SPF and the City

High-flying ladies, take note. You may be wearing work clothes rather than a bikini in the South of France but that’s no reason to ignore the need for sun protection. The heat of the city streets can be as damaging as any sea air – more so because we don’t necessarily realise that even sitting next to a sunny window can cause skin damage. We’re enjoying the hottest summer for years, and city skin has never been more at risk from both sun damage and pollution at the same time. Not a great combination for a glowing complexion.

“Office workers are lulled into a false sense of security in the summer,” says cosmetic guru, Dr Michael Prager. “You think that because you aren’t actively sunbathing, you don’t need to use protection, but in fact the city centre is lethal for skin at this time of year.”

The city is often overcast, because of pollution. This intensifies UV exposure as airborne dust and particles reflect back the light. A combination of skin-damaging free-radicals – ozone and pollutants – are also extra high in the heat.Panic not. Solutions are at hand.


Prager recommends applying an anti-oxidant cream or serum first thing in the morning, followed by a tinted moisturiser with an SPF of twelve or upwards. He suggests Phloretin, by Skinceuticals (£137, www.skinceuticals.co.uk or www.drmichaelprager.com). If you’d rather not blow your holiday budget, give Agera MagC Peptide Serum a go (£48, www.agera.co.uk ) or for real value for money, try The Body Shop’s Vitamin C Skin Reviver (£12.50, www.thebodyshop.co.uk).

Tinted Moisturisers with SPF

For the ultimate in tinted protection, you can’t beat La Roche-Posay’s Anthelios XL Extreme Fluid (£16.50. www.laroche-posay.co.uk). This factor fifty tinted cream has a surprisingly light texture and the highest UV protection on the market. Marks and Spencers have a brilliant Perfection Illuminating Tinted Moisturiser, SPF 15 (£6.50 www.markandspencer.com) which makes skin look cool and sheer.


Many companies are realising the importance of the anti-oxidant/SPF combination and have developed creams which combine the two tasks. Just pop some powder over the top. Jan Marini Antioxidant Face Protectant, SPF 30(£45, 0208 868 4411) is both antioxidant, sunscreen, and waterproof. Ideal for those melting moments on the tube when the air conditioning doesn’t work. Alternatively, Epionce Ultra Shield SPF 50 (£38, www.epionce.com) has no parabens and is packed with antioxidants. Estee Lauder’s Daywear Plus Multi Protection Tinted Moisturiser (£23, www.esteelauder.co.uk) combines all three functions in one elegant tube.

Don’t think that being inside necessarily keeps you away from damaging your skin in the sun. “If you’re in an office and sitting by the window, you are still at risk of UV light,” points out Prager. “Look at cab drivers – they often age more quickly on the right hand side of their body, which is most exposed to the window.” Imagine getting home and realising that you look like a Harlequin!

And remember, SPF doesn’t last all day. “If you’re going to go outside in the sun at lunchtime, make sure you reapply,” says Prager. The sun protection factor in creams is fixed by applying 200 microgrammes per square centimetre of skin and then testing how quickly the light filters through. Unless you want to walk around looking like a snowman, you won’t be applying this unfeasible amount, so it’s important to top up during the day.

And if you feel that you’re already in need of a quick fix for sun drained city skin, pop down to The Spa Studio at the Lanesborough for a Sun Protection Facial (£85, www.lanesborough.com) , which uses cloudberry and canola oils to neutralise free radicals and revive your complexion. Skin is left nourished and glowing, all ready for post-work drinks in the evening sunshine.

by Alice Smellie
[picture credit: Cain Doherty]
Alice Smellie

Alice Smellie

With a passion for beauty and over a decade’s experience working for national newspapers and magazines, Alice has written for such publications as the Independent, Harpers, Grazia, ES Magazine,Daily Telegraph, Brides magazine and InStyle magazine. For the last five years she has predominantly been writing beauty features for the Daily Mail. Her obsession with decent mascara is rivalled only by her increasingly desperate quest for effective anti-wrinkle creams. She adores cheap chocolate, expensive champagne and Edward Cullen with a passion and hasn’t left the house without wearing make-up since 1993 when the local newsagent didn’t recognise her without lipgloss.

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