When I was a teen, little was known about the effects of the sun on the skin. The whole look back in the 80s was pastel or neon tops, blinding-white teeth and mahogany tans (see any Duran Duran video). Sun block? Maybe on ski holidays, but otherwise it was all about speed-tanning, ie frying yourself in oil on day one of your holiday so you wouldn’t look like the awkward pink Brit.
I hate to admit it to myself, but I even did a fair few sunbeds back in the day. Like many of my early lifestyle choices, I prefer to pretend this never happened. Unlike fashion or hair faux-pas, they can come back to haunt you, albeit in a more Grim Reaper manner.
At 50, my skin isn’t as leathery as I feared and sun damage, according to a recent skin consultation, is remarkably minimal. But I ain’t taking any more chances. Every skin expert will tell you that sun damage is one of the primary causes of ageing skin, so I have stepped up my SPF skincare in the past few years, especially as I love being outdoors.
After trawling through online sites seeking the ultimate SPF moisturisers, I chanced upon a totally different approach by French skincare company Caudalie.
The Vinoperfect Suncare Duo Set (£46) contains an Anti-Wrinkle Face Suncare moisturiser with SPF 50 plus the Vinoperfect Radiance Serum that corrects dark spots. The Vinoperfect Serum is £46 normally, so the sunscreen is a free gift!
I really like the idea of anti-ageing ingredients reversing earlier sun damage beneath a safe layer of protection which will prevent future damage. The other bonus is they work perfectly well together, so you don’t have to worry about certain chemicals in your serum reacting or counteracting chemicals in your sunscreen.
I also ordered the Beautifying Suncare Oil SPF 30 (£21, 150ml) for my body – if I am going to use it while sea swimming, I like the fact it is biodegradable and has removed all chemical filters known to be toxic to the marine environment.
Caudalie’s rather romantic USP is that their main ingredients are extracted from vines and grapes in the husband-and-wife owners’ French vineyard. Grape seed polyphenols are powerful antioxidants, while it’s the resveratrol in vines that enables them to live for 100 years. Women working on the vines had noticed the sap running through the vine stalks faded dark spots on the hands and face, which is how the molecule Viniferine ended up in their Vinoperfect Radiance Serum. They claim it is 62 times more effective than Vitamin C.
My editor has been to the Caudalie Vinothérapie Spa, so using their products is the next best thing: if the Spa Spy can’t go to France, then France must come – bottled – to the Spa Spy.
The duo comes packaged together: the serum is in a 30ml glass bottle with a pipette and the cream in a classic yellow sunscreen tube. The serum is egg-white smooth and light – three drops cover my skin perfectly. It has a subtle, blossom-y fragrance.
The sun-cream is substantial: you need very little. The scent is not one of its charms, but it sinks in quickly and leaves my skin feeling smooth and hydrated. After a short while, the sheen disappears, and I feel no need to add another layer of foundation – a concealer maybe if I was going somewhere fancy.
The Beautifying Suncare Oil comes – conversely – in a plastic bottle but is the most delightfully scented sun oil I have ever used. Make sure you spray it into your hands rather than directly onto your body otherwise you might skid on the bathroom floor. If you don’t like oil, they do cream, too.
Does it work?
I have been using the duo daily for three weeks. My skin feels hydrated all day long, and the suncare tube fits neatly into my handbag to top-up on hot days. I felt unsure about not using a tinted BB SPF, but in summer as your skin darkens naturally, it makes sense. I have noticed a more even skin tone and my dark spots have faded slightly over the three weeks. Wrinkle-wise all looks consistently better than normal. Tan-wise I have a healthy golden glow with no burns, even on my usually ruby-red cheeks and décolletage. And this is after spending a lot of time outdoors, horse-riding and sea-swimming.
Equally I was dubious about using a sun oil, it seemed a bit too much like an 80s throwback. But I love this the most: it smells of summer meadows, feels silky and my skin has been drinking it in.
At my age, I don’t feel I can scrimp on skincare products, and I want my SPF to be for-real. The Vinoperfect Suncare Duo is a bargain, and my skin looks and feels great. Normally I might not have gone with an SPF as high as 50, but I am glad I did. It feels reassuring and my skin is already thanking me. The serum-plus-sun cream is a new approach for me, but it works and makes (vino)perfect sense. I’ll drink to that!
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