If There's One Thing You Need...
Skincare regimes have reached peak indulgence – one can consist of simply two products (a cleanser and moisturiser, very low maintenance), or a lavish ten steps (we're talking two cleansers, an essence, a mask, toner, serums, vitamin C powder, moisturisers, SPF, etc). However, with an abundance of products claiming that they're a 'must-have' or 'essential' for a healthy 'ageless' (because we seem to be scared of visual remnants of living) complexion, it's difficult to know what's imperative to your regime.
Of course, everyone's skin is different as we are individuals, however like other aspects of our individuality skin can be categorised, and within each category, the abundance of products grows, but the reality is, there are only three essential skincare products that one truly needs. The first is a cleanser, the second is an active toner, the third is a moisturiser with a good SPF.
As Parisian girl-of-the-moment Jeanne Damas professed, sunscreen is
'the secret to keeping beautiful skin even as you get older.'
One of the most significant causes of skin damage, from wrinkles to dark spots and post-inflammation hyperpigmentation is the sun, so if you want to prevent these things simply block it out.
The saying goes that 'black don't crack', and there are two reasons why black people and people of colour, in general, do not wrinkle as much as their fairer counterparts; the first is melanin. The more melanin you have the more natural protection you have from the sun, resulting in less sun damage and wrinkles. The second is a gene that slows down the ageing process and is more common in black women, and people of colour (but since we can't change genetics let's focus on the first point).
Melanin is the body's natural shield from the sun and its damages, most people are aware of the need for sunscreen in unforgiving summer rays, however, UV rays are penetrating the skin and causing their damage throughout the year, (they're also causing damage to your eyes, read C'est Chic? C'est Freak? Sunglasses Minus Sunshine) particularly if you live in a city with increased pollution or smog. Therefore, sunscreen should be worn throughout the year, particularly if your skin is fairer than a dark olive tone, though those with olive skin tones or darker would still benefit from an SPF integrated skincare regime but in smaller doses, because as stated above sunscreen is a skincare essential.
How, Where, When?
The easiest way to wear sunscreen is by using a moisturiser that's enriched with a good SPF, and by good I mean SPF 30+, though anyone with fairer skin or who can be prone to hyperpigmentation or redness should wear nothing short of SPF 50 daily, (particularly on sunny days).
SPF integrated moisturisers usually feel and wear like any other moisturiser and will keep your skincare regime fuss-free.
SPF Enhanced Moisturisers
However, if you use a moisturiser, be that a cream or face oil, that's packed with active ingredients, it probably won't have the added benefits of SPF. In this case, SPF becomes a skincare step within itself, but there's an abundance of SPF creams, gels, etc, that won't leave the unsightly white cast that is typically produced, and makes this extra step effortless. The millennials holy grail brand Glossier launched a clear gel SPF that can be worn by any skin tone with ease, alternatively, some sunscreens will fill in the step of a primer, tinted moisturiser or sheer coverage foundation.
Stand Alone SPF
Lastly, the body. Since our 90% of the body is covered with clothing during the cooler months sunscreen isn't really needed. Coconut oil contains small doses of natural SPF so is great if you want a bit of all over protection, however sunscreen for the body isn't essential unless you're in the sun. However certain parts of the body, such as the hands and neck should be considered if ageing is something that you want to prevent or hide, meaning that you should use SPF in these areas. The skincare used on the face should be used on the body as a general rule, as the skin in these areas is similar, but for the hands, there are a plethora of hand creams that are infused with SPF so you can have all bases covered.