Sunbathing, Sun damage & Sunblocks. It’s all in the S’s

“Oh there’s no sun today so I don’t need sunblock,” exclaimed one bronzed glamour-puss 10 years ago. Fast forward to present day and that former uber hot supple skinned beauty is now a roadmap to crinkleville. Am I harsh? I think so.

I’m part Malaysian so  my skin is prone to tanning, and as a young girl, I too, was seduced by the ideals of  a coppertone tan. There are photos of me where I was the colour of soot. (Definitely not the coppertone bronze.) All you could  see were the whites of my eyes and the pre-caffeinated pearlie whites when I smiled for the camera.  I was young and this was pre-depletion of the o-zone layer. My mother, who has a porcelain perfect Shanghainese complexion, would taunt me for hours on end, “sit in the shade, wear a hat, don’t burn, you’re going to age very fast.” Like all of us I thought she was old-fashioned and , well, bonkers. Who thinks of ageing when you are in your prime!

Fast forward fifteen years, while on holiday in Phuket  I was sitting by the pool, and I caught a glimpse of myself in the window. I had to do a double take of my reflection. I didn’t recognise who I saw.  In front of me stood a woman with a monstrously large golf visor and a long-sleeved rash guard, with streaks of white sunblock across her face. I had become one of those women who I used to shake my head at, thinking that they were neurotic and somewhat paranoid.

I quickly glanced around to see if anyone was looking, and in hindsight I really shouldn’t have bothered. There was not a chance anyone was looking my way in my get up! I made a speedy escape to my room, where I found my slinkiest Tabla Kaftan(best resort wear by uber designer Tania Mohan http://www.tabla.hk) , and toiled with my problem of a hat. A visor would definitely not work, while it would protect my face, it made me look as if I had retired to golfing and was no longer interested in being a youthful sunbathing sun goddess. (This may have been true but I definitely did not want the visor to give away my secret.) I tried hard and fast and found my style solution in a well-appointed Melissa Odabash straw hat I bought at the boutique!

Paying homage to chic resort-wear I proudly ventured back to the pool. With the sun glaring down on me, my pulse quickened and all I could hear were the words of my mother, “sit in the shade, wear a hat, you don’t want to burn, and you will thank me when you’re older.” Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that I would listen to this “nonsense”, but here I was,  wondering if my SPF 100 for my face and SPF 70 for my body was enough, and how on earth was I going to find shade close to the pool.

Obviously I made amends with my fashion faux pas, and I have somehow managed to maintain a teeny weeny bit of elasticity in my face. I don’t have porcelain skin, and that’s not my goal. My aim is to have a smooth sun damage free complexion, and to protect myself from skin cancer. I’m not  going to delve into the ins and outs of skin cancer risks etc. Instead, I want to yell out to all of you who do not use sun protection (even on a cloudy day) that if you don’t protect your skin, no one else will, and while we slather block on our kids, we have to do the same.  Whether its raining hard,  the sky is pitch black, or you are staying at home all day long. Wear your sunblock. Protect your face!

Please read the link below:

UVA Radiation: A Danger Outdoors and Indoors – SkinCancer.org.

So which sunblock do I use? I’ve tried many and it’s not always the most expensive ones that work. For me, I found that Spectraban 60, which is available at all Watsons and Mannings in Hong kong, is the sheerest and lightest (also dermatologist recommended). I apply it after my moisturiser and on days that I don’t want to wear makeup it acts as a base. It doesn’t leave that thick white streak across your face, and most importantly is non-comodegenic.

When I go on holidays or have days boating in Hong Kong however, I always try to opt for something with a little higher SPF (I know I know, anything above 15 is not stronger, it just protects for a longer period.) I opt for Bioderma’s Photoderm Max SPF 100.

It is an excellent sun block, but for my skin, which tends to be a little on the oily side, prolonged use can lead to clogged pores. I try to get around this problem by keeping it on for no more than 4 hours at a time. It’s worked for me so far.

At the higher end there is a fantastic option from Clé de Peau.  I was recently invited to beauty seminar for the launch of Clé de Peau Beaute’s SPF 50 UV protection cream. They tested my skin against that horrendous magnifying machine that looks for the triangles in the skin. Apparently the more you have, the more hydrated and youthful your skin is. Thankfully my dermis is riddled with triangles! Phew…

The texture of this cream is light, absorbs quickly into the skin and smells fantastic. I’ve used it under make-up and it works wonders. It dries and leaves your face matte.  I highly recommend this one if you are looking for a high-end option. Supposedly it also contains thyme and tumeric which prevent wrinkles! Bonus!

So my friends, please take heed. Sunblock sunblock sunblock. Tell me which one you use?

4 thoughts on “Sunbathing, Sun damage & Sunblocks. It’s all in the S’s

  1. Where did you find that photo of the woman on the beach?? So scary!

    I only started using sunblock religiously in my mid-thirties and definitely wish I’d been more diligent about it sooner… For day to day in the city, I use Dr. Jart BB cream (Most Moist type) or Becca tinted moisturizer and both are SPF 25. I’m a bit lazy so I like being able to get some coverage to even out my skin tone as well as protect my skin from the sun. Now that we’re heading into summer, I’m going to try out the Spectraband sunblock you recommended!

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