Shopping for sunscreens can be challenging especially when you’re not sure of what to look for. Of course, we all want reliable sunscreens that will give that optimal protection against cancer-causing UVB and UVA rays.
Most people would often aim for sunscreens with the highest SPF, but is SPF really the only thing we should be concerned with? What about the ingredients we should be cautious of?
Shopping for sunscreens does not have to be that difficult. And it doesn’t have to be that expensive too!
If you’re curious to know more, check out this article to guide you on your next purchase.
Sun Protection Factor (SPF)
What is SPF?
SPF is simply a measurement of how effective your sunscreen is against the sun. This means that the higher the SPF, the more efficient it is and the less likely you will have to reapply your sunscreen sooner.
It is always advisable to choose a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or even higher. Did you know that a sunscreen with SPF 30 can already protect you against roughly 97% of UVB rays? What more if it’s even higher than that!
But SPF isn’t everything.
SPF in fact only works on UVB, and not on UVA rays. The perfect protection targets both.
To further explain UVB and UVA rays,
- UVB rays cause sunburns. This is because UVB rays affect the outermost epidermis.
- UVA rays cause aging. This is because UVA rays affect the deeper parts of the skin.
Both UV rays are harmful and may eventually lead to skin cancer. This is the reason why getting a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more is honestly not enough since SPF only targets UVB rays.
The answer lies in a broad spectrum sunscreen.
Broad spectrum sunscreens protect you from both UVB and UVA rays. So if you’re looking for that total protection against sunburn and aging, we recommend getting a sunscreen branded as broad spectrum.
Whether you’re swimming or just out on a walk, it’s also important to make sure that your sunscreen is water resistant.
Water resistance ensures that your sunscreen stays on your skin for longer. This is of course crucial when you’re out on a swim since you don’t want the water to wash away that protective layer.
But this isn’t only limited to swimming. Sweat is also a factor to consider.
We highly encourage getting a water resistant sunscreen particularly for people who tend to sweat easily and for people who are in a more humid environment.
Chemical vs Mineral: What’s the Difference?
A chemical sunscreen prevents UV rays from being absorbed into the body. UV radiation is absorbed and transformed by chemicals such as avobenzone and oxybenzone to heat that our bodies can easily dispel.
Is it effective?
Yes! Not only is it effective, but it’s also lightweight and easy to apply. On top of that, it doesn’t leave that dreaded sunscreen white cast too. This is especially great for people with darker skin tones.
It does require some time to be effective though, so be sure to apply it much earlier before going out for your usual day. It might also not be the best choice for people with sensitive skin. If you have rosacea, it may actually make it worse.
Likewise, it’s also not the best option when you’re going out for a swim in the ocean since the chemicals used have been proven harmful to coral reefs.
A mineral sunscreen works by deflecting radiation rather than absorbing it.
It contains ingredients such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide that are excellent in protecting the skin from both UVB and UVA rays.
Plus, it’s also perfect for people with acne-prone and sensitive skin. Unlike chemical sunscreens, it doesn’t require time to be absorbed and works as soon as it is applied too. So if you’re always on the go, you might want to consider trying this.
However, it does require to be reapplied more frequently throughout the day. It’s also known to leave a bit of white cast for people with darker skin tones.
Why Is Sunscreen Important?
Sunscreen is important to prevent sunburns and visible signs of early aging. It’s also the best way to prevent skin cancer that we can get from too much exposure to both UVB and UVA radiation.
As they say, prevention is always better than cure.
Most people only apply sunscreen at the beach. But did you know that you should actually be applying a generous amount everyday even when you’re at home?
It is recommended to apply about a quarter of a teaspoon of sunscreen on your face every single day. Don’t skimp on applying an ample layer on your body too. It’s also important to target hard to reach places such as the area behind the ears and the back of your neck.
Ingredients to Be Careful Of
Oxybenzone, Octinoxate, & Homosalate
Oxybenzone, octinoxate, and homosalate are common ingredients in chemical sunscreens. They are highly effective in protecting the skin from harmful radiation but are not advisable for people with sensitive skin. These chemicals may be too strong for people with skin conditions like allergies, melasma, and rosacea.
Aside from this, studies have shown that high levels of oxybenzone, octinoxate, and homosalate may affect the endocrine system. This means that these chemicals may prove to be potential hormone disruptors for women and men alike.
Lastly, these chemicals pose a threat to coral reefs and other marine life too. In fact, sunscreens and other products containing oxybenzone and octinoxate have already been banned in Hawaii to prevent coral bleaching.
Retinyl palmitate (also known as preformed Vitamin A) is an ingredient you should be avoiding when it comes to sunscreens. Sunscreens containing this ingredient may be doing quite the opposite of protecting the skin from harmful UVB and UVA rays.
Contrastingly, retinyl palmitate may cause damage to the skin leading to skin cancers such as melanoma.
Whether you’re out for a swim or just chilling at home, it’s important to wear sunscreen everyday for that all-around protection. Getting the right sunscreen can be a challenge, but we hope this article can guide you on your next purchase.
Keep your skin young and healthy all year round by wearing the best sunscreen that’s perfect for you!