Sunscreen 101

We always hear that we need to wear sunscreen. But there are so many kinds, which one do you choose? Although we should wear it year-round, the need increases in the summer since we are spending more time in the sun. This means now is a good time to find your perfect formula.

So, let’s break down some of the questions you may have.

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What to Know About Sunscreen

What does SPF mean? Sun Protection Factor. Basically, how well it’ll protect skin against UVB rays.
For example, 30 SPF is known to protect from 97% of UVB rays.

What SPF do I need? From my research 30 is the most recommended. 50 may be best for longer periods in the sun.

Note – There is no evidence that higher SPFs provide more protection and none offer protection from 100% of rays. Consider this when you buy sunscreen!

You may have noticed that I said SPF is based on UVB rays – so something else to look for is a broad-spectrum formula! This will offer protection from both UVB (cause the skin to burn) and UVA rays (cause the skin to age).

Sunscreen Formulas

Which type of formula is best? The most common formulas are lotions and sprays. This comes down to a personal preference on how you like to apply products. If you go for a spray be sure to rub it into your skin!

In the past, I’ve always worn a lotion formula but I opted for a spray this year.  I thought it would be easiest to apply at my outdoor activities – like the zoo.

Sunscreen is only effective when applied correctly. Most say they should be applied 15 mins prior to sun exposure and reapplied every 2 hours. Keep that in mind when choosing your formula.

Mineral vs Chemical

Have you noticed a lot of talk about mineral sunscreen lately? So what is the difference? 

Mineral sunscreens are also known as physical because they create a barrier that reflects UV rays away from the surface of the skin. The active ingredients are zinc oxide and titanium oxide. Mineral formulas are known to give a white cast, especially in pictures – so be aware of that.

Chemical sunscreens absorb UV rays. The active ingredients include oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homesalate, and octinoxate.

There is not enough known about how these chemicals affect our bodies after entering our skin (like hormones or skin irritation) so many people avoid them. When people talk about clean sunscreen, it’s a mineral formula.

Which is best? It’s really a personal preference! If you are concerned about the long-term effects of the chemical sunscreens, choose a mineral option. If you want something that tends to be cheaper, choose a chemical option. There are many reasons to choose one or the other, go with what works for you. It’s not like you can’t switch it up later on!

Makeup with Sunscreen

Should I be using sunscreen before or after makeup? Since sunscreen works along the skin I find it most effective to use before makeup is applied. Plus, it is recommended to apply products thinnest to thickest, and most likely, your sunscreen is thinner than your foundation, etc.

As I mentioned earlier, sunscreen does need to be reapplied. You might be thinking – that’s gonna be tough to reapply if I already have makeup on. For that, try a sunscreen makeup setting sunscreen spray!

Also, a quick note about makeup products that have sunscreen in them. They are not effective on their own so it’s still recommended to use another sunscreen product in addition to the makeup. For example, a foundation’s main job is to be foundation, so the SPF is not powerful enough in the small amount you use on your face because it is not the main ingredient.

I hope this is helpful. I’d love to answer any other questions you have. Leave them below.

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