Do I Really Need to Wear SPF?

ruth crilly model tips

Last week I popped to see Dr Marko Lens, who is fast becoming one of my favourite people in the world of beauty, science and…just in general. His sense of humour is even more bonkers than my own, yet he’s a leading expert in the field of skin cancer and completely and utterly captivating when he talks about skincare. I asked him a few – very basic – questions about suncare and SPF mainly because I wanted to clear up some of my own doubts, and the results of this little chat are below. In the video. Yes you have to watch it – if I had a secretary I’d get her to do a transcript, but I am unfortunately lacking in that particular department.

If you really can’t bear to watch me speak, then here’s the gist of the video:

1) Q: Do I have to wear SPF? A: YES if you’re exposed to the sun (even if it’s cloudy) for more than about fifteen minutes. [Those who rarely venture outside need not worry, obviously; those who work outdoors, are on holiday, on the beach or even sat on a long lunchbreak outside a cafe, should make sure they are protecting their skin.]

2) Q: What kind of SPF do I need? A: Always look for a suncare product that displays the UVA symbol in a circle or clearly states that it’s a Broad Spectrum formula. [You want to protect from both UVA and UVB rays (ones that age and ones that burn) so that you’re reducing your skin cancer risk and also preventing lasting, ageing sun damage.]

3) Q: Can’t I just rely on the SPF in my foundation? A: No, you won’t use enough. [You are supposed to use a whole teaspoonful for your head and neck, which you’ll see from the video is LOADS. With foundation, I probably use about a tenth of that amount. I will add, though, that I use a fair bit of product when I apply BB Cream or Tinted Moisturiser, so if this has both UVA and UVB protection and I’m really applying very generously, then so be it. On days when I’m only sporadically in the sun (most days) I rely on this top layer of makeup. If it’s any longer than sporadic exposure then I’ll use a dedicated suncare product. Note that suncare has to be reapplied frequently (every couple of hours) if you’re in the sun all day, so if you’re truly going to be outdoors for the day then remember that and carry out your beauty routine accordingly. There’s no point doing a full face of perfect makeup if you have to reapply your SPF two hours later – but then, if you’re on the beach or on holiday, do you really need a thick wad of foundation on?]

4) Q: Which factor do I use? A: more important to look for both UVA and UVB protection. However, if you’re very fair, redhead or sensitive to the sun then you need a higher SPF – SPF50. [I’m using SPF50 even though I don’t ever burn, really. I’m using the highest SPF I can to get rid of my dark spots! Usually I wear a well-formulated SPF15 or 30. I don’t think that you necessarily need higher than this if your skin is “ok” in the sun, ie, not overly fair or sensitive. In fact, I tend to find more problems with higher SPFs in terms of skin reactions and stinging in the eyes. Might just be me…]

spf face review

I’ve listed some of my most-used SPFs below, just for ideas. My most-used at the moment is the Lancome SPF50 (FeelUnique.com) – it gets on quite well with my skin and doesn’t feel too chalky or look too pasty-white. I also love the Dior one that I bought from FeelUnique a few weeks ago, though it is very scented. It smells like Caudalie’s Divine Oil!

Watch the video here if you’re on email, or scroll down for web users. For those wondering about Vitamin D with all of this SPF then I’ll put together a post soon – I take a supplement, because my levels are really low. Always have been, even when I wasn’t quite so religious (ahem) about applying SPF… I take this Vitamin D supplement here but please check with your doctor to see which strength you need if you want to get yourself sorted.

High Protection SPFs I like:
Lancome SPF50 GN Shield: http://tidd.ly/659d2604
Alpha-H Essential Moisturiser SPF50: http://goo.gl/mJf1c (use code CULTAH to get free delivery on this)
Garnier SPF50: http://tidd.ly/789dc47 (this one is great and only £6.50!)
Clarins UV Plus Protective Day Screen: http://tidd.ly/7522eaee

For Oily or acne-prone:
Anthelios: http://tidd.ly/8d7446fa
Dr Murad SPF15: http://tidd.ly/852bfa1 (this doesn’t say broad spectrum on tube but I’m 99% sure it is! Let me know if you have found otherwise..)
Avene Matte SPF50: http://tidd.ly/2646f7db

Some SPF15s I like:
Boots Protect and Perfect: http://tidd.ly/1978315d
Sisley Sunleya: http://rstyle.me/n/9sh6t6a6
Olay 7-in-1 Anti-Ageing Day Moisturiser SPF15:http://tidd.ly/71bd863

Tinted Moisturisers and BB Creams with UVA/UVB Protection (must be used very generously if you’re to get anything like the stated protection!)
Boots No7 Tinted Moisturiser: http://tidd.ly/b204205f
l’Occitane BB Cream: http://goo.gl/trX2w
Clarins BB Cream: http://tidd.ly/9ca05dd3

27 comments

  1. You know Ruth I was wondering about vitamin D levels. I was diagnosed with very low levels myself a few weeks ago and am on a high dosage. I have been religious about protecting my skin – even when it was unfashionable to do so! There is so much confusing information. I read on Gwyneth Paltrow’s site that we should be exposing our skin to sunlight at least 20 mins a day (If I remember correctly this was advice from her dermatologist following diagnosis of her own low vitamin D levels). Apparently this is the most effective means of Vitamin D synthesis and absorption.

    • If you google: Vitamin D deficieny by Dr Frank Lipman it is quite an interesting view. :-)

  2. Hi Ruth,

    I love your web page! Good info that helped me a lot! Thank you! Just wondering have you used jane iredale products? They are mineral foundations and they are supposed to offer really good sun protection… Just wanted your opinion… Thanks! :-)

  3. So many helpful recommendations! Thanks, Ruth! My new favourite facial sunscreen is Coola’s Cucumber Mineral sunscreen. Has SPF30, a matte finish, and doesn’t break me out!

  4. thanks for a great post! something that i wonder is, do i have to cover my entire body in spf when i’m on the beach, or mainly the more exposed parts? i’ve started to wear spf on my face everyday and i try to reapply and make sure my neck and arms are always protected, but what about for example feet and lower legs, where i never burn and barely get any tan? (guessing that the answer is that it’s just as important, but it just seems like such a big project to reapply over the whole body several times during the day while on the beach..!)

  5. This really clears up a lot of questions and misconceptions around sunscreen use. We’ve seen some changes over the last year in our FDA regulations here in the US and I think it has definitely helped. I love the Kiehl’s Super Fluid UV defense SPF 50 – it’s a veil of protection you can use over any moisturizer and it feels weightless. The BB Cream SPF 50 is great too, and treats sun spots too

  6. Alicia Jauffret

    the clinique spfs are really nice as well for faces. They’re a really thick consistency but they don’t break me out and work for oily skin. I took my one is spf30 to Malta a couple of weeks ago and it was the only part of me which picked up a bit of colour but didn’t burn at all which I was impressed with considering how fair I am and a little goes a long way.

  7. I have a question for you – I am frustrated with the constrantly reapplying sunscreen 10/15 mins before i step out. I have to admit because of my busy lifestyle i can’t follow this strictly very often/too often. I am looking for products that works the instant you apply them on your face. I don’t mind cream or spray. Does the following products does the job that I am looking for. Need advice… Please help.

    Avene Sun Very High Protection SPF 50+ Spray

    FYI – I am brown skin and I get tan very easily. Hate tanning! :(

    • There are chemical sunscreens that must sink into your skin and there are physical sunscreens, like zinc oxide, that sit on top of your skin will work much more quickly.

  8. Saša Janković

    Hi Ruth. I have to mention UltraSun as one of my personal faves. It’s a once- a-day formulation and I can vouch for the fact it does the job really well. I went on hol to Cyprus with the girls and I was the only one who didn’t get burned. I’ve got oily-ish skin and I find it mixes perfectly well with a blob of foundation to give me all-day coverage that doesn’t shift or slide off my face. In short, I love it, and use it every day, all year round.

  9. I have a question. I have heard Sam from pixiwoo say that you can’t layer SPF – that it will actually give you less protection. Have I understood that correctly?

    • Well, it has been suggested that sometimes they can destabilise one another if the ingredients “clash” – it’s better to go for one proper SPF product rather than think you’re getting a cumulative SPF figure from many layers. Does that make sense? I wouldn’t have heart failure if you inadvertently layer them up, just don’t think that by layering you’re getting extra protection as it’s not always the case! x

  10. I agree with this post completely, no matter what skin colour you have, you need to wear an SPF during the day. I have recently bought the Murad one you have suggested and according to Paula’s choice review, it has good broad spectrum UVA and UVB protection, so yipee! In France I also bought this Bioderma SPF30 AKN Mat face moisturiser. Not quite as mattifying as the Murad one but I think you’re onto something here about creams with a higher SPF seem to sting the eyes. I got a tiny bit into my eyes (maybe just from putting the cream on really close to the eyes) and my goodness, did my eyes water like mad afterwards! I do like the cream, but just wish that it was more matte! Anyway, great video, Ruth :) x

    • Thanks Helen – yes, I reckon the SPF50s are quite strong in chemical sunscreen ingredients, that’s probably why they sting! x

  11. Thanks from one of the “slightly older generation” people! (Had to laugh when you said that!) But I really don’t see how it’s possible to get a teaspoonful of SPF onto your face, neck and chest! What am I not seeing? I’m not sure my generation will ever get used to SPFs (bah humbug!) though I really, really try! Are you putting it on in layers? And I keep hearing different advise as to when the SPF goes on…before any serum or moisturizer or after?

    • Goes on after moisturiser. Though I don’t use a moisturiser as well, so put it on after serum! I agree about the teaspoon thing – it’s ridiculous. I tried to put a whole teaspoon on my arm and there was twice too much… Needs addressing really as it’s just not feasible. x

      • I am also very confused about the order of when the SPF goes on… I think, like you mention Ruth, that the most logical thing would be to apply it after your lotion – before any eventual foundation, but my Dermalogica Super sensitive faceblock spf 30 suggest ‘under your moisturizer’ ?! grrr. So for a normal working day you would skip your daily moisturizer all together and just apply SPF and a foundation?

      • It takes more time and patience but it is definitely possible to use that much sunscreen. It it easier to do if your skin is drier and/or if you’re using a higher quality sunscreen (the cheaper fillers don’t absorb as easily) but it’s possible. Sometimes I have to do it in two batches, though. I can burn in 15 minutes so I’ve learned to be very careful.

  12. SPF´s! a pleasure to hear your thoughts about it (talking from the south of Spain where the sun is frying us all year round) I have tried a lot of creams, a lot! and one I really like for the body which is not very expensive (taking into account you need a whole salary for SPF creams) and great quality is La Roche Posay Anthelios 50, it spreads very easyly and one for the face I´ve discovered lately is the Kiehl´s BB Cream 50 with Vitamin C, it´s simply great! skincare, light coverage and protection!You´re going to love this stuff! :-)

  13. I need to get a face suncream that doesn’t break me out. I’m kind of hesitant to buy one because I don’t know if it’ll work for me skin

    • Freyja Vermeire

      Hello Helena,

      La Roche Possay has 2 formulas in their Anthelios range that are perfect for oily skin, prone to break outs. You can choose between the fluid and the creme. They both are “dry-toutch”and really become mat on your face and don’t break you out. Also,not expensive.

      Good luck with it!

      x Freyja

      • What’s the difference between the cream and fluid?

        • I would imagine the cream would be thicker and take longer to absorb/be more moisturising, while the fluid would be thinner (more watery) and quickly absorbed.

          • freyja Vermeire

            That’s exactly how it works. I have to say that the cream works beter for me. The fluid is more difficult to work in quickly,and gets a bit in stripes of white on my face.