Beauty Editor Anna Bok reveals her tips for safe sunbathing and introduces her Top 8 products for optimal sun protection
What does summer smell like? For some, it’s the smell of salty sea air. For others it’s freshly mowed grass or the rain, which is always so much more distinctive at this time of year than at others. For me, it’s primarily the scent of sun cream because it takes me immediately back to so many summer vacations, back to probably the most beautiful and carefree time of year when your hair is tousled by salt water and fine grains of sand are permanently stuck between your toes.
But of course you need to think about sun protection well before your weather app is showing temperatures of 25°C and above: In fact, UV protection is a must the whole year around in order to prevent skin aging (which is 90% based on sun exposure!) and cancer. And now, just in time for high summer and completely in line with the old adage “better late than never,” here are a few facts on the topic of sun protection plus my eight favorite products for your next trip to the park or the water’s edge.
Facts & Tips
Sunlight consists of visible, infrared, and ultraviolet light. The latter is composed of UVA and UVB rays – that much just about everyone knows. However, for a long time it was just the short-wave, very aggressive UVB rays that were considered damaging for the skin. But these just have an effect on the upper layers of the skin (hello, sun burns!), whereas the long-wave UVA rays penetrate deeper into the skin and are responsible of premature skin aging as well as sun allergies. Therefore, you should definitely pay attention that your sun protection is broad spectrum and protects against both UVA and UVB.
And it doesn’t matter how many times you apply it: The sun protection factor (SPF) will always stay the same. So it’s best to start with a higher factor sun protection, like SPF 30 or even SPF 50. Ideally, you should apply these when you’re still at home – as a rule of thumb, a half an hour before you go out in the sun. But you do need to reapply your sun protection at least every two hours, especially on the areas where the sun lands more directly, like your nose and shoulders.
That you shouldn’t linger in the blazing midday sun and also shouldn’t stay out in it for hours on end, hopefully by now that’s self-evident. Luckily, that once beloved “roasted chicken” time of our youth is history. Also good to know: Thoroughly exfoliate your skin one day before so that all of your old cells are removed. Now there’s nothing between you and a healthy, even tan.
Sun Protection: Face
I was searching forever for the perfect facial sun cream. Most of them had textures that were too rich for me and an unpleasant sticky film was pretty much par for the course. That search is finally over thanks to Glossier: Invisible Shield is an ultra-light gel with SPF 35 that absorbs in no time, doesn’t clog your pores, and works its magic to leave behind buttery soft skin with a matte finish. What’s more, the gel also contains nourishing ingredients like a vitamin E antioxidant complex and broccoli and Aloe Vera extracts. It’s a pure blessing for your skin!
My second favorite is Sun Drops by Dr. Barbara Sturm with SPF 50, which you mix a few drops of into your normal face cream. It’s perfect for all of you who don’t want an extra layer of sun protection or otherwise tend to forget it. A practical thing to have on the go is the Sun Mist sun protection spray with SPF 30 by Pixi: a quick spritz on your face, over make-up is no problem – and you’re done! It also contains chamomile and bamboo extracts to calm sun-stressed skin in no time.
I also love the Tan Accelerator by The Organic Pharmacy as a little extra on top of the aforementioned protection products: With active plant-based ingredients like beta carotene and kapikachhu, it stimulates melanin production and caters to a faster, deeper tan. It’s best to start with that shortly before you go on vacation, then you won’t be lying on the beach on your first day completely sheet white.
Regarding sun protection for the lips, unfortunately that’s often neglected. Your skin there is extremely sensitive because it doesn’t have a protective layer of fat and also barely produces any melanin to protect it from UV rays. I keep the Lip Conditioner by Ilia in my bag at all times. With SPF 15, it doesn’t just offer reliable sun protection, but also leaves behind a subtle and natural shimmer.
Sun Protection: Body
I’ve been a fan of Susanne Kaufmann’s beauty products for years. So I was even more excited for her new sun care line – and luckily I wasn’t disappointed. The Body Broad Spectrum Protection cream with SPF 25 absorbs super quickly, doesn’t get sticky even in the worst heat, and even has a fresh, melon-like scent with definite addictive potential.
Sun protection for your hair? Absolutely! After all, your hair gets especially sun-stressed. That’s why I always work a dab of Hair In The Sun by Sachajuan into my damp hair during my morning shower. And practical enough, the cream’s UV filter even survives an after-work trip to the pool.
After-sun care products actually don’t belong in the protection category, but in any case they should immediately follow an extensive day in the sun. For all of you who like things as natural as possible, After Sun by Muti is exactly the right choice. The gel with Aloe Vera and hyaluronic acid is free of paraffins, silicone, and mineral oil and gives the skin an extra boost of moisture while leaving behind a cool, fresh feeling on the surface. Because everyone knows: The more intensively you care for your skin after being in the sun, the longer your tan lasts – and that’s still always the summer’s best souvenir.
Translation: Melissa Frost
Anna Bok was born and raised in Berlin. After stops in Freiburg and Florence, she made her way to Hamburg in 2007 to study journalism and art history – where she stayed and worked as a freelance journalist with various publications including Harper’s Bazaar, Süddeutsche Zeitung, and Blonde. She’s now returned to Berlin after nearly 10 years in the Hanseatic City. When Anna isn’t writing about beauty, fashion, or traveling, you’ll often find her on her yoga mat (recommendations for studios in Berlin welcome!).