipstick and I wanted it NOW.
Due to another set of bizzarre events, Boots did not send me the Plump Perfect lipstick, they actually sent me the Ceramide Ultra lipstick. I told them, they apologized, and then sent me the exact same wrong lipstick again. So I gave up on trying to get what I ordered and decided to just use the Ceramide Ultra lipstick instead.
The Plump Perfect lipstick that I’d originally bought on Amazon then came back, confirmed as genuine, and I thought to myself, why not do an article comparing these two lipsticks, I’m sure loads of people want to know whether the new one is anything like the discontinued (but still available on Amazon) version. Boots claims to stock the Plump Perfect lipstick but as you can see, it’s extremely likely you’ll end up with the Ceramide Ultra lipstick if you try to get one from them.
Here’s my detailed comparison:
Packaging: The Plump Perfect is in a thicker, plastic gold-coloured tube. The Ceramide Ultra lipstick comes in this beautiful (slimmer) golden tube that just makes you feel like a queen when you get it out of its silver box (I keep mine in its box).
Colour payoff: The Ceramide Ultra has (very slightly) more colour payoff but there’s really not much difference between them for this. You have to go over the Plump Perfect a few times to get a similar colour payoff.
Shade: Since I couldn’t get the exact same shade, I’m comparing the shade “Sugar” in Ceramide Ultra Lipstick with “Perfect Bare” in the Plump Perfect. The main difference in these shades is that Perfect Bare was a very sparkly brown lipstick whereas the Sugar colour is more matte/satin with slightly more of a pink base. This doesn’t really make a difference to how they look on my face because I’m neutral toned, but it’s worth knowing for the 90% of you who are more warm or cool toned.
Texture: The Plump Perfect lipstick feels slightly rougher, or more solid, than the Ceramide Ultra lipstick.
Weight: They’re both 3.5g or 0.12oz.
Duration: The colour was less long lasting on the Ceramide Ultra – but I like to take my lippie off when I eat and drink and reapply it afterwards so I prefer it to be easy to remove (unless it’s a longwear lip stain type thing in which case it needs to stay PUT), so if you want a slightly longer lasting lipstick go for the Plump Perfect.
Plumping: The thing that really swayed me towards the Ceramide Ultra lipstick was that it was more plumping than the Plump Perfect lipstick. I wore it non-stop for the first two weeks I had it, then I stopped wearing it after I found out it was the wrong product, and my lips stayed pretty plump for several days after I discontinued it. My top lip, especially, really looked better than I’ve ever seen it. Usually I have trouble trying to plump my top lip that when I plump it, it tends to stick out more but doesn’t seem to fill downwards, which is where I want it to go. With the Ceramide Ultra Lipstick I was really impressed that it managed to get my top lip to fill out. When it turned out Boots still couldn’t get my order right, so I didn’t have to return the first Ceramide Ultra lipstick they sent me (I sent back the unopened one instead), I was so happy to start using the Ceramide Ultra again like you would NOT believe, I just totally fell in love with it.
Moisture: Another thing that made me fall in love with the Ceramide Ultra lipstick was that it was just so moisturizing compared to the Plump Perfect. Usually after wearing lipstick my lips are fairly dried out, and the Plump Perfect was no exception, but the Ceramide Ultra Lipstick seemed to have a balmy moisturizing effect on my lips and I noticed a LOT less dry skin while I was using this lipstick.
Verdict: Surprisingly, I liked the Ceramide Ultra lipstick better than the Plump Perfect lipstick. It’s just very pleasant and I keep reaching for it again and again whenever I need to put some lipstick on.
The Elizabeth Arden Ceramide Ultra Lipstick is available for £21 from any Elizabeth Arden counter. The last time I found a lipstick that I loved this much was in 2006. I was genuinely close to tears when I thought I had to return the Elizabeth Arden Ceramide Ultra lipstick to Boots. It blows the Elizabeth Arden Plump Perfect lipstick out of the water. From now on, I’m going to be buying the Ceramide Ultra lipstick from an actual beauty counter, or (given my experiences trying to buy Elizabeth Arden lipstick online) who knows what I might end up with!! Even after the Plump Perfect (the one I originally bought on Amazon) came back as genuine, I still found myself reaching for the Ceramide Ultra lipstick. It just looks and feels (both in the packaging and on my face) like a better lipstick.
What do you think? Have you tried either of these? Which do you prefer? Let me know in the comments!
This is my ultimate guide to lip plumping: I’ve reviewed 9 lip plumpers to show you how to get bigger lips quickly, safely, and on the cheap!
If you’re anything like me, you wish you were born with plumper lips, like Kylie Jenner lips, or Angelina Jolie lips – those voluptuous levels of plump. I hear you. I’ve spent loads of time trying all those “natural” lip plumping ingredients such as mint and cinnamon, as well as store bought products. I didn’t have as much success as I could until I formulated a method to get bigger lips whenever I wanted them.
I found out after trying loads of different lip plumpers that it requires a bit of strategy to get bigger lips, you see – just putting plumpers on your lips and checking them in the mirror won’t actually help. In my experience (and I’ve been plumping my lips since 2005), the absolute best thing for lip plumping are two ingredients: Sodium Hyaluronate (hyaluronic acid, a natural substance that your body produces) and Maxi Lip (a peptide blend; peptides are naturally found in the body). Read on to find out how to use these for the very best results. After my lip plumping method, I’ve reviewed the 9 lip plumping products that I’ve tried and tested: Soap and Glory Sexy Mother Pucker Gloss; Collection (was Collection 2000) Plumping Lip Gloss; Collection Volume Sensation Lipstick; Avon Anew Lip Plumping Conditioner; Lip Venom; Physician’s Formula Plump Potion Needle Free Plumping Cocktail; Boots 17 Volumizing Lip Gloss; Soap and Glory Sexy Mother Pucker XL and Rimmel Volume Booster Lip Gloss. Then I share links to the evidence that lip plumpers can and do work. Who needs fillers when you can do this instead?
Lip plumpers alone won’t give you bigger lips. Why? The skin on your lips needs to stretch and grow to accommodate more lip. We don’t live in a world of magic, and our bodies can only do so much. If you don’t let your lips gradually stretch, they won’t stay plumped, even with the best products. Not only that, but they’ll become incredibly uncomfortable and you’ll probably start getting dry crackly bits on them, and your lips will start splitting when you use plumping products. This isn’t a sign that the plumping products aren’t working, it’s a sign that you need a better lip care regime to enable your lips to plump to their largest.
How do you stretch them? If you’re totally new to lip plumping or you haven’t done it for a few months, start with using a lip plumping product once a day. What do you do the rest of the time? Lip balm. To get plump lips, you need to keep your lips moisturized with lip balm at all times. I take mine off only when I’m eating and drinking. Why? Because dry lips don’t stretch properly when you put a plumper on, they crack. You need to moisturize the lips with balms to get them to plump instead of cracking. By doing this, you are making sure there’s enough room inside the lip for them to get bigger. Additionally, many plumping products dry your lips out, so you need to keep them moisturized for that reason as well. I also recommend taking vitamin E supplements so your lips are well-conditioned inside and out (if you’re currently using vitamin K to banish blue circles, take the vitamin E and the vitamin K at least 4 hours apart; consult your physician before taking supplements).
On well-moisturized and cared for lips, increase the frequency of using the plumper to 3 times a day. You should be using it directly on the lips, not (like one confused customer on Amazon) over lipstick and lipliner. How is it going to get to the lips to give you a great result if there’s loads of lipstick in the way? That’s like trying to drink from a bottle with the cap on (obviously in this analogy, if the lipstick is a plumping lipstick, that’s like drinking from a bottle through a sports cap)!
Once your lips are as big as they’re going to get, you need to keep going with your lipcare routine, keeping them moisturized, and continue using the plumper once every day or two. Lip plumping requires a little bit of effort (if you can call it effort to use a plumping product and lipbalm regularly) to maintain bigger lips, but I think it’s worth it because I like how my lips look when they’re plumped.
What’s the best product to use to plump lips? I’ve had a lot of disasters and a lot of success with a few different products. The best lip plumping products contained either Sodium Hyaluronate (which naturally occurs in the body and as an ingredient it is certified vegan and is gluten-free) or a patented ingredient called Maxi-Lip (a natural peptide blend; these peptides aren’t on any animal-derivative lists but I couldn’t 100% guarantee it’s vegan). The best strategy would be to use a product that contained both, or to alternate two separate products containing Sodium Hyaluronate and Maxi-Lip. Both Sodium Hyaluronate and Maxi-Lip are ones that tingle when you put them on.
Unfortunately, all that tingles is not a plumper, and I’ve also had some bad results from a few products that claimed to be plumping but didn’t actually do anything apart from tingle a lot (I’ll name and shame them further down). There’s a lot of inflated claims on the market regarding lip plumping, and some companies choose their words very carefully to mislead customers. On the other hand, I’ve also had some really good results from some products that surprised me. I’ve reviewed 9 different lip plumpers, and unlike other articles where they have huge lists of these, I’ve actually personally tried all the ones I talk about, so I can say what actually worked instead of what the packaging claimed.
Reviewed! Here’s my top picks for lip plumpers:
1. Soap and Glory Sexy Motherpucker plumping lip gloss. It now comes in a range of shades but I’ll always love the shade Half Naked because it was the original one and I think it’s the nicest, I’ve been using it on and off since late 2009. It contains sodium hyaluronate (hyaluronic acid) and I’ve found it to be really effective. It costs $14-15 at Amazon where you can buy it direct from the manufacturer, and is also available in the UK at Boots for £9. I didn’t like the Silver Tubed XL version because it doesn’t work the same way and only produces a temporary plumping result. I liked this Soap and Glory Sexy Motherpucker plumping lip gloss because it’s easy to apply and in my experience one tube lasts a long time, as you don’t need to use much of this to get a plumping effect. Currently this Sexy Mother Pucker plumping lip gloss is my favourite plumping product. 9/10 Plumping ingredient: Sodium Hyaluronate. See it here
2. Collection Plump Up The Volume Lip Gloss (aka Collection 2000). This was the first plumping product that I ever tried and I loved it so much! They discontinued it about 4 years ago, and I started buying their Volumizing Lipstick instead. 8.5/10 Plumping ingredient: Maxi-Lip.
3. Collection Volume Sensation Lipstick. This lipstick was a bit less effective than the Collection lipgloss, but it gave a better result than the Rimmel Volume booster (below). Collection changed the active ingredient in this lipstick from Maxi Lip (a peptide blend) to Sodium Hyaluronate, then they discontinued it completely 6 months ago as well! Now Collection don’t sell any products that contain Sodium Hyaluronate or Maxi Lip, or even anything that plumps lips. You can still find an abundance of these on eBay, but I don’t know if I’d trust them to be sealed. I’ve still got 2 tubes of this that I bought last summer. I use it as a maintenance to keep my lips plump after they’re as plump as I like, and also as a gentle way to start plumping my lips when I haven’t plumped for a few months (steady does it). Since it’s been discontinued, I’m looking at alternatives (see below). 7/10. Plumping ingredients: Maxi-Lip, then Sodium Hyaluronate.
4. Physician’s Formula Plump Potion Needle Free Lip Plumping Cocktail: This stuff was quite nice because it was fairly cheap and it contains a few different lip plumping ingredients for a show-stoppingly plump pout when you use it. I really liked how my lips looked with it on. I didn’t like the fact that it wasn’t a very long lasting result, however, and while it contained the all-important Sodium Hylauronate, I don’t think there was very much of it in there because the plumping result should have lasted longer. 6/10. Plumping ingredients: Caffeine, Hyalauronic Acid, Menthol. See it here.
5. Rimmel Volume Booster Lip Gloss: This stuff didn’t claim to work miracles – it says “up to 40% bigger” on the tube and I would agree that it didn’t go beyond this. If you’re looking for a subtle plump rather than a show-stopping plump, go for this one. If there were no other lip plumping glosses for sale for some reason, I’d buy it again, because it worked a little, but really I wasn’t that impressed. 4/10. Plumping Ingredients: Unknown. See it here
Reviewed: Products that didn’t work for me:
6. Lip Venom: I used this in 2009 until it was empty. Absolutely terrible, it tingled and stung more than some other ones, and made my lips redder due to irritation, but it didn’t plump or increase my lip size at all. It probably works if you have poor circulation. It is a perfect example of a beauty product that got a lot of hype but didn’t deliver results. 2/10. Plumping Ingredients: Nothing.
7. Boots 17 Volumizing Lip Gloss: This did nothing, not even a tingle. I don’t think it even had any active ingredients in it to plump lips. 1/10. Plumping Ingredients: Nothing.
8. Sexy Mother Pucker XL (the silver tube): It does say to finish 2 tubes of the Sexy Mother Pucker lipgloss before using this, and while I had definitely done that in the past, I bought the XL in 2012 after I hadn’t used anything else for about 6 months, so perhaps that’s why it didn’t have much effect on my lips, but I found it to be like Lip Venom – all tingle and no plumping action! 3/10 (because it might work for someone else). Plumping ingredients: Collagen, Menthol. Warning: Contains Sodium Chondroitin Sulfate (shellfish).
9. Avon Anew Plumping Tinted Lip Conditioner: This was basically a tinted lipbalm type product shaped, packaged and priced like a lipstick, that you spread on your lips and it’s supposed to make them bigger. I used it in 2014 for the three months leading up to my wedding and while it was very conditioning of the lips, it did nothing to make my lips bigger, so I didn’t care when I lost it at work. In hindsight I would have spent my money on a better product, especially since it was in the run-up to my wedding. 3/10 (because it was quite moisturizing but didn’t plump). Plumping ingredients: Nothing.
Plumping products that I plan to try (but haven’t tried yet):
1. Elizabeth Arden Plump Perfect Lipstick: I do like a good plumping lipstick; I’m hoping this one will be at least as good as the Collection Volumizing Lipstick because now that’s discontinued, I don’t have a go-to volumizing lipstick. I have ordered the Elizabeth Arden Plump Perfect so as soon as it arrives, I’ll add my review. Active ingredient: Maxi-Lip (a peptide blend).
2. Too Faced Lip Injection Power Plumping Lip Gloss: This looks like it’s got some really good reviews and it’s available on Amazon, so when I next have some money to spend on cosmetics, this is what I’m going to try out! Active Ingredient: Unknown.
What about natural plumpers?
Unfortunately, while I’d like to live in a universe where there’s a plant that plumps lips, I don’t, and neither do you. Here’s my thoughts on the main things being labelled “natural” plumpers: Cinnamon: That tingling sensation is the cinnamon burning your skin. Avoid. It’s become trendy to tell people to use this as an all natural ingredient that magically re-grows lost unicorn horns, because the tingle makes people feel like it’s working, but it’s not. It is classified as an irritant for a reason, and it’s highly allergenic (i.e. that swelling is caused by histamines and can cause permanent disfigurement). Peppermint/Mint Oil: Less allergenic and dangerous than cinnamon, it will cause a local reaction of swelling but it won’t provide any long term results.
The most natural lip plumper is sodium hyaluronate (aka hyaluronic acid, which naturally occurs in the body anyway), and you can find it along with menthol and some other natural ingredients in the Physician’s Formula Plumping Potion.
How do these plumpers work?
If it contains sodium hyaluronate (certified vegan hylauronic acid), it will have a similar effect to the hyaluronic acid fillers, but it will take time for this to happen, because you’re putting the plumping lip gloss on the outside of your lips, and the fillers go on the inside. They both do a similar job, though. An even better set of ingredients to use are the Maxi-Lip quartet: Ethylhexyl Palmitate (and) Tribehenin (and) Sorbitan Isostearate (and) Palmitoyl Tripeptide-1. These naturally occurring plumping peptides have been clinically proven to stimulate collagen growth and used to be available in the Collection Volumizing Lipstick. It is the best set of ingredients for long term lip enhancement. This ingredient is now available in Elizabeth Arden’s Plump Perfect Lipstick.
With Sodium Hylauronate, you get two results – there’s the short term when your lips get plumped for a couple of hours, but there’s also the long term – your lips will grow bigger over time as the skin stretches more.
For an even more long-lasting plump, when you use a product containing Maxi-Lip at least three times a day for 28 days, studies show your lips will become plumper longer term because it stimulates collagen growth. Obviously, if you completely stop using it after that, they will gradually go back to their normal size because it doesn’t change your DNA, and that’s what tells your body how plump your lips should normally be. But if you stop using fillers, your lips would eventually go back to their normal size anyway, so in my view the plumping lip glosses are preferable because they’re cheaper and you’re in control of them.
Where’s the evidence for these plumpers?
As a science teacher, I think evidence is pretty important. Luckily, patents can’t be awarded without evidence, so while there’s not much about plumpers in the published scientific literature, there’s plenty of evidence for plumping that’s been submitted to the patent office! A patent is given for a new invention (including a cosmetic formula) that does what it claims to do, when an application is filed. All applications have to be made public. This means some of the patent applications are a little vague but it’s easy to see which plumpers have been tested and shown to work, because patents aren’t issued for things that don’t work. Here’s some of the scientific evidence relating to lip plumping (click the links to read original reports): Use of peptides (e.g. Maxi-Lip) for lip plumping using the collagen stimulation method. (L’Oreal parent company). Patent for immediate effect lip plumper, 2007 (Arbonne parent company). Patent for a temporary lip plumping gloss (one that plumps while product is applied) (JAFRA parent company). A patent for a lip balm containing sodium hyaluronate (aka hyaluronic acid. This also contains other ingredients) which will plump lips and stimulate collagen production in the area for anti-ageing purposes (Supersmile parent company). This patent clearly states: “Hyaluronic acid maintains tissue hydration and helps retain water within the skin tissue…The swelling of the sodium hyaluronate particles increase the volume of the lip tissue, reducing wrinkles and plumping the lips.” The first patent that was filed that applies to wonder plumping ingredient Maxi-Lip (Sederma Parent Company). The patent that explains how Maxi-Lip can stimulate collagen production by using a very specific newly-invented (by Sederma) peptide chain to plump. The most recent patent that was filed that relates to Maxi-Lip’s method of action (this isn’t the patent for Maxi-Lip, which is above, this is a patent that protects the method of action) (Sederma Parent Company).
As you can see there’s quite a body of evidence that, while it’s not easy to find, definitely exists and does show that some lip plumping serums, glosses and lipsticks really do work, if you choose the right one. As these patents show, sodium hyaluronate and Maxi-Lip are the two best plumping ingredients for long term lip plumping effects.
Future ingredients to look out for: This patent has very recently been granted to use bee venom in a lip plumper, and the evidence is looking pretty exciting.
The spring and summer make up trends for 2016 are a mixed bag – I am in the middle of editing a video for my Youtube channel where I found the 4 worst looks and tried them out on camera. Today, however, I wanted to do a quick review of the best 6 trends in beauty and make-up that are worth knowing about:
1. Long eyelashes. While the no-make-up-make-up is still pretty big, long lashes are definitely the next big thing in beauty. Whether they’re on-set or out getting papped, celebs seem to all have either lash extensions or lash growth serums, giving them long, luscious lashes. This trend is one of my favourites because it’s so easy to recreate at home, you literally just need to buy a good lash growth serum such as Revitalash and in 4-6 weeks you can have those telescopic lashes when you put your mascara on. I love how feminine it is, and it really makes the eyes look more romantic, softening your features. If you have a longer face like me, long eyelashes really help to break up the face without having to have a brow drawn in with a sharpie, and whether I’m feeling masculine or feminine, I think long lashes ALWAYS look good regardless of gender.
2. Natural eyebrows (or, less HD brows): FINALLY!!! The HD brow seems to be waning in popularity and I suspect that, like silver hair, it’s going to die a death this year, having become the domain of scruffy people everywhere. The death of the HD brow is to be celebrated, opening the door to feminine, shapely brows (but not over plucked). I am particularly excited that brow colours are tending towards natural shades again – last year it seemed like, no matter what your hair colour, everyone wore black eyebrows! That was not a good look and I didn’t like it. Eyebrows seem to be getting further apart as well, with the almost-touching-each-other nearly-a-monobrow look of the HD brow being another feature that anyone trendy is going to leave back in the grody dark ages of 2015. On catwalks, one surprising brow trend I noticed a couple of times was the curved brow, that rounded look that hasn’t been seen in several decades. It did look good on the models I saw, but check it suits your face shape by drawing it in with an eye pencil before you commit to getting your brows reshaped. Personally I’m thinking of going for a Marilyn Monroe brow this year after experimenting with it in one of my videos last year.
3. Long flat straight noses: Yes this IS a makeup trend. Before you go calling up the plastic surgeon, go to your local makeup counter and ask them to show you how to shape your nose using highlighter and contour powder. You may be surprised at the results. The downside is that if you have a crooked nose like I do, you can’t switch between a straight or curved nose by using make-up, but I have found a video on Youtube (not one of mine) where this lady shows you how to allegedly straighten your nose using nose exercises. I’ve tried them out for a couple of days and I’ll let you know how they turn out. I didn’t really have a picture for this but they’re everywhere:
4. Freckles: Yup, they’re in again. My suggestion with this one is only go for freckles if you’ve got very clear skin, otherwise (like last time this trend came around) you’ll be walking round looking like you’ve got terrible acne. Any 3D spots on your forehead, chin or cheeks, and faux-freckles are a total no-no.
5. Color-pop lips: If there’s not a lot going on in the eyeshadow department, the lips are the big deal this year. Celine had off-red lips on the runway and Miu Miu had two-tone blue and berry lips (see picture). The theme here seems to be to go for “natural” (or “nude”) eyes and unnatural, experimental lipcolours, which is the complete opposite of the predominant nude-lip trend we’ve been seeing for the past few years. In particular, red lipstick is getting much bigger this year. Blending 2-3 colours (like you usually would for eyeshadow) to create shape and perfection, seems to be on the verge of becoming a trend, but I think we will be waiting until Autumn/Winter for it to really take off because it’s still on the horizon at the moment.
6. Coloured Contact Lenses: OMG I’m so excited that these have started making their way onto the runway, although no-one seems to have noticed them yet. I spotted them on this MAC girl styled by Lucia Pieroni. Brown contacts definitely suit a lot more people than the garish and unnatural blue and green ones that are also available. I can’t wait for contact lens companies to respond to the increasing popularity by designing more realistic contact lenses. Perhaps it won’t be too long before coloured contact lenses become as acceptable as hair extensions and wigs.
So those are the top 6 make-up trends of Spring/Summer 2016, what do you think? Have you tried any of these yet? Would you experiment with coloured contacts?
With so many different types of sunscreen on the market today, it can be hard to know which type is best for sun protection. And that’s if you don’t even try to contemplate what Sun Protection Factor (SPF) you need to protect yourself from skin cancer and other damage from ultraviolet rays such as premature ageing. Twenty years ago, many people used to view sunscreen as optional. Thirty years before that, sunscreen had barely been invented and everyone thought SPF 2 (yeah, you read it right) was the biggest thing ever. These days, we’ve all been terrified into knowing better, and advances in SPF technology means we can all afford to protect ourselves from UV sun damage. Skin cancer is the ninth most common cancer in Europe (there are actually three main types of skin cancer, but they put them together for this statistic), and malignant melanoma (the really bad one) is the 19th most common cancer worldwide. While that doesn’t seem like a lot, these figures are rising quickly, because our parents and grandparents (and so on) trashed the O-Zone layer that used to reflect many more of the harmful UV rays back out into space. So the meek inherit the Earth – but only after the pushy have wrecked it for everyone. Thanks, gramps. Isn’t it handy that they invented sunscreen around the same time we really needed it?
More importantly, no statistic is ever going to show whether skin cancer will happen to you or not. Since sunscreen is really good at preventing premature ageing, and protects you from ultraviolet rays, why risk it at all? Here’s the types of sunscreen and their pro’s and con’s:
Sun Block: Typical range: Factor 50 and over.
This is the gloopy stuff that looks like emulsion paint when you put it on your skin. It is favoured by very pasty looking people (the correlation is probably because it makes you look whiter) and is renowned for being able to block EVERYTHING. But is that necessarily a good thing?
According to Model Beauty Secrets, you should be using factor 50 and over. My aunt, a nurse practitioner (no, Americans, it’s not like being a nurse, it’s like being a doctor with less pay), also recommends factor 50+ during summer months.
But there was that rumour last year about whether high-factor sun block caused Vitamin D deficiency. I’ve written an article all about Vitamin D that’s very scientific and much more comprehensive than anything I’ve seen to support this theory, and here’s what I think: If you don’t get Vitamin D from your diet, for example if you are vegan, then you need to get it from somewhere. HOWEVER, if you don’t get the cholesterol (as vegans don’t), going unprotected in the sun is useless because your body won’t have any raw materials to turn into Vitamin D! I’m glad to see this myth getting shelved again for the time being, but I do think our fear of cancer and ageing is starting to spoil the fun of going out on a sunny day – with OR without sunscreen.
My biggest gripe with high-factor sun block is that it suffocates my skin, overloads it with crap, and makes me break out in horrible spots. That can’t be good for you either, and I can’t see models walking round with white skin and red spots all over to combat fear of ageing – surely ageing skin is just as bad as red breakout spots! It’s a trade off, though – if you burn easily and have very fair skin, or if you’re a child, use sun block. Otherwise, go for something lighter and re-apply regularly.
Tanning Oil (with SPF): Typical range: Factor 2-15
This is a light SPF for people who wish to tan in the sun. I’ll be honest, I’ve been using this stuff during the thirty degree heat wave we’ve been having in the UK this week (I use the factor 15). I’m not convinced it’s actually making me tan any quicker than normal sunscreen, but it definitely feels nicer on my skin, is quicker and easier to apply, and leaves me feeling non-sticky, which are all a good thing.
The cons are if you have greasy skin this might not be for you (I have normal skin, bordering on very slightly dry), and obviously it’s not going to be great for sitting around the house in your best dress – you might get oil stains. But for its intended purpose – tanning – it’s the best sun protection and skincare you can get, as it doesn’t leave your skin feeling overloaded.
Face Sun Cream: Typical range: Factor 20-50
This is a special type of sun cream that is made for the more delicate skin on your face. After all, you wouldn’t use body lotion on your face, so why use body sun cream on it? The pros are that it’s usually formulated to be non-greasy, non-shiny and some of them are even gels that are supposed to be more hydrating (for my normal skin I disagree and feel drier after using a gel for some reason). The downsides are that hardly any shops actually stock it, and that it can cost the same for a tiny tube as it costs for a whole big bottle of the body sun cream. Avon does some good ones but they can be very expensive so keep an eye out for special offers.
Facial Moisturisers with Sun Protection: Typical range: Factor 10-20
These are usually daily moisturisers such as Olay that have a small amount of sunscreen in them. The advantage is that you don’t need a separate cream for sunny days, but the disadvantages are that you probably won’t re-apply it during the day, and that means that the sun will burn through it as the day goes on. Factor 15 needs to be reapplied every 20-30 minutes in direct sun exposure or on a cloudy day, twice during the day (source here) and most people put their face cream on and forget about it. This leads to premature ageing, so you’re better off going barefaced and suncreamed in summer or on sunny days (remember you can even burn while skiing, so cream up whatever time of year that the sun is out) so that you can re-apply without removing all your makeup. Additionally, it’s only really useful if it’s factor 15 and above, as I discussed earlier, and annoyingly they don’t seem to do an SPF 50 day cream worth a damn.
Body Sun Cream: Typical range: Factor 15-30
This is the best sun protection for most people. It isn’t too cloggy and isn’t too lax on the protection, and it goes well under normal clothes without causing grease stains or other problems. The advantages are that it’s cheap and easy to come by, and that it usually comes in a good sized bottle so you don’t need to worry about whether you have enough to keep reapplying. The disadvantages are that it won’t protect you enough if you’re pale or a toddler, and that it can cause you to break out if you use it on your face.
What about UVA and UVB?
Most sun creams nowadays protect against both UVA and UVB. UVA can age us and UVB can burn us, so finding a sunscreen that protects against both is important. The SPF on the bottle usually refers JUST to UVB, which prevents burning, but does nothing to stop premature ageing (just to make it more complicated)! To find out the UVA rating, there is now a labelling requirement that if it says “UVA” on the label, a sunscreen has to protect you against 1/3 of the amount of UVA of the SPF. For example, if your sunscreen was SPF30, with a UVA sticker on the bottle, it would have a UVA SPF of at least 10. If there’s no UVA logo, there is no obligation to protect you from UVA. To make it more complicated, there’s also UVC, but apparently that still gets stopped by what’s left of the O-zone layer.
General Sunscreen Tips:
The bottle needs to be kept in a cool place: This is so the suncream doesn’t degrade from the heat – yep, suncream has to be kept out of the sun. The fridge is good if you’re in a super-hot country like Greece or Tunisia, but in the UK it should usually be fine in a cupboard, drawer or shelf in your house.
Don’t forget the lips! Your lips are unable to produce melanin to protect themselves from the sun so they need all the help they can get – an SPF 20+ lip balm is perfect for men and women alike.
Don’t forget your scalp either! You can either spray suncream onto it directly or wear a hat, but don’t get sunburn on your scalp, I have it on high authority that it’s a terrible place to get it! The hat is the better option if you need to protect your hair as well. Baldies and people with a shaved head should use a high SPF because most of the sun will catch your head.
Follow the airport’s rules on what size bottles you can take with you: It’s really embarrassing to be made to throw away all those suncreams and after suns when you get to airport security, and it’s a surefire way to annoy the other passengers who followed the rules (yes, the rules are really dumb, but you can’t change ’em, if you don’t like them, travel overland like I do most of the time).
Reapply it regularly: Often if you touch your skin (e.g. your arm) and it feels dry (like it doesn’t have any moisturiser/suncream on) then you need to reapply. If you can’t tell, then reapply to be safe.
Which sunscreen are you using during this heatwave? Let me know in the comments!