Goodness, I’m so proud of us! We’ve cleansed, we’ve exfoliated, we’ve moisturised; we’ve figured out what the hell serums are for and why eye cream is a real thing.
Now for the top layer! When your skin is in great shape because you’re taking proper care of it, the top layer is basically just about protecting it from the sun, and adding a teeny bit of “help” in the makeup department if you’re so inclined.
First up, sunscreen. As I’ve said before, there is no point putting effort into a skincare routine if you’re not going to protect your skin from the sun. Sun damage will age your skin faster than anything else, and all of the creams and potions in the world can’t fix that. You must wear sunscreen on your face, no matter what the weather, and no matter how long you’re actually going to be spending outside. Even ducking out of the office for a sandwich can expose you to sun damage if you’re not wearing sunscreen. Listen to Aunty LML and just do it, okay?
There are a few different options for sun protection. First off is a chemical sunscreen, which works by absorbing or “scattering” the UV Ray’s before they can get to your skin. To make sure a chemical sunscreen works properly and is not interfered with by other products, you should apply it directly to clean skin BEFORE your serum, moisturiser, etc. I know this sounds weird, but it’s true. Of course, putting your fancy expensive serum over the sunscreen will prevent the serum from penetrating properly and doing its job, which is why it’s usually a good idea to apply serums at night, before you go to bed. Chemical sunscreen is the best option to use if you’re going to be playing sport or swimming, because chemical suncreens can be made to be water-resistant. If you’re looking for a good chemical suncsreen that won’t irritate your skin, try Dermalogica’s Solar Defence Booster, which is SPF50 when applied directly to clean skin, but can also be mixed in with your moisturiser to suddenly render it an SPF moituriser! Clever or what?
Your second sunscreen option is a physical sunscreen, which physically blocks the sun from getting to your skin with a layer of zinc oxide or titanium dioxide (or sometimes both.) Physical sunscreen goes on top of your moisturiser and under your makeup, if you’re choosing to wear any. A lot of people (particularly those who grew up in Australia!) get freaked out by the word “zinc”, because it brings back memories of smearing gluggy fluorescent stuff over your nose at the beach. However, zinc has come a long way since those days, I promise. The zinc that is used in good sunscreens these days is micronized, which is a fancy word for “won’t cover your skin in white powder.” It shouldn’t be visible or cause irritation to your skin, and it really is a very effective sun protection option. In fact, if you have sensitive skin, it is actually far less likely to be irritated by physical than chemical sunscreen. The other benefit of physical sunscreen is that it generally gives you a broader spectrum of protection than chemical options. If you’re thinking “Sold!” then give the Coola Face SPF30 Cucumber Matte Finish a try.
There is also a sneaky third option, which combines the sunscreen-and-makeup part of your routine, and this is to use a BB Cream with high SPF sunscreen in it. Genius!
What is a BB Cream, you ask?
BB originally stood for Blemish balm, and it was actually formulated by a German dermatologist, Dr Christine Schrammek, with the purpose of protecting her patients’ skin after surgery or strong facial peels. It was a mineral-based multi-tasker designed to both cover blemishes (scars, acne, pigmentation) and help them heal. Blemish balm then became enormously popular in Korea, its largest market until relatively recently.
Those early adopting Koreans were really onto something, as good BB creams are the champion products of multi-tasking. A good BB cream will provide light coverage to even out your skin tone, taking the place of a subtle foundation. It will also add hydration, nourishment, and even sun protection to your skin. Basically, a BB cream is like a tinted moisturiser that ate a whole bag of chocolate covered coffee beans and is running around getting EVERYTHING DONE. BB creams were (fiiiiiiinally) introduced to the Western market in 2012, where they quickly caught on, which is why you’re probably now seeing them everywhere. The BB now stands for Beauty Balm, and they are an excellent one-stop shop for the top layer of your skincare.
I use the Khiel’s Actively Correcting and Beautifying BB Cream, and I am so happy with it that I’m not even going to recommend alternative options. This is a lovely, lightweight product, and provides such great coverage that I use it instead of foundation 99% of the time. It eves out my skin tone and covers small blemishes while not making me look like I have a face full of makeup. It can be built up by adding layers if you have more obvious spots you’d like to cover. It also provides excellent titanium dioxide-based sun protection. It is advertised as having 30+ Sunscreen, but it’s actually 50+, which this redhead loves.
Australia’s cosmetics regulator, NICNAS, does not allow cosmetic products to advertise as anything higher than SPF30, so even though this is a 50+ product, when sold in Australia it comes with a little SPF30 sticker over the label. If you buy the exact same product in Europe, it has a 50+ label on it.
This is all very silly, but the main thing is that I am able to wear a lovely, light “makeup” with hardcore sunscreen in it for my poor, pale skin. It also contains a hefty hit of Vitamin C to actively work on correcting skin tone irregularities over time, instead of just covering them up, and it comes in three different shades. I find that the palest shade, labelled “Fair”, suits my skin tone perfectly.
To summarise the reams of information I’ve just thrown at you:
1. You need to wear sunscreen every day!
2. You can use a chemical one, which goes under your moisturiser and makeup, or a physical one, which goes over your moisturiser but under your makeup.
3. OR, you can choose a BB cream that provides both skin coverage and sun protection.
Next post, I’ll be talking about what to ask for at a beauty salon, and the “high-maintenance for low maintenance” way to ditch eye makeup all together.