When I traveled to Bangkok a year and a half ago, I was really surprised when I returned to the hotel after a day of exploring the Grand Palace. My cheeks were flushed, and it wasn’t due to the humid 95-degree weather. I realized that even though I had been wearing a wide-brim hat, sunglasses and plenty of sunscreen, and thought that I was protected from the sun above, the UV rays had reflected off all the gold surfaces — at the Grand Palace, you’re pretty much surrounded by gilt — and had given me a mild burn. Needless to say, I was aghast.
Later research revealed that yes, UV rays reflect off not only metallic surfaces but pavement, sand, sea foam, even grass. It’s another dismaying revelation in my never-ending battle against sun exposure and hyperpigmentation.
So as I get set to explore the wonders of Istanbul, I’m making sure I’m prepared with not only a hat and big sunglasses but broad spectrum sunscreens, antioxidants mists and supplements, and nighttime serums to fight the damage UV rays wreaked during the day.
La Roche-Posay, a brand I trust to always be on the cutting edge of sun protection, has a great new product, Anthelios AOX Daily Antioxidant Serum, a serum featuring their most potent antioxidant complex to fight free radicals, with broad spectrum, photostable SPF 50. I know — a serum with SPF? How does that work?
Sadly, sunscreen alone isn’t enough to fully protect skin from the free radicals caused by UV rays. In fact, a 2006 study found that sunscreen filters only protect the skin from up to 55 percent of UV-induced free radicals. You also need antioxidants to provide a second layer of defense, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Anthelios AOX provides both free radical-fighting antioxidant protection and broad spectrum UV protection. According to La Roche-Posay, you apply it before your moisturizer; the sunscreen component shouldn’t interfere with absorption of the ingredients in your moisturizer.
To further give my skin an antioxidant boost, I’ll be spritzing my face throughout the day with The Lotus Lotus Leaf & Lemon Mist, not just for the refreshing pick-me-up but for the powerful antioxidants of the lotus leaf and lemon extract to soothe irritated skin (which mine will be after a half day at the sun-soaked ruins of Ephesus). I’ll also be popping Heliocare supplements, which works in conjunction with a broad spectrum sunscreen to fight UV damage. And at night, after removing every trace of sunscreen, makeup, sweat and environmental toxins with my all-time favorite Koh Gen Do Cleansing Spa Water wipes, I’ll drench my skin in antioxidant serums and super-hydrating snail slime masks, in penance for the epidermal tortures that are inevitable on a day spent sightseeing centuries-old mosques and palaces.
Clearly, I’m going to be armed to the skin care hilt, but my main concern is reapplying sunscreen. All the experts say you have to reapply every two hours, and I have yet to figure out how to do this when you have a face full of makeup. As I mentioned above, I suffer from pretty bad hyperpigmentation and therefore wear full coverage BB creams and powder to cover up the dark spots. So how on earth am I expected to slather on a lotion sunscreen on top of that without ruining my makeup or just starting all over?
I’m still on the search for a good solution. There’s makeup setting mists with SPF, but not only do these mists have alcohol in them (I can feel the burn the minute I spray it on) I question whether a few mists would provide sufficient SPF protection (I mean, you have to apply a quarter-size amount of sunscreen lotion to your face — how are a few spritzes supposed to match that?).
My best solution for now is a cushion compact, the revolutionary BB cream in a compact developed in Korea. I really like Sulwhasoo’s Evenfair Perfecting Cushion. It not only covers discoloration well, you can reapply all the livelong day without it creasing or cracking. I also like the darkest shade — No. 25 — as it doesn’t give me that white cast most BB creams do.
So if you catch me at Hagia Sophia, dabbing my face with a compact, don’t call me vain. Call me sun safe.