A complete guide on choosing a sunscreen, what SPF means and which one you need, why broad-spectrum sunscreen is essential, the difference between mineral and chemical sunscreen, and how to apply sunscreen… The only thing scarier than photoaging when it comes to our skin is skin cancer. Of course, we all want to remain healthy and young for as long as possible. As a result, it is critical to protect our skin from UV rays every day of the year, especially during the summer. But, if you go to a drugstore right now and try to find a sunscreen that will suit your needs, you may find yourself in a state of disbelief.
Should you use a mineral sunscreen or a chemical sunscreen? Is it better to use lotion, powder, or a stick? Which SPF should I use? How long will it keep you safe? Is it going to clog your pores and cause breakouts? And how do you apply sunscreen correctly? I’ll try to answer at least some of your questions and assist you in making your decision here.
WHAT EXACTLY IS SPF?
SPF (sun protection factor) can be challenging to define. The simplest explanation is as follows: SPF is a metric that indicates how well the sunscreen protects your skin from the sun. The SPF number represents the percentage of UVB rays that the sunscreen can block. SPF 15 sunscreen, for example, will block 93 per cent of UVB rays while allowing only 7 per cent to reach the skin. SPF 30 will block 97 per cent of UVB rays while allowing 3 per cent to pass through, and so on. Though this may appear to be a minor distinction, keep in mind that SPF 30 will block approximately half of the UVB rays that would pass through SPF 15.
The more UVB rays that reach your skin, the faster it turns red, burns, and becomes damaged. As a result, the SPF number also indicates how much longer it takes for your skin to turn red in the sun when compared to when you do not wear sunscreen. So, if your skin turns red in 10 minutes, it will turn red in 15 x 10 = 150 minutes with SPF 15. With SPF 30, it will turn red in 5 hours (30 x 10 = 300 minutes), and so on. This does not imply that you can apply SPF 30 sunscreen and stay in the sun for 5 hours! You should still reapply sunscreen every 2 hours and stay out of the sun as much as possible.
USE A BROAD-SPECTRUM SUNSCREEN TO PROTECT FROM BOTH UVB AND UVA.
The SPF value of your sunscreen can give you an idea of how protective it is. SPF only refers to UVB ray protection. As a result, look for a sunscreen labelled as broad-spectrum, which means it protects your skin from UVB and UVA rays. UVB and UVA rays are both harmful to your skin and have been linked to skin cancer. UVB rays are also known to cause sunburn. UVA rays blame premature ageing signs on the skin, such as wrinkles, fine lines, and dark spots. Sunscreen with a broad spectrum protects your skin from both UVB and UVA rays. It would be best to use it every day of the year, no matter how sunny or cloudy the weather is.
SUNSCREENS MINERAL AND CHEMICAL
One of the most important questions to ask yourself when selecting sunscreen is whether you want your sunscreen to be mineral or chemical.
Sunscreens with minerals
Mineral sunscreens (physical sunscreens) contain zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. These active mineral compounds protect your skin from UV rays by sitting on top of your skin and physically deflecting them. Mineral sunscreen is a better option if you have sensitive skin, rosacea, or easily flushed skin. It is also less likely to clog your pores than chemical sunscreen, making it ideal for acne and blemish-prone skin.
Mineral sunscreen begins protecting your skin as soon as it is applied, so you don’t have to worry about forgetting to use it 20 minutes before leaving the house. Another significant advantage is that, unlike chemical sunscreens, they can apply mineral sunscreen over makeup. This makes reapplying much easier – brush on some sun-protective mineral powder every two hours. Mineral sunscreens have the most drawbacks in that they are thick, chalky, and can leave a whitish cast on the skin. As a result, they are somewhat impractical for day-to-day use.
Organic ingredients, such as oxybenzone or avobenzone, are used in chemical sunscreens. They cause a chemical reaction, which converts UV rays to heat. The heat is then released from your skin. Chemical sunscreens appear and feel more natural on the skin because they are lighter in weight than mineral sunscreens. They are also easier to wear under makeup, making them ideal for everyday wear. It takes 10 – 30 minutes for it to start working after you apply it. You can’t just reapply chemical sunscreen over your makeup because it has to be the first thing that goes on your skin (before moisturizer, makeup, etc.). Furthermore, if you have brown spots or discolourations on your skin, chemical sunscreens can aggravate them.
WHAT TYPE OF SUNSCREEN SHOULD WE USED?
Another question you’ll have to answer is what form you want your sunscreen to take. Sunscreens are available in lotion, gel, spray, stick, powder, and oil forms these days. This is dependent on your preferences and what works best for you. Try as many as you can. It may take some time to find your perfect match, but we’re talking about a product you should use every day, so the effort is well worth it. The majority of people prefer lightweight moisturizing lotion sunscreens. I hope you’ll find a high-quality sun protection lotion that blends in so well with your skin that you can’t tell it’s there and doesn’t make your face look too shiny. The issue with spray sunscreens is that most people do not apply enough to provide adequate protection.
Furthermore, sprays are frequently applied inconsistently. Oils can be too heavy and shiny for daily use. Sticks can be very comedogenic, and you usually need to apply 3–4 layers to get enough.
HOW TO APPLY SUNSCREEN PROPERLY
There are minor differences in when and how you should apply sunscreen depending on its form and texture. That is why it is always best to follow the label’s instructions. What they all have in common is that you should apply sunscreen to clean skin. Otherwise, the sunscreen will trap all the sebum and bacteria for the rest of the day. This rule is brutal to follow when you need to apply sunscreen later, especially if you’re wearing makeup. But, at the very least, start early in the morning and wash everything off as soon as you’re done with the sun for the day. One of the most asked questions is whether to apply sunscreen over or under your makeup.
After washing your face, you should use your face cream, followed by sunscreen (if it is mineral). Allow your skin about 10 minutes to absorb each product before applying the next. But, as before stated, mineral sunscreens can be chalky and look unappealing under makeup. Chemical sunscreen is challenging to use during the day because it must be the first thing to contact your skin. It is also critical to apply enough sunscreen; otherwise, it will not work as well as it should. To cover the entire body, an average adult would need approximately six teaspoons of sunscreen.
A FEW MORE THINGS TO THINK ABOUT
Sunscreen is an excellent skincare product. It shields your skin from the damaging effects of UV rays and aids in preventing skin cancer. It is an excellent product that you should use every day of the year—both on sunny and overcast days. Whether you’re going to the beach or taking a short walk to work, it may take some time to find a sunscreen that is entirely suitable for you, but that time will be well spent if you end up with your ideal product. So, make sure to test out as many products and combinations as possible until you are satisfied with your choice. Aside from sun protection, make sure to choose a sunscreen that is appropriate for your skin type and lifestyle.
Last but not least, sunscreen, no matter how high quality, is not a magical shield. When you’re out and about, you still need to be responsible. Wear plenty of protective clothing, a hat, and sunglasses, especially during the summer months. And, of course, try to avoid the sun as much as possible.