You should know this by now: sunscreen isn’t just for the beach! It’s an everyday necessity and trust us, your skin will thank you for it 30 years down the line.
But with so many products available on the market, how do you find the best sunscreen for you? Can I use the same sunscreen for my face and body? What does SPF 50 even mean?
Here is a beginner’s guide to sunscreen shopping and by the end of this article you’ll know exactly what sunscreen to look out for.
What are UVA and UVB rays?
The sun’s UV rays cause your skin damage and both types are linked to skin cancer. UVB rays are causes sunburn, skin reddening, and premature skin ageing. It is also the main culprit behind most types of skin cancer. They vary in strength depending on location, time of day, and time of year.
UVA rays penetrate deeper into your skin and cause tanning as well as wrinkles. Unlike UVB rays, UVA rays remain fairly consistent all year round and any time of day.
When shopping for sunscreen, you want to make sure to get the broad spectrum version which gives you protection from both UV types.
What does SPF mean?
SPF, short for sun protection factor, measures the amount of protection you’ll receive from the sun’s UVB rays. SPF products usually range from 2 to 50+, the higher the SPF number, the stronger the protection. The numbers tell you how long it takes to turn your skin red from UVB if you weren’t using any SPF. For example, if you normally burn after 30 minutes without sunscreen, an SPF 30 will protect you 30 times longer, which is 15 hours. Doctors recommend using sunscreens with a minimum of SPF 30.
How much sunscreen should you apply and how often?
If you plan on sitting out in the sun, you have to put on sunscreen and reapply it every now and then. A good rule of thumb is 1 teaspoon of sunscreen per body part exposed to the sun. If you don’t apply enough sunscreen, your level of protection will be reduced.
Always put on sunscreen 30 minutes before sun exposure and reapply every couple of hours if you’ve been sweating or swimming – even if your sunscreen claims to be waterproof.
What are the different types of sunscreens?
Water-resistant sunscreen – this type is for those who are always swimming or sweating out under the sun. Always check how long your sunscreen can be water resistant for and always reapply every time you get out of the water or every time you dry off with a towel.
Sunscreen plus insect repellent – this may sound appealing if you are fighting bugs at the beach but researches show that sunscreens containing DEET have reduced SPF protection. You may want to consider separate products instead.
Facial sunscreen – These sun creams are usually moisturizers with SPF. They come lightweight, not greasy, and perfect for sensitive skin types.
Anti-ageing sunscreen – More products like this are now available in the market that promise protection from free radicals and slow down the skin ageing process. Free radicals such as dust and pollution contribute to premature ageing. If you live in a busy city, you may want to consider getting this type of sunscreen to protect you from the daily smog.
How long can I store my sunscreen?
Found a huge bottle of sunscreen from who knows when and thinking of using it on your upcoming beach trip? You better not, hun. Sunscreens usually last from 12 to 18 months but if they’ve been exposed to high temperatures or direct sunlight, their shelf lives will be reduced.
Want more sunscreen tips and recommendations? Head over to Independent’s full article here.
Do you regularly use sunscreen? What products can you recommend? Let us know in the comments below!