Life & Culture

Here comes the sun — it’s time to screen

Sun protection used to be thick and chalky but now new brands are good for us and the planet


Woman shopping in NYC and walking on the street

I’m heading to New York in a few weeks. Preparation has included watching Joan Miklin Silver’s film Hester Street — starring Carol Kane as a Jewish émigré from Russia, living with her more assimilated husband on Manhattan’s Lower East Side (it’s on YouTube if you haven’t seen it). Another way I’ve been gearing up for the trip is to stock up on sunblock. I’ve never been to The Big Apple in the summer before, but apparently the heat is brutal, something which Andrew Goetz — Upper West Sider, all-round mensch and co-founder of cult New York beauty brand Malin + Goetz – personally assured me of at the launch of his new SPF 30 Sunscreen High Protection (£32). This stuff is worlds away from the chalky, heavy sunscreens of old — sinking into the skin without leaving a trace, it contains physical sun filter zinc oxide, as well as skin-replenishing antioxidants niacinamide and Vitamin E.
Sunscreen only protects for roughly two hours (less if you go swimming), so don’t forget to reapply throughout the day. Pixi Sun Mist (£18) has long been a favourite of mine — easy to spritz on, it contains calming camomile and hydrating aloe vera to soothe a sweltering red complexion. Another great brand I’ve recently discovered is LifeJacket Skin Protection, developed specifically for men. YouGov research found that 31 per cent of men don’t apply sunscreen on holiday compared to 15 per cent of women. LifeJacket sunscreens are suitably bloke-friendly, being fragrance-free with a gel texture (from £14) that is quicker to apply than creams and won’t get stuck in body hair.
When it comes to sunblock, broad-spectrum is a no brainer, protecting against UVA and UVB rays, and most sunscreens are formulated as such — but check for the “broad-spectrum” label to make doubly sure. Blue light (or high energy visible light / HEVL) has recently popped up on the radar as another culprit. Previously thought to emanate from computer and phone screens, new research from Avène has shown that 99 per cent comes from the sun. Its known effects are said to include depletion of collagen and elastin, as well as pigmentation — while others believe it worsens the effects of UVA exposure. As a result, many suncare brands are creating new products and technology to combat its effects. Avène have just launched a range with their newly-developed TriAsorB filter, which they claim is the only sun filter to protect against HEVL; while UltraSun incorporates Ectoin and GSP-T in its formulas, to mitigate the blue light’s damaging effects.
Reef-friendly sunscreens are another good option. With an estimated 6,000 tons of sunscreen washing into coral reefs each year, the US states of Hawaii and Florida have now banned the sale of sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate, two chemicals thought to harm aquatic life. Hence suncare brands are starting to develop more sustainable formulas —like Tropic Skincare’s award-winning Great Barrier Sun Lotion (£28), which contains a sustainable sun filter and being made in the UK, has a low carbon footprint. (It also smells like a vanilla ice cream if that’s your thing.)

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