I’ve been trying a few different face creams recently and two have stood out as phenomenal. I don’t use the term “Holy Grail” usually, because I think it’s a bit of an exaggeration about most things, but when it comes to skincare, ROC Retinol Correxion Sensitive Night Cream and Olay Three-Point Regenerist day cream are now my Holy Grail products.
I bought ROC retinol correxion sensitive night cream from Amazon back in December and I’ve been using it ever since. It’s been a great addition to my usual skincare routine!
How the box says to use it: The instructions on the back say to use ROC retinol correxion at night, going two nights with cream then taking a break for two nights before using it for two more nights, and so on, until your skin gets used to it, then to use it nightly.
How I use it: I’ve been using it two nights on, two nights off for the last 6-8 weeks and I don’t feel ready to use it every night yet. Why? Because it’s effective! It’s working perfectly for me so why go overboard?
The immediate effect: When I first used this on my skin, it seemed to enlarge my pores and make my whole face look dry for about two days, then it completely settled down again and now my skin looks better than ever.
The long term effect: After about three uses, my skin got used to it and I found it seemed to be re-drawing my skin (I honestly don’t know what the word is, it was like an IRL photoshop airbrush) smoothing over all my fine lines and making my skin look more vital. It’s been completely amazing! It contains retinol which is drying to the skin so make sure to use a good day cream and maybe even face oil as well!
Negatives: Retinol increases your skin’s sensitivity to UV light, so make sure to use a sunscreen during the day when you use ROC retinol correxion night cream at night. I try to always use SPF-30 or above anyway, so it’s another reason to wear sunscreen. Also this stuff does nothing against blue circles, but that’s fine because the Olay Regenerist 3 Point day cream does.
The scientific bit: It contains Retinol which is a form of vitamin A that stimulates collagen production in the skin.
The packaging: It comes in a box with a clear window so you can see the tube of cream. Inside, there’s a plastic tray to hold the cream in place. I’d like to know if the packaging is recyclable or not.
Today it’s Korean beauty vs Japanese beauty, and I’m testing out how Korean brand Clio’s Water Me Please BB cream stands up against Japanese brand SANA’s Keana Pate Pore Putty BB Pact (which I also reviewed here).
Please bear in mind I am currently ill having contracted Fresher’s Flu at university this weekend, and my face got severely weather battered by going sailing today as well, and it’s past my bedtime but I’m trying hard to make time for you guys today (I’m scheduling it so you can read at a more friendly time of day); so that’s three good reasons why my eyes are so red and puffy!! That makes this the perfect day to test these two products though, because there’s no point testing out foundations on a good skin day when I look great anyway!
The Clio Water Me Please gave a much more natural look with less coverage than the SANA Pore Putty. I think I would use this one when I wanted something lightweight that didn’t look like I was wearing makeup. My boyfriend couldn’t actually tell I was wearing makeup.
White Cast / Grey Cast:
The Clio Water Me Please BB Cream has been criticized by some beauty bloggers for giving a grey cast, but when I applied it today with a beauty blender (actually, a cheap Chinese dupe; my budget doesn’t currently stretch to an expensive make-up sponge), it did not give a grey cast. In fact, its base tones blended perfectly with my natural face color (NC15-20). The SANA Pore Putty SPF40 PA+++ gave a slight white cast in the mirror but it’s not noticeable in the photos for some reason.
Did they Cause Breakouts?
The Clio Water Me Please BB Cream did not cause any breakouts at all, and never has done, not even the time when I first used it and smeared WAY too much on my face (seriously, dab it on lightly). It’s uber skin friendly.
The SANA Pore Putty has left my skin with very minor breakouts every time I’ve used it, so after using it several times I can honestly say I think it’s the Pore Putty doing it. However, while my skin is usually normal, occasionally it goes on a spree of being sensitive and gets upset at certain products. Just like it occasionally goes dry or oily. Weird, huh? I think it’s down to what I eat throwing my skin out of balance sometimes, but I can’t prove it.
I found that the Clio Water Me Please BB Cream blended exceptionally well on my face (NC15-20) and on the back of my hand (about 2 shades darker). It was practically invisible, which is fabulous for a product with SPF-30 and PA++. The SANA Pore Putty didn’t blend so well, and sort of sits on top of my skin, but it’s only as bad as my L’Oreal True Match, which is to say you can hardly tell.
I don’t have any permanent lines to find out if either product settled in them, so I’m only talking about expression lines here. The SANA Pore Putty made those expression lines more obvious, which made me look older when I smiled or frowned. The SANA Pore Putty BB Pact definitely creased more in the under-eye area, making that area look more dry, but the Clio Water Me Please BB cream left a more uneven surface, especially around the (ever-growing) pores either side of my nose. The SANA Pore Putty BB Pact worked to minimize these pores, even if the make-up itself was more obvious. I will add that a good primer will get rid of more of this issue, regardless of which BB you use.
The SANA Pore Putty was just much better at covering up red areas, though. In the three photos, you can see the line down my forehead where the SANA Pore Putty is covering up all the redness I’ve currently got from being ill, and the Clio Water Me Please BB cream isn’t covering that up. Definitely if you have clear skin the Clio Water Me Please is a much better choice, but if you have things to cover up, SANA Pore Putty is better.
The SANA Pore Putty BB Pact is SPF40 (or possibly 35; they keep changing it), ten whole SPFs more than the Clio Water Me Please BB Cream. More importantly, Pore Putty is PA+++ and Clio Water Me Please is PA++, meaning Pore Putty offers 33% better protection from harmful ageing UVA rays than Clio Water Me Please.
In general, the Clio Water Me Please BB SPF 30 PA++ is a very good BB cream, good value for money at $11 a tube, and I think it’s got a lot more advantages. However, if you are looking to minimize the appearance of pores, or cover up redness, the SANA Pore Putty BB Pact SPF 40 PA+++ really comes into its own and does those jobs very well. It also has the better sun protection, which is a consideration if you don’t use separate sunscreen year-round. Neither of these BB products are very expensive compared to some other products, and that also counts in their favor. If I had to just use one on an average (non-sunny) day, however, I would reach for the Clio Water Me Please BB Cream.
Today I want to talk about the Sana Keana Pore Putty BB Pact SPF40 PA+++ because it arrived this morning from Japan!! So excited to finally review Japanese cosmetics!
I’ve been totally psyched to try Japanese make up ever since my Korean Clio Water Me Please BB Cream turned up a couple of weeks ago. I wanted to know how the two products would compare but for the time being, this is my first impressions of the Sana Keana Pore Putty BB Pact.
There appear to be 2 different ones with different SPFs. I got the shade 01 (light) in SPF40 PA+++ (PA+++ means high protection against ageing UVA rays).
This is what it looked like in its packaging:
This is what it looked like out of the box:
I adored the packaging of the Pore Putty sooo much! It’s absolutely delightful. Not as Kawaii as some of the other stuff from Japan but more sophisticated, yet still cutesy. At first I thought there was no mirror, which was disappointing, but then when I lifted the top compartment, surprise! It turned out the product – and the mirror – were both underneath the area for the sponge.
Application wise, it was probably the easiest thing I’ve ever applied and I only needed a tiny amount of product to cover all of my face. I would say it’s like a hybrid between a BB cream and a foundation. I swatched it on my arm before I used it on my face:
Next I put the Pore Putty BB Pact cream on one side of my face to compare it to nothing on the other side:
This was so much better than the Avon Cream to Powder foundation that came in similar packaging and looked virtually identical – this Pore Putty is the real deal and I can see myself using it as a daily wear product! I like that it evened out my skin tone, and I thought it was a good match for my winter/spring skin tone but a teensy bit pale for my summer skin colour, which was a shame. I wish I’d got the darker shade now since it’s May (it comes in 01 Fair and 02 Natural and I chose 01 Fair after much consideration). I’m only an NC20 but I’d have to be a teensy bit paler for the fair coloured Pore Putty to blend seamlessly. As it is, it has blended nicely, just made me look a bit paler than I’m used to. I’ll take that though because it goes on so smoothly. Undertones were nice, I can’t make out if they were pink or yellow but whatever, it made my skin look like it had a lit-from-within sort of glow! I like that and it’s something I don’t often find with foundations. I did still put some blusher on when I finished my make up just to try and bring my face colour more in line with the rest of me!!
Overall, I really liked this product, application was easy and the coverage was medium, it didn’t make my pores/lines worse (which most foundations do, even with a primer), in fact, the opposite happened – it actually minimized the two fine lines either side of my mouth and the pores around my nose a lot more than anything else I’ve used. I didn’t use it with moisturizer or primer (my usual routine) and it came out better than most foundations that I use *with* primer so I reckon it would look flawless if I put it on over primer.
This was the finished look:
I would say this is the best result I’ve had with a foundation for years! If I was going away to a festival or something, I would feel comfortable just taking this and not taking primer!!! I never thought I would say that about a product, it’s just so moisturising without being greasy or silicone-y at all!
It’s also one of the few Asian beauty brands actually available in the UK.
Buy it here in the US or buy it here in the UK (takes you to Amazon because I’m an affiliate). Delivery took about 25 days because mine was posted from Japan. Different suppliers will ship from different locations natch.
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.
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!