Get to know the facts.
Prolonged under-the-sun hours can cause various skin related issues, not to mention permanent skin damages to the skin’s DNA. Sorry, we don't mean to freak you out, but a well-informed SPF protection plan is the way to go (and your skin will thank you ten years from now!).
So here are all of the facts, definitions, and dermatologist-approved top picks. Our little run-sheet on all things SPF to take your skincare routine up a serious notch. We asked skincare specialist Bhavna Maharaj to take us through it all and help make well-informed decisions on our next SPF purchase.
HOW MUCH PROTECTION DO THE NUMBERS GIVE US?
Generally, the higher the SPF number, the more protection we should be getting.
SPF numbers measure the UVB rays. An SPF 15 blocks 93% of UVB radiation, SPF 30 97%. However, as we go up the numbers, the increase in UVB protection is minimal. SPF 50 blocks only an estimated 98%. UVB rays are the ones that give us a tan, that hot sensation on our skin and the ones that cause sunburns. So it is better to get a sunscreen with SPF of 30+, but it is more important to reapply when outdoors instead of relying on the higher SPF numbers to give us the protection.
WHAT EXACTLY IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN UVA AND UBA?
UVA rays are linked to skin damage and ageing. It travels deeper into the skin than UVB rays and damages our collagen and elastin fibres. This leads to wrinkling, saggy skin, and thickened look. They also damage our melanocytes, which cause pigmentation problems, sun spots, freckling, and other brown spots as well.
UVA protection is measured by PPD (persistent pigment darkening). It will have a number at the end. The higher the number, the better the photo ageing protection. Sometimes it will be PA ++++. Again, the more the plus signs, the better the protection.
Both types of rays contribute to skin cancer so it is better to get a sunscreen with a broad-spectrum protection. This means that they should protect you against UVA and UVB rays.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A BROAD-SPECTRUM SUNSCREEN?
These are called hybrid sunscreens. They include chemical and physical (also known as mineral) protection.
A physical sunscreen will deflect or block out the sun’s rays. Active ingredients are titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. They provide immediate protection such as the good old zinc sticks. We have come a long way, though, and these days they don’t tend to leave such a thick white or purple-y film on the skin.
Chemical sunscreens will absorb or scatter the rays. Oxybenzone and avobenzone are the most common ones. They can cause some allergic reactions. But in order for it to be effective, you must wait 20 minutes before going into the sun. Zinc oxide is the only ingredient that protects against the entire spectrum of UVA and UVB rays.
HOW MUCH QUANTITY TO USE?
A teaspoon or 50c piece for the entire face is recommended.
If you’re using anything less, that means you may only be getting half or a third of the protection. Remember that it does not give you 100% protection either way. So wearing hats, sunglasses, and covering your body wherever you can is better than not to!
I personally use and love the Ultraceuticals range in Mattifying. They come in a 30+ and very recently a 50+ too. Both have broad-spectrum protection and is a moisturiser with antioxidants. Great base under makeup and no shine.
Clarins Sunscreen Control Cream for the face SPF 50+ is great too if u don't want to change your current products. Just incorporate it into your routine. It can be mixed into a makeup product. It glides on like silk and also consists of broad spectrum.
Sothys and Shiseido do a great range too. A good budget option is L'Oreal UV Perfect for a light finish.
Otherwise another great option is to use your mineral powders such as Bare Minerals and Jane Iredale. No issues with reapplying throughout the day and you can go around the eyes with these too–a major area of concern for most women.
Clarins Sunscreen SPF 50+ spray for the body $48
Clarins Sunscreen SPF 50+ cream for the face $48
Shiseido Wet Force SPF 50+ protection $50
Sothys Sensitive Zones Protective Fluid SPF50 $80 (approx.) here for stockists
L'Oreal Paris Aqua Essence SPF 50+ $16.99