The Sizzle Factor: I scream, you scream, we all scream for sun cream by @cathymartin


As it’s still July and therefore holiday time for many of us in Northern Ireland, it is very apt to talk about tanning products. For the past fortnight I’ve been in a friend’s house in the south of France enjoying long, wave-jumping filled days on gorgeous beaches with the kids….

I’ve not been on a ‘sand sandwiches’ kind of holiday in a while and it was refreshing, for a change, to forgo the bamboo beach loungers and cocktails of my ‘grown up’ getaways in favour of towels and beach blankets on the sand with ham and cheese baguettes for lunch.

As we were often on the shore from morning until almost sunset, we needed great sun protection factors. And I sought out some of my favourites to try out this summer. Here’s hoping you’ll like and try my recommendations.

First, the face. While I think there’s nothing prettier than a smattering of freckles on a youthful face, sun damaged age spots don’t seem to have quite the same panache as I age, despite my love for a face full of history, so I protect my face well when I can and expose it as little as possible. Aside from a parasol, one of the best sun protection factors you can invest in is, of course, a hat, so choose a stylish one with a brim wide enough to cover at least your nose and cheekbones – two easily burnt areas. Personally I like a straw cowboy hat, but I also love contemporary coloured sun visors too.

My facial SPF of choice this holiday was from the French brand Sisley, a company full of true experts at merging nature and science in skincare. Their Youth Protector SPF 30 for the face is a creamy lotion with a delicate perfume which I applied several times daily – between dips in the sea and showers at the poolside. My skin never had the typically tight feeling of overexposure & dehydration and continued to retain the same subtlety as before – well, as subtle as 42 year old skin gets! I also used their tinted moisturiser with SPF a few times, although thankfully this was not really a make-up-wearing holiday for me, so I may use that as the tan fades now that I am home – and to great affect from what I’ve seen on the couple of applications on holiday. At this point I should note that for the past decade I was a massive fan of Sisley’s SPF 6 spray oil (I know, a super low SPF, but I am of a naturally deep skin tone). It was so easy to apply with a gentle spray nozzle and a smell which embodied summer for me for years. I do hope there is a (higher SPF) replacement sometime soon!

But back to this holiday – on my first week I turned to another French brand, DARPHIN, for its SPF 30 Soleil Plaisir anti-ageing body cream. This was again a rich and lightly scented crème which helped me avoid those wrinkly elbows and knees so common as we hit our forties. When my trusty NIVEA kids SPF 50 spray ran out, I also used this on Valentina, my four year old, and her skin was so beautiful to touch afterwards, it was a pleasure to moisturise into her little limbs as she got her daily dose of vitamin D.

As my tan developed I dropped my SPF down to 25 with Hawaiian Tropic’s shimmer effect sun lotion (my girls also loved to share this product for the girly sparkle effect) and then eventually the same brand’s SPF 15 products – the Golden Tint spray and the dry oil. 

Personally I preferred the dry oil texture for repeat applications, but the lotion for the first blast of the day. The boost of colour was really good for even-ing out skin tone and also for late afternoon applications before heading off the beach for a drink or a cheeky ice cream.

Speaking of skin tone, the Vita Liberata Marula dry oil with SPF50 is an amazing 3-in-1 product which deserves a special mention here. It has a high SPF, a self-tanning capacity plus it moisturises. Abracadabra! Regular readers will know that I love a home-grown beauty product (Skinician, He-Shi, White to Brown anyone?) and Vita Liberata ticks lots of boxes with this amazing oil product. Quite often I applied it after my morning shower and let it dry in for a while before dressing for the beach to give me a strong base colour as well as some all over SPF should I miss a bit on the beach. This oil works well at night time too, but I always used it after my creamy after-sun lotion as an extra layer to boost and build colour.

Another respected sun brand that I return to time and time again is LANCASTER and this year I used the after-sun TAN MAXIMISER again to great effect so far. Expected tan maximisation for up to one month is normal with this product and I have no doubt this will happen. One of my top sun products by far – and that’s with over a decade’s use.

Finally, when my tan does start to fade I know I can rely on SELFIE Tan’s gradual tan moisturiser to help build my colour back up again. But remember if you’re planning to do this, it’s important to exfoliate all that dry skin off before applying a tanning product if you want to avoid patches and dark spots!

Happy and healthy sunbathing everyone! Please reapply your creams often and be sure to use hats, parasols and even the beach bars to take regular shelter from the sun’s beating rays.

Cathy X

Post Author: Belfast Times

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