A Man’s Guide To Wearing SPF
Mr Ray Winstone in Sexy Beast (2000). Photograph by 20th Century Fox/Photofest
I have a confession. I am an enthusiastic user of beauty and grooming products, but I am a reluctant and part-time user when it comes to SPF. An extra step in my skincare routine with no immediate or noticeable pay off? Meh. Yet I know this is a grave mistake and, unless I want to sport a crepe de chine look in my later years, I need to get my act together and start on the SPF before it’s too late.
For the uninitiated, a quick sun-damage crib sheet: the sun emits two kinds of rays, which do different things. In short, UVA rays will prematurely age your skin and can lead to skin cancer and UVB rays will burn. “These rays penetrate clouds, so are present and damaging the skin when it’s not sunny,” says Ms Julia Stewart, head of education for Shiseido. “They also penetrate glass, so it’s important to apply SPF even when working indoors.”
The protection comes in two forms: chemical and mineral. “Chemical sunscreens tend to be the most commonly used and have a lighter texture that’s absorbed easily into the skin, while mineral sunscreens tend to last longer in the sun, but can be heavier in texture and can leave a whitish cast on the skin,” says Dr Barbara Sturm, founder of the eponymous brand. Which type you use is a matter of personal preference, but if you have sensitive skin, a mineral option might be a better bet.
And don’t think you’re off the hook if you have skin that tends not to burn. Darker skins need sun protection, too. “Sun protection should be used daily, regardless of skin tone,” says Stewart. “While deeper skin tones have higher levels of melanin, and therefore more natural sun protection, UV rays can still cause damage to the skin, from premature ageing, pigmentation, a compromised barrier function and skin cancer.”
Below you’ll find everything you need to ensure safe sun time in 2021. After the year we’ve just been through, sun damage is the last thing we need.
This one’s for the time poor and grooming averse. Moisturising products that contain inbuilt SPF (Stewart recommends a broad-spectrum SPF that helps to block out UVA and UVB rays) can cut your skincare routine in half. A solid all-rounder such as Shiseido’s Benefiance Wrinkle Smoothing Day Cream SPF25 boasts anti-wrinkle properties and is a great way to boost your skin’s hydration levels while offering some UV protection. Or you could reach for Dr. Barbara Sturm Sun Drops SPF50, which work as a lightweight serum that won’t leave your face grey, even on darker skin tones. Dr Sturm recommends applying the drops after moisturising, or mixing them with your moisturiser.
If you’re spending time outdoors, you should use at least factor 30. “Apply sun care at least 30 minutes before sun exposure,” says Stewart. This is so it has time to dry down and form a uniform layer of protection on your skin. “And reapply approximately every two hours, even more if you’re swimming or working out.” Our picks would be Shiseido Clearstick UV Protector SPF50+, which is invisible, even on darker skin tones, and is an easy way to top up throughout the day, and the Daily Face Protect SPF50 by The Grey Men’s Skincare, a great vegan option that contains moisturising hyaluronic acid.
A tinted moisturiser, BB cream or concealer is a good place to start if you want to give your complexion a healthy glow and disguise the tell-tale signs of over-indulgence or lack of sleep. These multitasking products even out skin tone while keeping skin moisturised and offering a bit of sun protection. Try the Lab Series BB Tinted Moisturizer SPF35 or Perricone MD’s No Makeup Concealer Broad Spectrum SPF20 for targeted colour correction, especially around the eyes. For complete sun protection, we recommend topping up with a dedicated SPF. “SPF products should be applied as the final step of skincare,” says Stewart. “But if you’re wearing a primer or foundation, this can be applied over an SPF product.”
Face and body mist
Mists lead the charge when it comes to ease of application. Fuss-free and mess-free, they require little drying time (we’re talking 15 minutes or so, enough to get set up by the pool), leave no grey streaks and are perfect for holidays. Soleil Toujours’ organic range of sun protection contains EcoSun Complex, the brand’s patented formula that contains vitamins C and E and red algae, which helps to protect from harmful UV rays. We’ll be packing the Organic Sheer Sunscreen Mist SPF50 and Organic Extrème Face and Scalp sunscreen SPF50 in our suitcases this summer.
Don’t forget your lips
We often neglect our lips when it comes to sun protection, but they can burn too. Try Aesop’s Protective Lip Balm SPF30, which is enriched with botanical oils to soothe sore lips and offers both UVA and UVB protection, or the Salt & Stone Lip Balm SPF30, which is made from sustainably sourced beeswax in California and contains almond and argan oil to nourish dry lips.