What You NEED To Know About Sunscreen

I have a couple of pet topics and one of them is no other than sunscreen. Every Summer since this blog has existed I’ve tried to post a reminder about the importance of SPF (‘sun protection factor’). Every year my knowledge has also broaden and while the older posts are still useful (there are some product reviews included), I think I’ve managed to gather some good and updated information for you.

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You NEED To Wear an SPF

If there’s one thing to take away from this post, it’s this no-nonsense advice: wear your sunscreen. Every day of the year, even if it’s cloudy. On overcast days, only visible Sun rays are blocked, but you still are at the risk of getting sun damage, which causes about 80% of visible signs of ageing. It’s not only for aesthetic reasons, but by wearing sunscreen you also reduce the risk of getting skin cancer. No sunscreen provides 100% protection against UV radiation, there’s always some that will reach your skin, damaging the cells below. This damage builds up over time, which can increase your risk of skin cancers. Wear sunscreen every day!

How To Apply Sunscreen

What’s the best sunscreen for you? The kind you use. I’m repeating myself here, I know. Some people detest the physical sunscreens that might have a slight flashback or a white cast right when applied. If you’re hesitant then try several types: sprays, liquids and creams. The most important point is to apply and apply enough. SPF alone in makeup is not enough to protect you, as you won’t apply a sufficient amount.

As I’m not a dermatologist and sunscreen textures vary, I cannot say a certain amount for each sunscreen, but for the face and neck I’d aim to apply 1/2 teaspoon. I personally use a physical, very creamy type of a sunscreen: I dot it on my face and neck and massage gently until the product has absorbed and there is no white cast. Remember to reapply sunscreen every few hours if you’re in sunlight and immediately after swimming or sweating.

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Understand Sun Protection Factor

Studies over the years have shown that sun protection factors and actual protection percentage from ultraviolet rays don’t go hand in hand: SPF 60 is not double the protection of SPF 30. SPF15 means ~93% of UV rays are blocked, SPF30 blocks 97% and SPF50 98%. Above SPF50 the added protection is fairly miniscule, but the cosmetic properties of the sunscreen might be compromised (thicker, whiter texture).

You also need to check your sunscreen had both UVA and UVB rating. If your sunscreen says it’s “Broad Spectrum”, it means the product offers both UVA and UVB protection.

You might have seen that after the SPF and number there are products labeled with “PA” and plus ratings. PA grading system was established in Japan and is meant to inform about the level of protection from UVA rays. Always choose a product with PA+++ (or more) to get the best protection from UVA.

Susncreen and Vitamin D Absorbation

Vitamin D is produced by the body when the skin is hit by UVB rays. Theoretically, sunscreen use may lower the Vitamin D, but according to Harvard Health Publishing very few people wear enough sunscreen to block all UVB light. Where your live, skin color, weight, age, etc. also affects on Vitamin D absorption, so it’s safer to get sufficient amount of Vitamin D from food or supplements.

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What To Know About Physical And ‘Chemical’ UV Filters

I use the term physical and ‘chemical’ to demonstrate the differences in these UV filters, but some people may refer it as “natural/organic/mineral” and “synthetic” and so on. Physical sunscreens protect your skin from the Sun by blocking or deflecting the UV rays while chemical sunscreen absorb them. Physical UV filters are Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide, which are generally stable and safe sunscreen filters that don’t cause free radicals.

The issue in chemical UV filters is that some may irritate the skin and they have to be applied 15-20 minutes before being exposed to sun. On the other hand chemical UV filters are often cosmetically elegant: runny, light, colorless and odorless. Physical UV filters are thick, opaque and in some cases harder to apply if they leave a white cast. Some people are prone for breaking out from physical or chemical filters, so always patch test if you’re unsure if the product is suitable for you.

I personally only aim to use physical sunscreens, but for everyone I encourage you to avoid using oxybenzone and octinoxate as they damage reefs and have adverse health risks to humans and environment.

Read More About SPF on The Blog

Best Sunscreens For Summer 2018
What You Need To Know About Sun Care (2016)
My Sunscreen Reminder (and Innisfree Review)

Do you wear sunscreen every day?