Choosing a great sunscreen that fits all of your needs doesn’t have to be overwhelming or impossible. Read this handy guide – the only sunscreen guide you’ll ever need – to learn which sunscreens won’t leave a white cast, will suit your skin type best, the difference between physical vs. chemical sunscreens and how to reapply sunscreens (even over your makeup!!!) throughout the day.
You need to wear sunscreen every single day. THAT’S RIGHT, EVERY SINGLE DAY. Protecting yourself from UVA and UVB rays will help prevent painful sunburns, wrinkles, sun spots, hyperpigmentation, sagging, etc. Most importantly, it will protect you from melanoma which is the deadlinest cancer out there.
Physical Sunscreens vs. Chemical Sunscreens
Physical sunscreens which are also referred to as “mineral sunscreens” provide a shield for skin. Sadly, due to them being formulated with finely powdered minerals such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, they can leave you looking like Ashy Larry.
They are highly effective though as they block UV radiation by reflecting it away from the body – providing protection against both UVA and UVB light.
If you have sensitive skin, opt for a physical sunscreen containing titanium dioxide or those formulated for babies.
Chemical Sunscreens reduce the penetration of ultraviolet radiation by the skin. They contain active ingredients such as octinoxate, octocrylene, octisalate and oxybenzone. They may also include homosalate and avobenzone.
These chemicals act as filters – taking the hit from the sun for you. Generally, they absorb well and don’t interfere with makeup as they don’t pill. They can be a little irritating though for those with sensitive or dry, dehydrated skin.
The Golden Sunscreen Rule – SPF 30
Always wear at least SPF 30. The Skin Cancer Foundation states that sunscreens with an SPF of 15 or higher do an excellent job protecting against UVB when applied properly.
Types of Sunscreens
Sunscreens are typically available on the market in three different formats: sprays, lotions and sticks.
Sprays are great for protecting those hard to reach spots like your back. They are also perfect for those on the – ahem – hairier side. Be sure not to inhale while applying!
Spray sunscreens are also great for those looking to reapply throughout the day over makeup. Try out Kate Sommerville’s UncompliKated SPF 50 – a great spray sunscreen that doubles as a makeup setting spray. Vichy Liftactiv Specialist SPF 30 Anti-Aging Cream can be applied over makeup using a Beauty Blender.
The most common on the market, lotions are easy to apply and tend to be very hydrating. They are offered in many different formulations for all sorts of skin types. Again, pay attention to physical vs chemical choices…especially if you are dark-skinned and have issues with formulations making you look bluish-purple! Sun Bum products are stellar at providing sun protection and smell like heaven.
Personally, I LOVE SUNSCREEN STICKS. They are portable, less messy and great for protecting lips, the backs of your hands and feet. This is due to them being a little heavier and almost “waxy”, therefore they survive watersports and sweating well. Vichy Idéal Soleil SPF 60 Stick is great for sensitive skin and for staying put. Sun Bum Sunscreen Lip Balm is a must for a day on the beach. May I recommend the Banana flavour? AMAZING.
Best Sunscreens for Acne-Prone or Sensitive Skin
If you have acne-prone skin, look for oil-free options and better yet, sunscreens containing niacinamide such as Elta MD UV Clear SPF 46. Niacinamide is fantastic at reducing acne and lightening hyperpigmentation.
If you suffer from dry skin, look for hydrating facial moisturizers containing at least SPF 30.
If you have sensitive skin, choose sunscreens with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. They sit on top of skin and form a protective barrier protecting you from harmful rays.
If Sunscreen Stings Your Eyes…
…again, choose a sunscreen with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. These chemicals do not sting or aggravate sensitive eyes. They also adhere better to skin than other sunscreens made with chemicals such as octyl methoxycinnamate, therefore won’t run as readily into your eyes.
Try using a hat or headband too if you are working out outside under the sun. This can greatly reduce sunscreen mixing with sweat and running into your peepers. La Roche Posay’s Anthelios 60 XL is a wonderful option for those with sensitive skin.
Sunscreen Rules To Live By
- Always wear sunscreen all year round – including the winter months.
- Don’t forget the backs of your hands, tops of feet, back of your neck and your ears!
- Two tablespoons of sunscreen lotion should cover you adequately if you are wearing a bathing suit/bikini. If you choose to use a spray, be sure to spray your body evenly.
- Apply your sunscreen 30 minutes before sun exposure! This gives the sunscreen a chance to absorb well for maximum protection.
- Reapply your sunscreen every two hours.
- Always reapply your sunscreen after swimming, sweating and towelling off.
- Wear a wide-brimmed hat while out in the sun.
- Use broad-spectrum sunglasses.
- If you can, avoid the sun between 10am and 2pm.
- Pay attention to the daily UV index. You will burn without sun protection on a cloudy day!
- Sunscreens last on average for three years. Be sure to replace them within that timeframe.
Be sure to share The Only Sunscreen Guide You’ll Ever Need with your friends!