Ah sun protection. It’s something that I’ve become savvier about over the years that’s for sure. Back when I was younger whoever had the best tan from the summer break and went back to school with the darkest tan was considered to have had the most ‘successful’ summer break.
I remember a girl from my school who used to spend every day at the local pool, tanning and swimming so much that her naturally platinum blonde hair turned green. Even my family was into tanning in the peak hours of the hot, melting summer sun. My older and gorgeous female cousins who were very popular at school also used to tan a lot in the summer. One used to even lay out naked on her roof, covered in baby oil. No one talked about sunscreen ever.
When I think back to those days I wince imagining all the damage I was doing to my poor, fair skin which wasn’t meant to be tanned to a brown crisp. I’m the type who tends to burn and then tan unless I’m very careful with my suncare protection. The amount of blister sunburns I have had really make me feel uncomfortable thinking about and to this day I do self-checks when it comes to mole size/changes in colour.
Because I wasn’t getting any education about suncare from anyone around me, I learned about it through experience. It wasn’t until I moved to Japan that my views on the sun changed. I lived in Japan for four years and watched pale Japanese woman trying to avoid the sun like no other. Long sleeves in the summer and parasols even in the big cities were norm – anything to protect against those rays hitting the skin. Even when I went on holidays with Japanese people to beach destinations, they cowered under sun umbrellas and slathered generous amounts of sunscreen factor 50+ all over their bodies.
Japanese women are very well-educated about the dangers of the sun but the reason they avoid it is for cultural and class reasons. In Japan, a Japanese person with very tanned, brown skin is someone who works outside, a blue-collar worker if you will. A Japanese person with very pale, pristine skin is generally an office worker who doesn’t get out in the sun because they have a white-collar job and generally are of the upper or middle class. Japanese women are of course also concerned about ageing and this also is one of the reasons as well as cultural that they are so afraid of the sun hitting their skin.
I was really baffled by this coming from the USA where the darker the tan, the better you perceived yourself to look. But in Japan, I took note of this not for the same reasons as the Japanese, but because I had finally started to learn that the sun was ageing on the skin.
My relationship with the sun changed yet again when I moved to Australia, where they are very highly educated about sun protection due to the extremely strong Australian sun where there is a lack of ozone layer. Their perceptions on sun protection again were completely different. This was not about beauty or about class reasons but about not wanting to get skin cancer and die!
This is where my sun education peaked. I realised that I needed to use sunscreen to both prevent ageing and also protect my skin against skin cancer. I have the type of skin that burns easily when not protected and I have to be careful in the sun. Therefore, I prefer using a SPF 50+ in strong sunlight and I ALWAYS use a moisturiser or foundation with sunscreen every single day.
Choosing the right sun protection is extremely important for your skin type and destination which is why I was really excited to partner with Ultrasun on this post for their #myskinis campaign. Knowing my complicated history with suncare I feel like I’ve now reached where I want to be in terms of being educated about the sun. For example, you should always choose a sunscreen with a high enough SPF for your skin type but also a high UVA filter to block out the damaging rays. It’s also about knowing how to apply the product properly. You should always apply your sunscreen 15 minutes before you go out, while you are still indoors and also make sure you don’t miss any spots!
Also, lots of people including me ask what is the difference between UVA rays and UVB rays? UVA rays are the damaging rays that can cause skin cancer and they actually penetrate through the skin and cause cell change. Fortunately, the percentage of UVA filter level is on all Ultrasun packaging. UVB rays however, cause burning and damage to the skin’s surface. The level of protection against UVB rays is measured in the SPF.
It might be that you have the kind of skin that doesn’t need a high SPF or your skin tans really easily and never burns but a high UVA filter is always important in your sun cream. Or it could be that you have very sensitive skin (Ultrasun has amazing sun creams for sensitive skin!) or you may have what I like to call ‘mix and match’ skin where you burn on some areas like the tops of your shoulders but not on your legs. Ultrasun has an opened shelf life of 24 months, so if you do have one product for your legs and one for you shoulders it can last you over two summers. Most sunscreens have an opened shelf life of 6-12 months.
I chose my favourite three products from the Ultrasun range that are suited to my skin which are the Ultrasun Anti-Age SPF 50+ Tinted Ivory, Ultrasun Face Anti-Age & Anti-Pigmentation SPF50+ and Ultrasun Sports Spray SPF 30.
The Ultrasun Anti-Age SPF 50+ Tinted Ivory I like because it’s a tinted moisturiser and sunscreen all in one. I like a product that can multi-task for me and this is one I can wear every single day so it covers my fears about my face ageing from UV rays.
The Ultrasun Face Anti-Age & Anti-Pigmentation cream SPF50+ I also like because I suffer from mild melasma so need to wear really high sun protection on the face. This is a moisturiser and sunscreen that also targets and prevents pigmentation so it pretty much ticks off all of those boxes for me as well!
And then the Ultrasun Sports Spray SPF 30 I love because it’s super easy to apply in a spray format and you can take it with you on your holidays and spritz on a top-up when needed. I just love the ease of use here.
Now the most important question…what is your #myskinis story?
*You can get the Ultrasun 5 Piece Complete Sun Protection Collection online at QVC from TODAY (1st April 2018) until 4th April 2018 for only £36.98 (normal RRP 60.00) – shop the link HERE
**This post is in collaboration with Ultrasun through a paid partnership but all views and opinions are my own