Broad-spectrum sunscreen is, by far, the best guarantee for youthful looking skin, that will carry well into old age. It’s the O.G. of graceful ageing and healthy glow. It’s a shield that should be carried every day – sunshine or rain, outside and inside.
But why, and how much? What about make-up?
These and more questions will be answered in this article. For a final touch, we will also give some recommendations of the best sunscreens out there. Be on the lookout!
Reasons why we need sunscreen
So, what does SPF do? It protects us from harmful UV radiation, emitted by the sun. The sun also emits visible light and infrared radiation, both of which can also cause some damage to our skin.
We categorize UV rays as UVA and UVB. Mostly UVA reaches our beloved Earth. These rays have different effects on our skin – UVB causes burning, hyperpigmentation and skin cancer, while UVA is able to penetrate much deeper into our skin, causing changes in collagen and elastin production, thus leading to something we call photoaging.
A quick recap of reasons for why sunscreen is a must, every single day:
No.1: Graceful aging
It is commonly accepted in the skincare world that if you don’t apply sunscreen after your morning skincare routine, you might as well throw all your products in the trash.
As mentioned before, sunscreen shields us from one of the biggest causes of aging, UVA rays. Your skincare routine is just not complete without that protection.
No.2: Actives in skincare
If you’re using actives, such as acids (glycolic, salicylic etc.) and retinoids, these are causing your skin to be way more photosensitive than usual. While they deliver incredible results, it is worth knowing that they are recommended for use at night and a high SPF sunscreen in the morning is absolutely necessary!
No.3: Skin cancer
If cosmetic reasons are not enough to sway you, then perhaps knowing that skin cancer is the most common cancer in the UK, and worldwide, will. At least 100.000 new cases are diagnosed each year in the UK alone, and the majority of these are preventable by adequate protection. (https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/health-professional/cancer-statistics/statistics-by-cancer-type/melanoma-skin-cancer)
How much and how often
With that out of the way, let’s discuss how much sunscreen you actually need and how often you should be reapplying it throughout the day.
Both the FDA and The British Skin Foundation recommend applying half a teaspoon of sunscreen on face and neck, one teaspoon for both arms, two for legs and another two teaspoons for torso. That is not set in stone though and it varies from person to person – literally depending on how much skin you have to cover.
But how often should it be reapplied? Again, it varies. If you’re out on the sun, or if you’re sweating a lot or swimming, your sunscreen is getting rubbed off and sunscreen filters degrade much faster than if you’re sitting inside (not next to a window!) all day.
For the first scenario, when you’re out and about, you should be reapplying sunscreen every 2 hours. Same applies if you’re working next to a window, as windows don’t block the UVA rays. However, if you’re inside, away from windows and exposed to very little sunlight, 2-3 times daily is probably enough sunscreen for you.
Chemical vs physical and what SPF
There are two different types of sunscreen out there, depending on the filters they use: chemical and physical. If you’re not sure which is which, just remember that a physical sunscreen will use these two filters: Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide.
These are extremely good at blocking out both UVA and UVB rays, majorly by reflecting them away from your skin. Their downside is that due to both ingredients being white powders, they can have slight (or major) white cast to them. There are plenty of sunscreens with minimal white cast, but if you have darker skin and would like to stay on the safe side, a tinted physical SPF just might be for you.
And then we have chemical filters – there are way more of these than physical and individually, they don’t offer broad-spectrum protection, so you will likely see more than just two filters in a sunscreen.
Some ingredients are also not very environment-friendly (looking at you, Oxybenzone). However, there are a lot of safe chemical filters out there and new, better ones are constantly being created. The upside to chemical filters is that they have practically no white cast, so they are a great option for people with darker skin tones.
A lot of people say that SPF 30 is enough, but the number of people who swear on nothing below SPF 50 is steadily growing. Chances are that you’re probably not getting the SPF on the bottle anyway - considering that the majority of us probably doesn’t use a whole teaspoon of sunscreen on our face, nor are we applying it as often as we should. So it is a better option to go with SPF 50 – for most people, at least.
What about SPF in moisturisers or makeup?
Moisturiser is generally good, as long as it’s at least SPF 30 and you’re applying (and reapplying) enough of it. Relying solely on SPF in makeup is a big no-no, as we’re never going to apply nearly enough foundation to get the protection that’s listed on the bottle. If you’re using sunscreen besides your SPF makeup, and reapplying it as necessary, you should be perfectly fine.
But beware! Try to choose sunscreen and makeup with similar filters. Some filters have been known to counteract each other. For example, it’s been shown that titanium dioxide can speed up the degradation of avobenzone – a popular and robust chemical sunscreen filter. If in doubt, contact the company, ask a skincare professional or use just one SPF product in your routine. Don’t overthink it though, most filters are still perfectly okay to be used together.
Applying SPF over makeup
This is a very challenging topic, and it really all comes down to personal preference. If you’re using a light BB cushion, you could reapply that over the course of the day. If you wear heavy foundation, there is powder sunscreen – even in form of a brush for easy application. Another way to apply over makeup is also spray-on sunscreen, just make sure the wind doesn’t blow the droplets away.
Extra tip: pour your favourite sunscreen in an empty BB cushion case for a quick and easy application on the go!
Sunscreen to fall in love with !
My absolute favourite Sunscreen right now is:
POLAAR - High Protection Sun Cream face and body SPF30
An amazing sunscreen for both your face and body. I find my skin to be very oily and I was surprised to find that the High Protection Sun Cream face and body by Polaar did not leave my face feeling oily and clogged nor did it leave that terrible white residue so definitely one to give a try.
Below are a few more great SunScreens to try out