The Glasshouse Guide to SPF

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At the height of summer, we’re topping up our makeup bags at home with products that contain sun-protecting ingredients, and we’ve got a great selection available online. Between SPF, UVA and UVB it can be difficult to decipher which ingredients do what, and also importantly how they’re affecting our bodies. Studies have shown that many commercial sunscreens contain hormone-disrupting ingredients and some potentially toxic chemicals, which we’d prefer to steer clear of (especially if we’re reapplying every 2 hours).

The leather-look is cute on a couch but not on our skin, so we’ve been investigating the world of natural yet effective sun protectants and learning the lingo of solar safety.

Health officials say our bodies do actually need sunlight as it’s the only natural form of Vitamin D and manufactured forms aren’t as effective, however it’s recommended that we soak up those rays at times when the sun isn’t at it’s strongest, earlier in the morning or later in the evening, for around 20 minutes a day.

Image: American Apparel
Image: American Apparel

The two major rays associated with sun damage are UVA and UVB rays. UVA penetrate deep into the skin and are associated with wrinkles and ageing, while UVB are what cause the skin to burn on the surface. You may have seen products advertising themselves as “Broad Spectrum”, meaning they offer protection against both types of rays.

Most of the mineral SPF products here at Glasshouse, such as Ilia Beauty Tinted Moisturiser, contain a Broad Spectrum protectant called Non-Nano Zinc Oxide (now say that quickly 10 times). Zinc Oxide is an active sunscreen that puts a physical barrier between our skin and the sun’s rays, and ‘Non-Nano’ means it’s particles aren’t small enough to soak into our bloodstream. Phew!

We couldn’t recommend Jane Iredale more when it comes to chemical-free SPF - both their full coverage Glow Time BB Cream and PurePressed Base Mineral Foundation contain broad spectrum protection, plus their innovative Powder Me SPF Dry Sunscreen gives SPF 30 in a translucent powder form. Great if you’re not a fan of greasy sunscreen and it’s also water resistant for up to 40 minutes - a perfect poolside companion.

Ilia Beauty’s balms and lipsticks also all contain sunflower seed oil, which is high in anti-oxidants including Vitamin E and has been shown to reduce free radicals that cause skin damage. Sunflower seed oil is also naturally moisturising and high in beta-carotene which can reduce sun sensitivity, making it a pretty great all-rounder.

Image: Brydie Mack
Image: Brydie Mack

Ilia have also taken the ray-blocking a step further with their SPF collection launched earlier this year, containing - you guessed it - high grade Non-Nano Zinc Oxide. Comprising of five key items and packaged sustainably in white recyclable packaging, we’re particular fans of the Radiant Beauty Balm - a light BB cream with soft pearl gold pigments and the all important SPF 20.

Slip, slop ‘n slappin’ is all very well, but take care not to forget about your hair. As advised in our Summer SOS Masterclass, the best offence is defence and making sure your hair is in tip top condition will help it withstand UV damage. Ensuring your hair is nice and strong with a protein shampoo is essential, as is using an environmental protectant like the Protect Leave-In Conditioner from Organic Colour Systems. Yet again sunflower seed oil features in this spray for UV protection, along with grapefruit and orange peel extract. This will also help to combat colour fade and keep the dreaded straw-like texture at bay.

Whether you’re a beach baby or live for summer in the city, we like think the season is all about ease - no brainer, multi-purpose products that you can apply, forget about and be safe in the knowledge that your skin is being protected and nourished.

Click here for our edit of the best SPF products.

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