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?

My Winter Morning Skincare Routine

I was watching some Youtubers sharing their skincare routines and thought it’d be fun to share my current go-to routine. Part of the fun is looking back my older routines and what products I’ve been reaching for. My routines are always a mix of “must-haves” and products I’m testing for a review - some of them will end up on the blog again and again while some might be left forgotten.. I recommend using the search and tag tools if you’re looking for a particular product review. Gifted products are marked with an asterisk (*). Also, say hi to Cara, my ~15-week-old maine coon kitten. <3

Winter AM Skincare Routine | Laura Loukola Beauty Blog

Current skincare goals / Concerns

My skin did pretty good before November, but as the month changed I swear to you my skin turned a) dry as a parchment paper b) my under eyes darker than darkness. Winters in Helsinki are partly freezing cold, windy and partly just annoyingly rainy, while there’s central heating indoors. Right now my biggest concerns are dehydration and evening out my complexion. I had a grand zit after the holidays and it left noticeable redness behind. Lightening my old acne scaring is always an on-going process, but sometimes I pay less attention on it. My final concerns are some blackheads on my nose (which this routine doesn’t target as much, I do opt for stronger acids from time to time).

Winter AM Skincare Routine | Laura Loukola Beauty Blog
Winter AM Skincare Routine | Laura Loukola Beauty Blog

My AM Routine

My “beauty sin” is to wash my face in the shower. Fortunately I dislike long and hot showers, so I’m out of there pretty quickly before my skin turns into a worse raisin than it already is. In the shower I have a couple of cleanser options, but lately I’ve been liking the Glope Hope Cosmetics Cleansing Gel* (33.1€ / 150ml). It feels mild and gentle, perfect for AM routine. The INCI list is short and simple: packed with cornflower water, aloe and hydrating glycerine. In the evenings I tend to reach for more heavy duty cleansers.

Next is the one and only - Januarylabs Daily Brightening Tonic (Cult Beauty* 29.7€ / 150ml) (review here). I think I was sent one back when this launched, then I purchased another, then another.. I can’t begin to imagine my life without it. Because of the packaging I feel the easiest application method is to pour some on a cotton pad and gently swipe face and neck. This multi-purpose toner both retains moisture and gently resurfaces the skin with lactic acid. I can highly recommend this to everyone!

After the Tonic I apply an essence. I had a small break with essences, only to notice how much I miss it. My friend Marinka was kind enough to shop for me during her travels and top 1. in my wish list was the Fresh Black Tea Kombucha Facial Treatment Essence (69.53€ / 150ml). I had seen some positive reviews on Fresh and not gonna lie, the kombucha trend did encourage me to pick this one up. The essence is just as I like it - light but thicker than plain water, hydrates, plumps and treats. I have noticed my skin is glowing after I started using this, but I won’t make any claims just yet.

After prepping my skin it’s time for serums. This is a bit tricky category as serums take a while to make a difference in the skin - especially if it’s lightening pigmentation. Globe Hope Cosmetics Lumi Strong* (54.90€ / 30ml) is packed with blueberry extract and arbutin from bilberry extract, which is a melanin inhibitor. If you’re HC about eco skincare and want to lighten pigmentation, Lumi Strong is worth looking into, but I unfortunately haven’t seen any change in my pigmentation issues during the good 4 weeks I’ve been using it. Clinique’s Hydrating Jelly* (61.50€ / 125ml) is also a slight disappointment for me. As much as I like hydrating serums and ampoules, I haven’t found one that would beat Kypris Antioxidant Dew or Esse Serum (reviews here) in that deep hydration my thirsty skin craves. If Clinique launches its Vitamin C and Retinol Boosters in Finland (which you can mix in the jelly) in Finland I’m willing to try again.

Eye cream is something I don’t use 100% of the time. Lately I’ve tried various eco beauty roll-ons, but this Tata Harper Restorative Eye Cream*.. it’s a winner. Needless to say, as it’s very expensive (Cult Beauty* ~100€ / 15ml). Is it worth it? Is any eye cream (or skincare product)? If yes.. then Tata’s close. This eye cream is rich, moisturizing, but doesn’t give me any puffiness around the eye area or milia. Finally I feel my dark circles have improved and I hope the good INCI list can strengthen my eye area as it promises.

Another luxurious eco skincare treat in my routine is the Henua Organics Recharging Moisturizer* (129€ / 30ml), but it is a treat.. Not only Henua Organics is made in Finland, packed in the most exquisite bottles with birch wood caps, 85% organic farming and eco cert, but also this cream is packed with birch sap, pine park extract, sea buckthorn oil - just to name a few. It leaves my skin feeling so soft and supple, packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. I want to write a whole dedicated article about Henua Organics, keep your eyes peeled!

Finally the must have I keep on preaching about: SPF!! This Mádara Plant Stem Cell Antioxidant Sunscreen SPF30 (~15.2€ / 100ml, available at House of Organic (FI)*) was one of my Best SPF for Summer 2018. Don’t let the package fool you, some sites might even list this sunscreen on the ‘body’ section, but I use it for my face, neck, décolleté, hands, you name it.. This sunscreen is on the heavier, a bit greasier side texture-wise and does leave a bit of white cast, which does disappear when you massage it in. I was sent one tube to test, went through it and purchased a new one. In the Spring and Summer I might go back to my beloved Innisfree sunscreen, but Mádara is easy to purchase here in Helsinki, inexpensive and my dry skin simply loves it. Rain or shine, Winter or Summer - always remember the SPF!

Winter AM Skincare Routine | Laura Loukola Beauty Blog

Did you spot any favorites in my routine or something you’d love to read more about? Leave questions, comments and your routine favorites in the comments below!

*Products marked with an asterisk(*) were kindly gifted me for consideration, with no obligation to write about them. My thoughts and opinions are my honest and my own.

Best Sunscreens for Summer 2018

Time for the annual sunscreen reminder post (originally here!) We Finns tend to loose our shiz when the Sun finally comes after long, dark winter months: everyone's sipping drinks at terraces, sunbathing in parks and swimming in icy cold lakes. We often tend to overlook the importance of sunscreen as most of the year is cold, dark and miserable. But the fact is, if you want to protect your skin - a sunscreen is a must! Today I'm listing some of the sunscreens I've been testing lately and sharing my thoughts.

Best Sunscreens of 2018 | flatlay | Laura Loukola

How I rate sunscreenS

Not all sunscreens are created equally, that's why I've created a system to measure both protective qualities as well as the enjoyability aka cosmetic elegance of a sunscreen. The truth is, if you don't like applying your SPF you probably won't reach for it and get the needed sun protection. Today I'll talk how easily sunscreen applies, SPF and PA factors, white cast and UV filters (chemical or a physical). Unfortunately I didn't have the change to test them in flash photography, but if that's your concern then I'd go for chemical sunscreens (or sunscreen at all, if it's a very special photoshoot). Personally I'm a big advocate of physical sunscreens as I consider them safer for me and the environment, but I've listed some excellent alternatives in the case physical sunscreens make you to break out or so. I'll be listing the INCI but not analyse it very deeply - if you wish to have a separate and more in-depth product review let me know!

Innisfree Perfect UV Protection Cream SPF50 PA+++

UV Filters: Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide
White cast: 3/5
Price: $16 / ~€13.7 for 50ml

I've raved about my favorite Innisfree Eco Safety SPF50 PA+++ in multiple empties posts, online forums and so forth. It's definitely my most reached sunscreen for the past +5 years or so. I've literally gone through +20 tubes of this stuff. Somewhat recently Innisfree revamped and renamed this sunscreen line and now there are alternatives for both oily and dry skin. Personally I use the "Tripple Care", which is also water resistant, but doesn't feel tacky, heavy or difficult to cleanse off. Previously the cream was all white, now it has a slight nude tint and blends into the skin easily. The texture is somewhat thick, but I the finish is non-greasy in my opinion. Excellent for dry to normal skin types, if you're oilier (or hate sunscreen) you might enjoy a thinner texture.

Ingredients:

WATER, CYCLOPENTASILOXANE, ZINC OXIDE (CI 77947), DIPROPYLENE GLYCOL, BUTYLENE GLYCOL, PEG-10 DIMETHICONE, DICAPRYLYL CARBONATE, TITANIUM DIOXIDE (CI 77891), ISODECYL NEOPENTANOATE, NIACINAMIDE, DISTEARDIMONIUM HECTORITE, CAMELLIA SINENSIS LEAF EXTRACT, MICA (CI 77019), DIMETHICONE, MAGNESIUM SULFATE, METHYL METHACRYLATE CROSSPOLYMER, METHICONE, PHENOXYETHANOL, ALUMINUM HYDROXIDE, GLYCERYL CAPRYLATE, FRAGRANCE, DIMETHICONE/VINYL DIMETHICONE CROSSPOLYMER, STEARIC ACID, POLYGLYCERYL-6 POLYRICINOLEATE, TOCOPHERYL ACETATE, CAPRYLYL GLYCOL, ADENOSINE, IRON OXIDES (CI 77492), TRIETHOXYCAPRYLYLSILANE, BIOSACCHARIDE GUM-1, IRON OXIDES (CI 77491), IRON OXIDES (CI 77499), HELIANTHUS ANNUUS (SUNFLOWER) SEED OIL, CAMELLIA JAPONICA LEAF EXTRACT, ORCHID EXTRACT, CITRUS UNSHIU PEEL EXTRACT, OPUNTIA COCCINELLIFERA FRUIT EXTRACT, SACCHAROMYCES FERMENT LYSATE FILTRATE

ACO Sun Dace Fluid Mattifying SPF50+ *

UV Filters: Ethylhexyl salicylate, Bis-Ethylhexyloxyphenol Methoxyphenyl Triazine, Diethylamino Hydroxybenzoyl Hexyl Benzoate, Methylene bis-benzotriazolyl tetramethylbutylphenol, 
White cast: 2/5
Price: ~$23.35 / €20 for 40ml

ACO Sun Dace Fluid Mattifying SPF50+ has both UVA and UVB protection, but the PA is not always listed in European products separately. ACO's facial sunscreens are very cosmetically elegant, perhaps slightly thicker than Japanese sunscreens, but still spread and blend very beautifully. The white cast is minimal as the lotion absorbs into the skin quickly, leaving it smooth and moisturized feel despite its thin texture. As much as I like ACO's SPF50 I wouldn't recommend it to oilier skins as the name is misleading in my opinion - this sunscreen is dewy, borderline shiny and not mattifying at all. The sheen isn't too greasy but if you're prone to sweat or producing oil during the day I'd try the ACO SPF30.

Ingredients:

Aqua, dibutyl adipate, ethylhexyl salicylate, dicaprylyl carbonate, bis-ethylhexyloxyphenol methoxyphenyl triazine, diethylamino hydroxybenzoyl hexyl benzoate, PEG-30 dipolyhydroxystearate, ethylhexyl triazone, nylon-12, nylon 6/12, ethylhexyl benzoate, glycerin, propanediol, methylene bis-benzotriazolyl tetramethylbutylphenol (nano), diglycerin, methyl methacrylate crosspolymer, glyceryl behenate, polyglyceryl-3 diisostearate, zinc PCA, phenoxyethanol, cetyl dimethicone, magnesium sulfate, dimethicone, tocopheryl acetate, paraffinum liquidum, decyl glucoside, polyglycerin-3, disodium EDTA, silica, propylene glycol, xanthan gum, sodium hydroxide, tocopherol
Best Sunscreens of 2018 | flatlay | Laura Loukola
Best Sunscreens of 2018 | flatlay | Laura Loukola

ACO Sun Face Cream SPF30 *

UV Filters: Ethylhexyl salicylate, Bis-Ethylhexyloxyphenol Methoxyphenyl Triazine, Butyl Methoxydibenzoylmethane, Diethylamino Hydroxybenzoyl Hexyl Benzoate
White cast: 2/5
Price: ~$19.58 / €17 for 40ml

Oddly, this SPF by ACO is slightly thicker in texture than its SPF50 version, but absorbs much nicer into the skin. The lotion spreads easily, leaving the skin smooth to touch, slightly moisturized and not shiny at all. I like it how ACO sunscreens don't feel sticky, tacky or heavy, but as I tend to sweat during the Summer months I prefer more natural/matte sunscreens. This sunscreen isn't advertised as matte, but I'd say it is more matte compared to the SPF50 version. I almost always use SPF50 on my face, but texture-wise I do prefer the ACO Sun Face Cream SPF30. I think I'll run through this tube pretty quickly, but I like having a handbag size SPF to carry with me for re-applying!

Ingredients:

Aqua, octocrylene, C12-15 alkyl benzoate, ethylhexyl salicylate, niacinamide, bis-ethylhexyloxyphenol methoxypheryl triazine, dimethicone, butyl methoxydibenzoylmethane, diethylamino hydroxybenzoyl hexyl benzoate, propanediol, glycerin, cetearyl alcohol, diglycerin, tapioca starch, biosaccharide gum-4, potassium cetyl phosphate, isopropyl myristate, tocopheryl acetate, ethylhexyl triazone, Helianthus annuus hybrid oil, ammonium acryloyldimethyltaurate/ VP copolymer, alpha-glucan oligosaccharide, polyglycerin-3, xanthan gum, ascorbyl glucoside, sodium hyaluronate, polymethylsilsesquioxane, algin, citric acid, ubiquirone, phenoxyethanol, potassium sorbate, sodium benzoate

Madara SUN 30 Plant Stem Cell Antioxidant Sunscreen SPF 30 *

UV Filters: Zinc Oxide
White cast: 2,5-3/5
Price: ~$22.2 / 19€ for 100ml/ 3.38 fl.oz.

I've had mixed feelings about Mádara as some of their products work for me while others don't. They have specific sunscreens for the face (slightly tinted or CC cream -like if I'm not wrong), but I spread this lotion generously on my face without major white cast. It has a lighter texture than the Innisfree and sinks into the skin quickly without being tacky, but leaves a slight slip. There is a veeery faint citrus scent, which doesn't bother me - I prefer this over the regular "sunscreen smell". I'm only concerned why this sunscreen doesn't include Titanium Dioxide - perhaps that's why it's only SPF30? I need to investigate further, but so far I'm very happy and impressed I've found a light eco friendly sunscreen in a large tube that I can spread all over my face, neck, décolleté and arms too. So far the slippy texture hasn't bothered me, but you might notice it when applying foundation.

Ingredients:

Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe) Leaf Juice, Zinc Oxide, Isoamyl Laurate, Dicaprylyl Carbonate, Glycerin, Sorbitan Olivate, Beeswax, Lecithin, Polyglyceryl-2 Dipolyhydroxystearate, Silica, Dracocephalum Ruyschiana (Dragonhead) Cell Culture Extract, Rubus Idaeus (Raspberry) Seed Oil, Cellulose, Sodium Chloride,
Sorbitan Caprylate, Aroma, Palmitic acid, Stearic Acid, Propanediol, Benzoic Acid, Aqua, Ascorbyl Palmitate (Vitamin C), Sodium phytate, Tocopherol, Potassium Hydroxide, Citral, Citronellol, Linalool, Geraniol, Limonene
Best Sunscreens of 2018 | flatlay | Laura Loukola

Alga Maris Laboratoires de Biarritz 50 UVA UVB CrÈme solaire *

UV Filters: Zinc Oxide, Titanium Dioxide
White cast: 4/5
Price: ~$26.7 / €22.9 for 50ml

Alga Maris was a brand I hadn't heard off, but I got a chance to try their SPF50. This is also more "eco" brand, with a physical sunscreen, which I like. If you're very sensitive to coconut derived ingredients this might not be for you, but personally I've loved to use it on my face. The white cast is prominent, but disappears when gently massaged into the skin. The texture is very light lotion, doesn't leave a sticky layer, but feels a bit shiny and slippery. Less so than ACO SPF50, so I think oilier skin types might still enjoy this one. Alga Maris feels very water-resistant and lasts long on the skin. I like to apply this when I know I'll be out and about a lot. The only minus point is the high price tag, but otherwise I'm loving it.

Ingredients:

Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Zinc Oxide, Cocos Nucifera Oil*, Coconut Alkanes, Titanium Dioxide, Polyglyceryl-2 Dipolyhydroxystearate, Butyrospermum Parkii Butter*, Polyglyceryl-3 Diisostearate, Hydrogenated Vegetable
Oil, Lauroyl Lysine, Alumina, Stearic Acid, Coco-Caprylate/Caprate, Glyceryl Caprylate, Gelidium Sesquipedale Extract, Maris Aqua, Potassium Olivoyl PCA, Tocopherol, Helianthus Annuus Seed Oil, Sodium Hydroxide

Josh Rosebrook Nutrient Day Cream Broad Spectrum SPF30

UV Filters: Zinc Oxide, Titanium Dioxide
White cast: 3/5
Price: $50 / €55 for 30ml

Ingredients:

*Aloe Vera Leaf Juice, *Shea Butter, 12% Zinc Oxide (Non Nano, Uncoated, Micronized), *Evening Primrose Oil, *Hemp Seed Oil, *Borage Seed Oil, *Sea Buckthorn Oil, *Olive Oil, *Avocado Oil,*Almond Oil,*Sesame Oil, *Jojoba Oil,*Grape Seed Oil, *Broccoli Oil, ‡Candelilla Wax, *Gum Arabic, *Guar Gum, §Xanthan Gum, *Calendula, *Bilberry, *Chamomile, *Burdock, *Rosemary, *Dandelion, *Rose Hips, *Catnip, *Chickweed, *Neem, *Skullcap, *Ginkgo Leaf, *Linden Flower, *Hawthorn Berry, *Green Tea, *Flax, *Nettle, *Sage, *Marshmallow Root, *Cayenne, *Ginseng, *Peppermint, *Alfalfa, *Vitamin E, Potassium Sorbate, *Benzoin Resin, †Carrot Seed Oil. *CERTIFIED ORGANIC †ORGANIC ‡WILDCRAFTED

I admire Josh Rosebrook and love his skincare line to bits: his cream cleanser, facial oil, balms and hydration mask are some of my HG products. I had heard good things about this SPF and I imagined it would double as an excellent day cream. The white cast is minimal, but if it bothers you there is also a slightly tinted version. The problem is: this is way over my budget for a daily sunscreen. I could pay this much for an excellent serum, but water, shelter and sunscreen are my 3 essentials in life. Secondly, no matter which makeup I use the sunscreen starts to pill on my face. I just can't wear it on my makeup days aka most days.

I bought my bottle from So Natural Beauty and got delivered me 2 small bottles instead of the large one (out of stock at the time). And the pump doesn't work. The shop staff suggested cutting the tube of the pump shorter, but it didn't solve the problem. For this price I want someone to spread the stuff on my face, not battle with a dysfunctional pump. The shop kindly offered to replace the product, but I didn't want to go through the trouble of sending the product back. I'll report back if the other bottle out of the two works better.

Sunscreen Swatches

Sunscreen swatches

Final Thoughts

I think I've found good contestants for my Innisfree sunscreen. It's still a firm favorite, but I also have fallen in love with the Alga Maris and Madara sunscreens. One of my old favorite sunscreens is a Korean SPF by Goodal, but to my knowledge the same formula is no longer made, so I didn't include it in this post. Although I prefer physical sunscreens I wanted to introduce alternatives as our skins are so different - some break out from physical, some from chemical sunscreens. The spectrum and ingredients play an important factor, but I think finding a sunscreen with enjoyable texture is as extra important. My advice is to sample and test sunscreens to find what suits the best for you and make it a part of your daily routine! 

I've been thinking of doing an updated SPF information post. Would you be interested? Also, let me know what's your favorite facial or body sunscreen at the moment!!

Items marked with an asterisk (*) are kindly gifted for consideration. My thoughts are honest & my own.