x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 January 2018

The beauty spy: tips for sun worshippers

You won't see her, but she's there, in the salons, spas and shops, and she's happy to share her secrets on sun cream.

The MAC pro pallete.
The MAC pro pallete.

My English stepson is 17 years old and very tall. But in a crowded room his height is not the first factor that makes him instantly recognisable. It is his red nose.

When he comes to stay with us, I tell him to use sun cream to protect against the powerful UAE sun. "I don't burn," he tells me.

Teenagers are notoriously stupid. But I, too, used to be oblivious to the importance of sun cream. And I had no idea that even in the depths of winter when it is pouring with rain you should wear sun cream to protect your skin.

Elle Macpherson famously said that every morning she puts on her sun cream and then brushes her teeth. This is what you need to do. Even if you are looking out at a sky that is greyer than charcoal, which is unlikely around here. A friend of mine, Tina, is an holistic dermatologist and doesn't even open her curtains before putting on sun cream. And she lives in London where your chances of even seeing the sun are slim. "Don't even go out to hang the washing up without protecting your skin," she told me once. "If you go for a walk in the sun, wear a large hat, and don't ever lie in the sun - you can get tanned in the shade as well."

You need to think of the sun as your enemy. A ferocious monster to be fought on all levels. Your weapons include, first and foremost, sun cream. For my face I use Clinique City Block Sun Protection Factor 25. Then I use a moisturising cream by Dermalogica with an SPF of 15. On top of that I use Laura Mercier Mineral Powder, which also carries an SPF of 15. All this I use on my face, neck and décolletage. Plaster on as many layers of protective creams and make-up as you can.

In my handbag I carry Bioderma sun cream for the face, décolleté and hands. It carries an SPF of 50. I use it on the backs of my hands throughout the day. I use a cheaper brand such as Nivea or something similar for other parts of my body that are exposed to the sun.

Some people use umbrellas here to protect from the sun. I'm thinking of investing in an elegant parasol, maybe in fuchsia pink with tassels. As well as sunglasses. On no account must you squint - that way lies wrinkle hell.

Another weapon is clothes. I have started wearing a silk scarf to protect my décolletage. I see a lot of women here with sun damage to that area, so protect it as you do your face. It's one of those areas that really gives your age away - even more than a bright red nose.


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