Do you find yourself go what! when? how!!? and why? to all the information out there about sunscreen?
Well one thing for sure, you are not alone. After all, there is only 43% of people in a small survey knew what SPF means.
And only 7% knew what factor to look for in a sunscreen for preventing anti-aging!
And I get your concern.
What type of sunscreen should I get? Is natural sunscreen better than a chemical one? What is SPF?
In this simple sunscreen guide, I will answer all your burning (no pun attended) questions.
Why use sunscreen?
When it is properly used, sunscreen can:
- Lower your risk of getting skin cancer
- Prevent premature aging
What do SPF and Broad-Spectrum mean?
To answer this question, you will need to know the 2 types of UV rays: UVA and UVB.
UVB is the one that causes sunburn and plays a role in developing skin cancer.
However, the culprit that is associated with causing aging and pigmentation in your skin is UVA.
The term broad-spectrum indicates the sunscreen is capable of protecting you from both the UV rays.
SPF or Sun Protection Factor tells you how long it will take for your skin to get red from the UVB ray in comparison to when you don’t wear any sunscreen.
For instance, if you use an SPF of 50, ideally it will take 50 minutes longer to burn than if you weren’t wearing any sunscreen.
Types of sunscreen
There are 2 types of sunscreen; physical and chemical. You may have heard the terms thrown around, but what do they mean?
Well, physical sunscreen (also called mineral or natural) has active mineral ingredients such as titanium dioxide or zinc oxide that reflect and scatter damaging UV rays away from the skin.
- Offers both UVA and UVB protection
- Less likely to cause skin irritation
- Works immediately when applied
- Tend to leave a white cast on the skin
- Can be rinsed off easily, not very water-resistant and sweat-resistant
- UV lights can still penetrate in through the sunscreen to the skin if not applied generously and accurately
Protection: Available in both SPF 30+ and 50+ and Broad-Spectrum
Type: Physical sunscreen
Bonus: lightweight and provides a nice matte finish
Chemical sunscreen contains organic compounds, such as oxybenzone and avobenzone that changes UV rays into heat, then releasing that heat from the skin.
- Tends to be thinner, more ideal for daily use
- Does not leave a white cast
- Require less amount of sunscreen.
- Require 20 minute waiting time to be effective
- Require more frequent application when in direct UV light
- It can be irritating to sensitive skin and rosacea-prone skin types.
Protection: SPF 70+ and broad-spectrum
Type: Chemical sunscreen
Bonus: Great for sensitive skin
Physical or Chemical?
Well…. It depends on your skin type.
Is your skin easily irritated? Then you have to find a sunscreen that is for sensitive skin.
Do you have an oilier skin type? Then a more light-weight, less greasy sunscreen will fit you better.
There is no one size fits all solution and it can take a while to find what works for you. Each type has its pros and cons so take them all into consideration and choose which one you need more.
How to get that full coverage
1. Choose a broad-spectrum, SPF 30+ and water-resistant sunscreen
I know it has been said but it’s often forgotten.
2. Apply sunscreen before going out + reapply every 2 hours
This applies even you are using a physical sunscreen. It takes at least 15 minutes for your skin to completely absorbs the product.
Your sunscreen loses its protective power as time passes, so remember to put some on after every 2 hours.
However, you need to reapply immediately after swimming or excessive sweating.
Water-resistant sunscreen will lose a bit of its magic when it is in contact with water, so watch out for that!
3. Apply sunscreen to parts of your body that are not covered by clothing
This includes your face, neck, ears, your arms and any part that is exposed to the sun.
For face: you will need around a nickel-sized dollop.
For the whole body: you will need around 1 ounce of sunscreen, so enough to fill a shot glass.
4. Don’t forget protective clothing and gears
The general rule is the more skin your outfit covers, the better the protection. Densely woven cloth, like denim, wool, synthetic fibers are better at protecting you than sheer and thin ones.
Hats, sunglasses are also needed, so don’t forget those.
Get a hat that has a brim of at least 3 inches wide to protect your face, neck, scalp, and shoulders.
For sunglasses, look for a pair of sunglasses that will block 99-100 percent of UV radiation, protecting the eye, eyelid and surrounding areas.
5. Seek the shade
UV rays are most potent around 10 am to 4 pm. Try your best to be in the shade around that time to avoid getting sun damage.
Happy shooing the sun!