We can't stress enough about how important sunscreen is. We truly believe sunscreen should be the #1 skincare product everyone needs for a healthy skin. Sunscreen, Retinol, Vitamin C (in importance order) are the key ingredients in all skincare routines.
Skin care is nothing without sun protection. The sun is the #1 reason for all skin problems ranging from acne, redness, uneven skin tone, hyperpigmentation, pre-mature wrinkles and most importantly, skin cancer.
Sun protection, is the key to preventing skin cancer, painful burns, fine lines and wrinkles, sun spots, and collagen depletion. Without sun protection, you're just wasting money on all sorts of skin care products that promises to fix your skin issues.
Why you need to wear sunscreen every day (rain or shine, indoors or outdoors)
- It protects you from damaging UV rays.
- It helps maintain an even skin tone.
- It prevents premature aging of the skin.
- Lowers your skin cancer risk.
- It keeps you looking young.
What does SPF stand for?
It stands for sun protection factor. It's the measure of how much UV gets through the screen. The higher the number, the less UV passes through. An SPF of 30 allows one-thirtieth or 3.3% of UV to reach your skin.
The SPF numbers you see on a sunscreen bottle refer to protection from ultraviolet B (UVB) rays from the sun. In general, dermatologists recommend using broad spectrum sunscreens with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30.
Higher numbers on labels are more about marketing. In fact, the FDA in United States is proposing a ban on sunscreens that are labeled with an SPF number higher than 50 since there is no scientific evidence showing that they offer any more protection than lower numbers.
What does Broad Spectrum mean?
A term for sunscreens which means it protects against the entire spectrum of ultraviolet rays, including UVA and UVB.
Difference between UVA and UVB rays
UVB rays are the harmful rays from the sun that cause sunburns.
UVA rays are often referred to as the ‘safe rays’ or ‘tanning rays,’
It's important to protect against both types of ultraviolet light because both damage the skin. UVA rays penetrate the skin deeper than UVB rays and can do just as much damage as UVB.
What do PA+++ numbers mean?
PA simply means Protection Grade of UVA rays, which is used to measure the SPF of a sunscreen. This Japanese measurement ranking which is now widely used, is based on the Persistent Pigment Darkening (PPD) reaction reading at 2-4 hours of sun exposure.
Protective grade of sunscreen is often leveled as PA+, PA++, PA+++ with the more plus sign the more protection from UVA rays.
Types of Sunscreens
1. Physical/Mineral Sunscreen
What is it: Contains mineral ingredients such as Zinc Oxide or Titanium Dioxide.How it works: It sits on the skin layer, then reflects away UV rays
- Offers protection against both UVA and UVB rays.
- You skin is protected from the sun as soon as it’s applied; no need to wait before heading outdoors.
- Safe for use on babies and during pregnancy.
- Has a longer shelf life.
- Best for acne-prone skin as it can be less likely to be pore-clogging (of course, this will also depend on the other ingredients used in a formula)
- Great for sensitive skin, heat-activated, easily-reactive skin types. As zinc oxide is anti-inflammatory it is less likely to cause a stinging sensation or irritation on the skin. (like those prone to rosacea and extreme redness)
- Can rub, sweat, or rinse off easily, meaning more frequent reapplication is needed when outdoors
- Can leave a white cast on the skin, making some formulas incompatible with darker skin tones (though tinted formulas are available)
- Can feel heavy under makeup.
- May create an occlusive film (barrier), which results in increased perspiration during physical activities.
- Tends to be thicker, which will require more effort to rub in
- Won’t offer full protection unless applied generously and accurately. Otherwise, UV light can get through gaps in the sunscreen molecules and penetrate the skin.
2. Chemical SunscreenWhat is it: Contains organic compounds such as oxybenzone, octinoxate, octisalate and avobenzone.
How it works: It's absorbed into the skin, then absorbs UV rays and convert it into heat, then releasing that heat from the skin.
- No white cast. Tends to be thinner and, therefore, spreads more easily on the skin, making it more wearable for daily use (especially under makeup)
- Less is needed to protect the skin.
- The formula is easier to add additional treatment ingredients to such as peptides, antioxidants, and enzymes. These can offer additional skin-protecting benefits.
- Can cause stinging if it drips into the eyes from sweating.
- Requires 10 - 15 minutes to become effective after application.
- Reapplication must be more frequent.
- Can possibly cause an increase in existing brown spots and discoloration due to the chemical reaction that increases internal skin temperature (yes, heat can make brown spots worse)
- Depending on the formula, could be pore-clogging (but not necessarily)
- Oxybenzone, commonly used chemical sun protection ingredient can mimic estrogen, interfere with testosterone production and disrupt adrenal hormones.
- Increased chance of irritation and stinging (especially for those who have dry skin with damaged moisture barrier) due to the multiple ingredients combined in order to achieve broad-spectrum UVA and UVB protection
- The higher the SPF (especially formulas of SPF 50 or greater), the higher the risk of irritation for sensitive skin types.
- Increased chance of redness for rosacea-prone skin types because it changes UV rays into heat, which can exacerbate flushing
- The chemical ingredients oxybenzone and octinoxate in water-resistant sunscreens have been banned in Hawaii for posing a risk to coral reefs when worn while swimming in the ocean.
Regardless of what kind of sunscreen you choose to use, the most important factor is that you use it regularly.
How Much Sunscreen Should You Use
As a general rule for lotions and creams, the AAD recommends following the guideline of one ounce, or enough sunscreen to fill a shot glass, and then adjusting from there depending on your body size.
Good To Know
- Use Vitamin C before sunscreen. It has been shown to be more effective at neutralizing free radical damage from sun exposure than just using sunscreen alone.
- Look for 80% physical sunscreen ingredients + 30% chemical ingredients. This way you get the best of both worlds.
- A higher SPF number doesn't necessarily mean a longer protection or higher protection
- Apply generously. You need to apply at least 1 teaspoon amount of sunscreen to fully cover and protect your skin.
- Apply it 15 minutes before going outside
- Reapply every 2 hours.
- Don't rely on sunscreen alone, for maximum protection use a hat, wear long sleeves, avoid being in the sun too long etc.
Our Favourite Sunscreens
Australian Gold Botanical SPF 50, CeraVe Hydrating Sunscreen SPF 30, Elta MD UV Clear SPF 46, Purito Comfy Water Sun Block SPF 50, Ren Clean Screen Mineral SPF 30, MD Solar Sciences Mineral Creme SPF 50.