We all know we should be protecting our face from the sun year-round because it doesn’t have to be sunny for those UV rays to be harmful to your skin. With that being said, I have to be honest, I usually only use a higher factor dedicated sunscreen with SPF50 in the sunnier months, as opposed to in winter where I generally rely on the SPF of my foundation or moisturiser – please don’t judge me!
When it comes to SPF though, it’s not for lack of knowledge or even laziness. The one problem that I have with sunscreen is that without fail, it always breaks me out. This year I’ve spent a crazy amount on trying out different brands and researching on which brands will protect me the most. Try as I might, without fail, after a couple of uses I’ll get tiny spots and the texture of my skin drastically changes. Eventually I raided my sisters stash and found something that’s changed my sun protection game completely – The Body Shop Skin Defence Multi Protection Essence.
We all know that the higher the SPF value you have, the longer you are protected from the sun, at least that’s what we’ve been told by advertisements but what I didn’t know until this year is that this number only relates to UVB rays (which cause sun burn and skin cancer). UVA is different because the rays are considered the sun’s silent killers; unlike UVB rays, you do not feel the effects of UVA rays damaging your skin. The sun’s UVA rays do not cause sunburn but instead they cause skin to turn brown. UVA rays are known as the sun’s silent killers because you don’t feel them affecting skin. Despite the lack of pain associated with UVA rays, they penetrate deeply into skin, causing a somewhat different type of damage than UVB rays.
One more difference is that UVA rays penetrate glass, while UVB rays do not. So if you’re driving a lot or sit by the window you’ve got to be very very careful and protect yourself.
It’s not just about the SPF rating
In all honesty I’ve only recently started noticing the UVA rating system. In the UK, some products measure it in stars (1 star being the lowest, 5 stars the highest) but it can also be indicated by the wording ‘Broad Spectrum’. This wording is annoying because it’s not specific on the level of protection you are being offered. To confuse things a little more some products use the Asian UVA system of ‘PA’: PA+ being the lowest level of protection and PA++++ the highest. The Body Shop uses this method and therefore has a rating of PA++++.
Now on to the actual product itself! The branding is in line with the Drops Of Light range (white opaque packaging with black caps. The sun screen comes in a squeezy bottle which is really easy to use.
The consistency of the sun screen is actually really thin (as the name ‘essence’ would suggest). It’s actually wonderful because you’re not dragging it across your face with regret hoping that the big blob of white cream doesn’t leave a white/grey over cast.
It’s instantly absorbed (prob the high alcohol content there), and there’s no sticky residue or film. It leaves your skin feeling incredibly smooth and has a nice, almost matte finish, but doesn’t actually feel drying. You can see in the picture below where I rubbed some of the essence on to the back of my hand. There really is no whiteness left behind.
On first glance the product looks amazing. The coverage is really high with SPF and it applies like a too so what could possibly be wrong with it? Well, when you turn over and have a look at the ingredients the second ingredient is Alcohol Denat. A high amount of alcohol means that it’s definitely not going to be a product that’s suitable for those with very sensitive skin. What’s the big deal some people might ask. Well actually alcohol is really really drying and overtime it aggravates and weakens the skin.
Update: I’ve spoken to a few people who have used this with sensitive skin and they’ve all said it stings their skin. Ouch!
I don’t have sensitive skin so I should be ok, right?
Simple alcohols are great at sweeping away oil (which is why the products with high alcohol content dry super quickly and leave your skin feeling “clean” aka tight). This may sound really appealing if your skin is naturally oily or acne prone but your skin relies on its own homegrown moisturizer (oil) to help it maintain its natural barrier against pollution, bacteria, and all of the other bad things you don’t want getting inside of your body, so stripping down all of that sebum also means leaving your skin exposed.
Honestly, it’s a tough decision to make but at least you’ll be making an informed one now right?
I still want to try this, what’s the best way to use it?
I load up with a good moisturiser and a Hyaluronic acid serum to help try and retain as much moisture as possible before going in with SPF. I love how this product creates a lovely base for makeup too, ESPECIALLY as you don’t have to worry about the whiteness most sunscreens leave behind and it dries matte.
Side note: Please always remember to wear moisturiser BEFORE SPF. When moisturizer is applied after sunscreen, it can actually change the properties of your sunscreen. It can also alter the way that UV rays meet your skin – not a risk we want to be taking.
The only other thing I dislike about this product is that there is quite a strong fragrance which is a personal bug bear of mine. I hate artificial fragrances in products but I guess it’s not a horrible smell so I can deal with it.
Currently The Body Shop are offering two sizes. 40ml and 60ml. 40ml is priced at £17 whilst the 60ml is £21.
It’s more efficient to buy the bigger size to be honest. I can see myself working my way throug the tube quite quickly too due to the running consistency and how fast drying it is.
Purchase yours here
So far I’ve been really enjoying using the product. Would I purchase this product again? I think it’s likely that I will yes but I’ll do it reluctantly after knowing what I know now about the ingredients.