“L.A. living” conjures fun in the sun, basking at the beach and driving past palm trees, windows-down. But heightened awareness about UVA/UVB damage has tamped down enthusiasm about being exposed to summer’s glaring rays — making many incredulous they were ever part of the oh-so-unhealthy, fry-skin-to-a-crisp, baby-oil tanning brigade. But there are modern beauty products designed to harness the sun’s power and use it as a force for beauty good rather than evil. Our experts shed light on not just protecting, but nourishing, skin and hair al fresco.
First things first. Don’t forget the sun-protection basics: wear a good broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF between 15 and 50 and reapply it every two hours, says Stanford University dermatology professor Dr. Anthony Oro. “A hat and a roof are also inexpensive and effective safeguards against the sun’s rays,” he adds.
Then you can start looking at products that make the most of your sun time. For example, Clinique Sun Broad Spectrum SPF 50 Sunscreen Face Cream with SolarSmart ($21.50, clinique.com) is infused with “solar activated” anti-aging ingredients.
“We have been incorporating into our sun care products many other technologies to get the benefits you need in the sun, such as antioxidants and repair enzymes,” says Tom Mammone, Clinique vice president for skin physiology and pharmacology, global research and development. “One technology we use is our SolarSmart, an evolving technology where we encapsulate a team of antioxidants that burst open and release when they’re exposed to the sun. We also use photosomes that contain a DNA repair enzyme called photolyase that when it absorbs sun uses that energy to repair DNA damage.”
He says Clinique actively looks to utilize the sun in many daytime products. “The more you’re in the sun, the more damage you get, so the more repair you want,” says Mammone. “Utilize the energy you’re exposed to your advantage.”
Activate hair health
Although there’s a wealth of after-sun, deep-conditioning hair products, look for leave-in sun protection for times when you’re not wearing a hat to defend against hair damage and discoloration. “Ultraviolet light from sun is absorbed by hair, as hair is actually a very good sunscreen for your scalp,” says Oro. “But the rays can damage the hair structure and make it brittle, causing breakage. Also, the sun dries out hair from heat. Because older hair is thinner and lacks the protective cuticle seen in younger hair, it becomes increasingly important to protect your hair from long sun exposure.”
A couple of years ago, model Camila Alves told us that in Brazil she grew up sitting in the sun with avocado paste on her head as a moisturizing deep conditioner. Oro confirms she was on to something. “Polyhydroxylated fatty alcohols from the avocado have been shown to block ultraviolet light and decrease inflammation,” says Oro. “Also the avocado is rich in Vitamin E oil.”
For a walk down high-school memory lane there’s always Sun-In Spray-In Hair Lightener ($4.99, ulta.com) and similar products from brands including L’OrÃ©al, Dessange Paris and John Frieda. Even celebrity hair stylist Frederic Fekkai says he’s used vodka and lemon to highlight hair.
Here are a few beauty products that can help you face the sun beautifully.
Clinique Sun Broad Spectrum SPF 50 Sunscreen Face Cream with SolarSmart and Clinique Smart Custom-Repair Serum ($21.50, $59, respectively, clinique.com) are infused with solar-activated anti-aging ingredients.
CND Vinylux Weekly Polish ($10.50, cnd.com/products) is a long-wearing formula used without base coat. Exposure to sunlight activates patent-pending ProLight Technology, making the polish more durable over time.
For the Record
July 17, 4:50 p.m.: An earlier version of this post and the accompanying photo gallery said CND Vinylux Weekly Polish is priced at $9.90. It is priced at $10.50.
Alterna Haircare Bamboo Beach Summer Sun-Kissed Smooth Illuminating Cream ($22, sephora.com) contains a UV protection formula made to control frizz, lighten and nourish hair.
John Frieda Beach Blonde Sun Streaks Lightening Spray ($9.99, ulta.com) is a sun-activated hair highlighter.
Sun Bum Beach Formula 3 in 1 Leave In ($14.99, shop.trustthebum.com) is a UV-protecting and paraben-free formula enriched with coconut oil, banana, quinoa protein and sunflower seed oil to help control frizz and split ends.
Bumble and Bumble Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil ($39, sephora.com) provides heat-styling protection with UVA/UVB filters. You can use it before or after blow-drying.