Sunscreen is no longer a ‘grudge’ beauty purchase and about time

It used to be that when asked in an interview, actresses, models and the professionally beautiful would attribute their general glowiness to the rather asinine, "drink lots of water." Now they're more likely to say their best beauty tip is to "wear sunscreen."

And thank goodness for that.

Approximately two in three Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer before the age of 70. If you want to bring vanity into it (we do, this is a beauty column afterall) as anybody in the beauty industry will tell you, UV rays are the biggest cause of premature ageing like wrinkles, fine lines, sun spots and pigmentation (and the sun can aggravate hormonal related pigmentation too).

You have to wear sunscreen every day, not just on holidays!Credit:iStock

There's little point in a complicated skincare routine if you're not adding wearing sunscreen every day. Even in winter.

There's been a shift in recent years in the way we think about and use sunscreen. Brands are following suit with formulations that are a world away from the gloopy, ghoulish versions of your Little Athletics Carnival days (but thank you parents for smothering us in it!). Think Invisible Zinc, Dermalogica's range of sunscreens and Ultraceuticals Sunactive SpF 50+. 

Sunscreen options have never been better nor awareness of its importance higher. This is in part because of brands such as the cult millennial skewed (and official “Unicorn” thanks to its USD billion evolution)  Glossier having a really good one (for its launch founder and beauty queen Emily Weiss confessed to not really wearing sunscreen in her 20s because she could never find one she liked). Then there's the awareness of skin cancer and sun damage raised by the likes of the not-for-profit Call Time on Melanoma, run by journalist Lisa Patulny to share ambassador Natalie Fornasier's skin cancer story, and the likes of beauty mogul and author Zoe Foster-Blake (Foster-Blake's Go-To skincare brand also has a moisturiser with an SPF 15 in its Zincredible SPF15) preaching the sunscreen gospel on the regular.

According to MECCA the SPF category is seeing significant sales growth of more than 50 per cent year-to-date. Its very good in-house brand, To Save Face Superscreen SPF50+  has seen 112 per cent year-on-year on growth.

    It's a similar story at Adore Beauty. CEO and founder Kate Morris says she's noticed a behavioral change when it comes to buying sunscreen. In part because customers are so much better informed about ingredients (this is the case whether knowing the difference between a chemical and a physical sunscreen or the low-down on ceramides).

    "These categories are becoming much less of a grudge purchase," she says.

    "We're actually seeing customers getting excited about sunscreens now, believe it or not. I think the increasing popularity of these categories goes hand-in-hand with the increase in active and cosmeceutical skincare. Our customers are very educated, and they realise there's not much point investing time and money in serious skincare if you're not going to wear an equally serious sunscreen. Likewise self-tanners have become much more sophisticated and pleasant to use. The days of orange, streaky, stinky tans are long gone."

    Morris says Australian brands are performing particularly well in this category, and when you consider our unique climate and lifestyle, this makes a lot of sense.

    Two brands disrupting the sunscreen and sunless tan categories are Luna Bronze, which has bestselling, non-stinky tanless sun products including the Glow Gradual Tanning Moisturiser and the Eclipse Tanning Mousse and Ultra Violette, founded by Ava Matthews and Rebecca Jefferd, both whom have a beauty background, in January.

    Ava Matthews says people expect a whole lot more from their sunscreens now.

    "We call our range of products “skinscreens” because they’re basically a hybrid of suncare and skincare. I feel like definitely the industry is having to evolve in terms of just a basic SPF that does the bare minimum of its job – i.e. just to protect but also included maybe SPF actives that irritated the skin or made you break out. We wanted our formulations to feel luxurious and basically just like your serum or moisturiser – and then wear nicely with those too," she says.

    "Sunscreen historically has been one of those products you HAD to wear because your dermatologist or facialist or mum forced you into it but we’ve definitely seen the sun category shift and become a nicer place –there are some really elegant sun formulations out there and some great actives to work with, especially in Australia."

    The brand has seen success on Adore Beauty. Kate Morris says it's because they've done the impossible – "made sunscreen sexy"– because the formulations can double as serums or primers and have added antioxidants for boosting protection against free radicals damage.

    The brand's bestseller is its Queen Screen,which has the consistency of a serum, is invisible on the skin and makes skin look glowy and the brand plans to release more products in coming months. One hold-up is Australia's stringent testing for SPF products.

    Rhiannon Hall from Luna Bronze is heartened by the response to her brand and others like it on the market.

    "We’re so glad that there is a movement or awakening, especially in younger females, about the importance of sunless tanning as opposed to sun tanning and the enormous benefits of SPF and sun protection. For a while there, we felt that this message wasn’t getting through, but with increased awareness thanks to organisations such as Call Time On Melanoma, who are doing great stuff spreading awareness and busting SPF myths, suddenly our Instagram feed is full of
    people sharing their favourite sunscreen products and recognising the advantages
    of a sunless tan," she says.

    "We created Luna Bronze after Maddy had a run in with Basal Cell Carcinoma so when we hear from customers that our products have made them switch to sunless after being lifelong suntanners or solarium users, we’re over the moon."

    What to buy this Thursday

    Your weekly recommendation for a late-night shopping trip …

    Le Labo Santal 33

    For months I was haunted by this scent. I caught whiffs of it as people passed me by and it stopped me in my tracks. What is your perfume I demanded of an editor I had just met, so allured by her scent I didn't stop to consider whether that was weird. Or even weirder when I had later bought it and told her so when I bumped into her again in true Single White Female fashion. It turns out it was Le Labo Santal 33. I would later find out that this fragrance from the cult fragrance house Le Labo has been worn by so many people Fashionista declared it had become “basic.”

    But I disagree. Its unisex blend of sandalwood, cedarwood, cardamom, iris, violet and ambrox makes me feel powerful and it's always memorable. You can't want for much from a fragrance, no? 50ml, $282. lelabo.com.au

      Skin Deep, our weekly beauty column, is not sponsored. All product recommendations are genuine endorsements.

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