Here’s why I’m excited about liposomal sunscreens

You might think that the topic of sunscreen has been covered. Every year we all do a little recap on what you should know, how you should be using it, and which bad habits you should shake. And yet every year people ignore sound advice. So let me preach this again: skin cancer is a very real, very prominent and very scary illness, and we should all take great care to protect our skins as far as possible.

I think it really struck home for me when I learnt that the sunburns you get during your childhood and younger years can lead to cancerous cells later in life. Yes, that one day you turned yourself into a crayfish on Clifton beach as a student can give you skin cancer. For real.

Now I already hear the conversation going around in your head. Sunscreen is so expensive, it feels icky sticky on my skin, I just forget to reapply when I’m at the beach, it makes my face look ashy… [insert more excuses here]. I get it, I’ve used all those arguments. But feeling icky sticky is better than the alternative.

Luckily brands are working really hard to make sunscreens more appealing. New formulations feel lighter, are less irritating, and physical blockers like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are even being formulated as tiny micropigments which means they don’t give that white residue. One new development I’m particularly excited about is the idea of a liposomal sunscreen.

What are Liposomes?

Liposomes are man-made particles that can act as capsules to carry other ingredients deeper into the skin. They are basically microscopic sacs enclosed in lipids (fats) and are able to pass through the upper surface layer of the skin to deliver their ingredient.

Liposomes are, for instance, often used to carry Vitamin C to the deeper layers of the skin. Vitamin C is a powerful anti-oxidant that can help fight free radicals and sun damage, but it also becomes unstable in sunlight. With this technology Vitamin C can be delivered deeper into the skin where it can work its magic.

So how does a liposomal sunscreen work?

The idea is that because of the liposomes, UVA and UVB filters can penetrate into the outer layers of the epidermis – beneath the hard layer of dead skin cells called the stratum corneum – and because of this they may provide protection for longer than sunscreens that sit on top of the skin. Research is still being done, but it is definitely an exciting development.

Liposomal sunscreen is also said to be safer than standard chemical sunscreens. Chemical sunscreens work by absorbing potentially harmful UV rays so that they can’t damage the skin cells. The worry is that the chemical filters can be absorbed into the blood and have negative side-effects on the long run. While the jury is still out on this one, those who are worried opt for physical sunscreens with titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, which do not penetrate the skin. These, however, often aren’t as aesthetically pleasing since they leave that white film on your skin and feel a lot stickier.

Liposomal sunscreen seems to solve this problem. It penetrates just below the surface layer so your skin doesn’t feel as sticky, but it doesn’t penetrate beyond this, making it safer.

The thing I am most excited about, however, is the fact that liposomal sunscreens are said to stay effective for longer, so in theory one application a day could be sufficient, depending on whether you’re swimming or sweating a lot. While further studies are being done I still recommend you reapply throughout the day to be safe, but I am certainly optimistic.

What’s a good one to try?

I’ve been trying out the Cetaphil Daylong SPF50+ Liposomal Lotion (R278 for 200ml), which provides high UVA and UVB protection, is water and sweat resistant, and is suitable for sensitive skins.

I’ve been really happy with this product. I found it easy to apply and spread over my body. At first it feels slightly sticky but it absorbs completely in a couple of minutes, leaving your skin feeling soft and comfortable. I also love the fact that the sunscreen has no fragrance. While that classic coconut scent conjures up all sorts of happy summertime memories, it’s not ideal for my sensitive skin.

Choosing a good sunscreen is half the battle won. Below are a few of my top tips for taking care of your skin this summer.

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Top sunscreen tips

Replace last year’s sunscreen. Most sunscreens have a 12 month lifespan so if you bought it last summer, it’s probably gone off by now – meaning it is less effective.

When going on holiday, give your skin time to get use to the sun again. Spend short amounts of time in the sun for the first few days.

Keep out of the sun between 12:00 and 15:00.

Apply sunscreens liberally. You should be using about a tablespoon on your face, neck and chest, and a good handful on your body. Rather be overly generous than stingy. Remember, a burn doesn’t go away after a few days – the long term effects can be detrimental.

Reapply regularly, especially after sweating, swimming or drying off.

Wear a hat to protect your scalp, ears and face, and large sunglasses protect against UVA/UVB rays.

Anything to ask or add? Post them in the comments section below, I would love to hear from you. 

*This post has been sponsored by Cetaphil

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