Hannah Betts: Trust me, sunscreen is the anti-ager that really works

Hannah Betts’s Better…not younger: Trust me, sunscreen is the anti-ager that really works

  • Hannah Betts uses Factor 50 sunscreen between April and October  
  • New beauty columnist reveals a selection of the best heatwave cosmetics 
  • Chooses Bernard Chant’s classic Aromatics Elixir as this week’s craving  

People are always kindly informing me that I’ve got good skin. I used to say: ‘Thanks, it’s Bobbi Brown’s,’ given I was never without the make-up guru’s foundation. These days I just explain I’m a vampire.

I am pale. So pale that Kate Moss’s ex Pete Doherty once informed me that I was the most sickly looking individual he had ever encountered. Yes, the nation’s most famous former heroin addict deemed me deathly.

Two decades on, it’s pasty payback time, as I am routinely mistaken for being younger than my 50 years. Three times I have been mistaken for my younger sister’s daughter.

For nothing ages you like the sun — no stress, no diet, no years of hard living — and sunscreen is the only proven anti-ageing product. I have never understood women who will spend any money on beauty treatments, only to nuke themselves come summer.

UK-based beauty columnist Hannah Betts says sunscreen is the only proven anti-ageing product and explains why she uses Factor 50 between April and October (file image)

Stress, smoking and sugar age us, but sun is the worst culprit: 90 per cent of skin ravaging is attributable to sun exposure. But it’s never too late to shield yourself.

Moreover, given the extra sensitivity to the sun that comes with hormonal fluctuations and retinol use — one of the most popular anti-ageing ingredients in face serum — middle-aged women can find themselves particularly exposed.

A high factor in your moisturiser or foundation is not enough, while sunscreen requires a generous half teaspoon to cover the face and neck, and more for the hands and decolletage. Use it or lose it, sisters.

I sport Factor 30 merely when sitting at my desk in winter. From now on this will be the bargain that is Hawaiian Tropics’ new Mineral Skin Nourishing Facial Milk SPF30 (£8, boots.com).

Light in feel, hefty in coverage, its 100 per cent mineral actives reflect UVA and UVB rays off the skin without parabens or chemical filters, making it brilliant for those prone to acne, eczema, rosacea or heat rash. It doesn’t clog pores or destroy coral reefs, doesn’t stink of coconut, and makes a beautiful base for make-up.

Between April and October, I up my game to a Factor 50. Although protection does not increase exponentially as the SPF goes up — an SPF30 will protect from almost 97 per cent of UVB rays; an SPF50, 98 per cent — I know that, once my face is in place, I won’t be too virtuous about reapplying.

Technology has moved on since my teens, when high SPF meant a petrol-blue gunk that gave skin a sheen akin to that of a dead fish. These days, it’s all about the finish of your dreams.

If I want my make-up to look fabulous, I’ll wear La Mer’s The SPF 50 UV Protecting Fluid (£88, john lewis.com), or a gorgeous Factor 50 by a beauty brand such as Guerlain, Chanel or La Prairie.

Hannah (pictured) said hair also benefits from some sun protection, revealing she has been impressed by reviews for Michael Van Clarke’s 3 More Inches LifeSaver UV Leave-in Styling Treatment

However, the company I return to year after year for everyday protection is French pharmacy stalwart La Roche-Posay, seen as the purveyor of the world’s most reliable sunscreens.

Abroad, I’ll wear its Anthelios Age Correct SPF50+ (£18.75, boots.com), which reduces the look of dark spots and feels like a fancy face cream. Already damaged skin could not do better.

In Blighty, I might rely on its Anthelios Invisible Fluid SPF50+ (£13.50) — and there’s a tinted version, too. For top-ups, I’ll blast Anthelios Invisible Spray SPF50+ (£15) over my war paint.

I try to remember to use some sort of lip guard, too. Of late, I have been carting about Piz Buin Moisturising Sun Lipstick With Aloe Vera SPF30 (£4.39, superdrug.com).

Hair will also benefit from some protection. I’m impressed by reviews for Michael Van Clarke’s 3 More Inches LifeSaver UV Leave-in Styling Treatment (£24.50, vanclarke.com). It conditions, styles and protects without the oiliness of traditional shields. A favourite of curly girls and fine-haired females alike.

If I have to be outside when the sun is strongest, I’ll also don a hat. In the past, M&S has done excellent SPF50 fedoras, but this year the only one I could find had been discontinued.

In spring, Instagram exhorted me to buy a Summer Sunscreen Ladies Beach Straw Hat from a U.S. supplier (£14.54, newin house.com) and I’m extremely glad it did. Blocking 99 per cent of UV rays, it is light, adjustable, washable, squashable and suitably Audrey Hepburn.


What did Bobbi Brown do after selling her firm? She set up Jones Road. Previously only available in the U.S., the brand has just arrived here. Miracle Balm (£34) is its smash hit, but its Face Pencil concealer (£23, right) is what I’ve been dreaming of. It comes in 25 shades and deftly covers spots (age or otherwise).




Sharon Stone, 63, (pictured) said she wears a little less make-up and more jewellery 

Nearly three decades since flashing her undercarriage in Basic Instinct, Sharon Stone, 63, rocked a dress with a thigh-high split at Cannes. On ageing, she’s said: ‘I thought: “You have to change the way you are looking. OK, I’m going to wear a little less make-up and more jewellery.” ’


The majority of new scents fail to stay on the shelf for 18 months. But perfumer Bernard Chant’s classic Aromatics Elixir (£26 for 10ml, clinique.co.uk) celebrates its 50th birthday this year.

Complex, uncompromising, and great in every sense, the fragrance has acquired a cult following — even its matching body lotion (£33) is legendary.

Aromatherapeutic with notes of rose, jasmine, ylang ylang and vetiver and an incense-rich base, it tends to sell well at Christmas, yet I love it in the summer when it smoulders on the skin.


Fitness Cryosphere Cold Massage Roller is a ball I keep in the freezer and use to depuff my face.


Sisley Eye Contour Mask is a fridge essential that counteracts sore eyes. One tube lasts an age.


Balance Me Hyaluronic Plumping Mist, calms, hydrates, and alleviates hot flushes.


 iolage Advanced KeratinDose Damage Care Renewal Spray is an outstanding hair conditioner that I use constantly to soften, style and de-frizz.


Mitchum Women Unscented Anti-Perspirant & Deodorant dries in seconds and offers protection from sweating for up to 48 hours.


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