Everything You Need To Know About Sunscreen

BY GRACE MIN

Let’s be honest, we all know sunscreen is good for us but most of us don't apply it in our skincare routine or even when we go to the beach. I’ve been guilty of this too. The day I started applying sunscreen daily was the day I got more educated on how important it actually is for your health and for photoaging. So my goal here is to share some gems about sunscreen in the hopes of encouraging you to include it in your daily routine. Let’s get started!

 

 

Why Do You Need Sunscreen?

The easy answer is, to protect your skin from the sun. The tough reality though, is that skin cancer is in the Top 5 most common cancers in the United States and is also the most preventable. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control & Prevention) the sun’s ultraviolet rays can damage your skin in just 15 minutes. Prolonged exposure from UV rays also promotes wrinkles, age spots, inflammation, and scaly patches. Yikes. Sunscreen is proven to significantly decrease these risks of skin cancers, skin precancers, and photoaging. 

 

 

Sunscreen Terminology

Ultraviolet (UV) Rays are made up of UVA, UVB, and UVC rays. Only UVA and UVB rays are strong enough to strike through the ozone, so those are the ones we worry about. A good way to remember what the UV rays do is, UVA is for Aging, and UVB is for Burning

Sun Protection Factor (SPF) is a measurement or percentage of only UVB rays blocked. The duration of protection varies depending on the individual. For example, if someone uses SPF 30, they can stay in the sun without burning for 30 times longer than they could with their bare skin. This is not including factors of swimming or sweating.

  • SPF 15 protects against 93% of UVB rays
  • SPF 30 protects against 97% of UVB rays
  • SPF 50 protects against 98% of UVB rays

If you ever heard of people not buying SPF higher than 50, it’s because SPF 50 already protects against 98% of UVB rays. So anything higher has such a small increment of protection added, it won’t make too much of a difference. What’s more important is the reapplication of sunscreen ideally every 2 hours. 

Broad Spectrum sunscreen protects you from both UVA and UVB rays. 

PA+++ is short for Protection Grade of UVA. You guessed it! It protects you from UVA rays. This is a rating system found in Korean and Japanese sunscreens. The higher the plus (it goes up to 4 +’s), the higher the protection. Sunscreens that are labeled with PA+ are paired with SPF, so it is also considered broad spectrum.

 

 

Sunscreen Types

Mineral / Physical Sunscreen 

  • Sits on top of your skin and acts like a shield to deflect UV rays away from your skin
  • Thicker formula tends to allow the protection to last longer
  • No wait time needed after application
  • Tolerated well by sensitive skin types
  • It may leave a white cast
  • Ingredients include zinc oxide & titanium dioxide

Chemical Sunscreen

  • Sinks into the skin to absorb UV rays, turns it into heat, and releases it from your skin
  • Feels light and is comfortable for daily use
  • Leaves no white cast
  • Works great under makeup
  • Needs 15-30 minutes to absorb before sun exposure
  • Ingredients include organic compounds approved by the FDA: oxybenzone, octinoxate, octisalate, and avobenzone

Which one do you use? We recommend a broad spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30. We encourage you to test which formulations you like that are compatible with your skin type. Keep in mind it should be a sunscreen you enjoy wearing with a thick application. 

 

 

Sunscreen Myths

You don’t need to wear sunscreen if your makeup has SPF in it.

This is False! Sunscreen is most effective when you apply it evenly with a generous amount. Though makeup with SPF is a great addition to your sunscreen, it is not applied evenly or with enough product to replace a sunscreen. 

Deeper skin tones don’t need sunscreen.

False! Everyone who has any kind of sun exposure needs sunscreen. It is true that darker complexions can fight off UV rays better than fair to light complexions, but no one is immune to sun damage. 

Getting a tan from the sun is healthy.

Sorry, no such thing as a healthy suntan :( When your skin gets darker from sun exposure, it is actually a sign that your skin is alerting you that it’s damaged. Dermatologists recommend sunless tanning options like tanning lotions versus actual suntanning. 

 

  

Sunscreen Tips

  • Make sure you wash your sunscreen off before you sleep. SPF is a larger molecule and will press into your pores while you sleep, making them much bigger.
  • Look for Non-comedogenic sunscreens, meaning sunscreens that won’t clog your pores throughout the day.
  • Don’t forget to apply sunscreen to your neck. Any area of your skin that is thin (face, neck, hands), it is more prone to sun damage, sagging, and the breakdown of collagen & elastin. 

 

 

Here are some of our favorite sunscreens:

Chemical Sunscreens

Missha All-Around Safe Block Essence Sun Milk SPF 50 PA+++, $22

  • Serum, lightweight feel
  • Cica ingredient creates calming properties
  • No white cast

Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40 PA+++, $17 - $34

  • Velvet, lightweight feel
  • Red algae & meadowfoam seed oil ingredients create antioxidant and hydrating properties
  • No white cast

Mineral/Physical Sunscreens

Biossance Squalane + Zinc Sheer Mineral Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 30, $30

  • Sheer, lightweight feel
  • Water lily & squalane ingredients for cooling and hydrating properties
  • No white cast

Dermalogica Invisible Physical Defense Broad Spectrum SPF 30, $54

  • Lightweight, luxurious cream feel
  • Non-nano zinc oxide, Green tea & mushroom extract ingredients for soothing and antioxidant properties
  • No white cast

Bonus: Our favorite Sunscreen for Reapplication

Most of us don’t reapply sunscreen because we don’t want to ruin our makeup or it might just feel like a hassle to smother it on throughout the day. So here is our recommended solution.

Sunscreen setting sprays. All you have to do is generously mist your face for added protection. I wouldn’t claim it protects better than a sunscreen you slather on, due to the spray’s thinness, but it’s definitely better to apply this than not reapplying sunscreen at all.

Sunscreen Setting Sprays:

Supergoop! Defense Refresh Setting Mist SPF 40, $30

Coola Makeup Setting Spray Organic Sunscreen SPF 30, $36

 


The takeaway. Don’t forget your sunscreen! The importance of sunscreen is not for vanity reasons, it's for your health. Better to prevent & protect versus having to deal with damage later.

Always consult with your dermatologist & esthetician for what is right for you.

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