Another summer is nearly over—but my search for an awesome sunscreen is not. Why is it so hard to settle on sun protection? I find the vague verbiage plastered on the squishy white tubes and fluorescent tin cans of the stuff make it hard to decode which ingredients work best for my skin type and tone.
In the end, I tend to opt for physical sunscreens (the thick, pasty ones that start working immediately when applied to the skin) more often than chemical versions (these offer more coverage but need to be applied at least 30 minutes before heading out)—but overly thick formulas annoy me because they tend to leave a dreadful looking white film on my tanned skin.
I’m excited that there’s now a newer option—one that might just be the best of both sunscreen worlds—to consider. It’s a sunscreen made with an ingredient called Niacinamide. You’ve seen zinc and titanium oxides hailed as skin’s protectors in the past. Now Niacinamide, which is derived from the Vitamin B3 family, is getting lots of attention in dermatology circles. In fact, I’m willing to bet it becomes the next anti-aging SPF superstar. Here’s why:
According to those in the know, Niacinamide is known to reduce fine lines and wrinkles, break up hyper-pigmented spots, decrease red blotches and skin sallowness (yellowing), and increase skin’s elasticity. Dr. Elizabeth Tanzi (a lecturer on cosmetic dermatology and co-director of the Washington Institute of Dermatologic Laser Surgery in Washington, D.C.) says, “If your skin is red or sensitive, choose a sunscreen with anti-inflammatory ingredients. Niacinamide acts an anti-inflammatory agent, which is helpful in a sunscreen as the sun causes a high degree of inflammation.” The ingredient could have its biggest breakthrough in L.A., where we’re eternally in search of perfect, pore-free skin.
So how can you get it? Eve Lom (a British brand favored by Kate Middleton) has launched Daily Protection + SPF 50 ($90) made with the ingredient. “Here the Niacinamide helps calm and protect sensitive skin types prone to acne, rosacea and post-inflammatory discoloration, which can give you age spots,” says Dr. Tanzi. “I particularly like this formulation since it also has lactic acid, which has great (but gentle) exfoliating properties. Not only do you get the benefits of a protective sunscreen, but you also get the pluses of a therapeutic antioxidant day cream.”
I tried the stuff myself, and the SPF didn’t make me break out. Knowing every inch of my exposed skin is protected with Niacinamide helped me feel better about skipping my usual moisturizer, as the cream is hydrating enough for the day. It goes on smoothly and absorbs pretty much immediately, leaving a slightly matte finish. If that isn’t enough to convince you that it’s an essential (and chic) beauty staple, you should know that a mid-day oil slick never popped up on my skin, either. Don’t balk at the price; the tube is larger than most sunscreens you see out at department stores.
A native Angeleno, Navdeep Mundi is a Leo, hates cilantro, and has studied beauty products for more than 18 years. She spends her days directing media and strategy and her nights sniffing out slightly quirky yet impeccably pretty things along with her German Shepherd, Le Tigre.