When buying sunscreen, we automatically look for the letters “SPF”. SPF is short for “sun protection factor”, which measures how much something protects your skin from the sun’s ultraviolet or UV rays. There are two types of rays that can cause skin damage: UVA and UVB rays.
Even though summer is over, you should still religiously apply sunscreen during the colder seasons as UV rays are invisible to the eye, and failing to protect your skin from the sun doesn’t just lead to skin damage, it also increases your risk of skin cancer.
It’s important to pick a broad spectrum sunscreen so it provides you with both UVA and UVB protection. UVB rays are the main culprit in causing sunburn and also play a key role in skin cancer. UVA rays are longer than UVB rays, so they can penetrate deeper into skin and cause premature aging and wrinkles.
What do the numbers mean?
You’ll notice that SPF is always followed by a number, whether it’s 15, 20, 30 or 50. No sunscreen can block 100% of all UVB rays. The SPF number simply tells you how much time you can stay in the sun without getting sunburned. Sunscreens with SPF15 blocks 93%, SPF30 blocks 97%, and SPF50 blocks 98% of UVB rays.
If you were to apply sunscreen with an SPF of 30, then it would allow you to stay in the sun 30 times longer than you could without getting sunburned. Remember, just because you’ve applied sunscreen with SPF 50, it doesn’t mean you can stay in the sun all day. Reapplying sunscreen is an absolute must, so don’t forget to reapply sunscreen every two hours, especially if you’ll be outdoors.
Other ways to protect your skin from the sun
Applying sunscreen every day, even if it’s cloudy, is one way to protect your skin from the sun’s damaging UV rays, but there are also other ways to do so. You can seek shade when necessary, wear a hat or long-sleeved clothing, and try to limit your time in the sun between 10am and 4pm when the sun’s rays are the most intense.
Different types of sunscreen
Long gone are the days when you only had sunscreens in cream or lotion form. Now you can find sunscreens in various forms and textures including gel, spray and stick. Not sure which type of sunscreen to go for? Check out some of our recommendations:
Sun creams are the most traditional type of sunscreen. They’re thicker than other variations, making them ideal for normal, dry or dehydrated skin. You can find many great sun creams including ones from AROMATICA, The Face Shop, Purito, and Nacific. All offer a protection of SPF50+ which is perfect for everyday wear.
If you’re looking for something with a slightly thinner consistency, then a sun lotion like Etude House’s Sunprise Must Daily Lotion SPF50+ PA+++ is perfect. This bestselling sunscreen is lightweight and contains Vitamin D to amp up the skin’s defenses against sun damage and external irritants.
For something light enough for daily use, especially if you’re not going to be in the sun much, go for Meow Meow Tweet’s Everyday Sunscreen SPF25. This mineral sunscreen contains plant-based ingredients that won’t clog your pores, and leaves your skin feeling moisturized. It also has a subtle fragrance that smells like rose geranium so if you’re into floral and fresh scented products then go for this sunscreen.
Picking a sunscreen for oily skin can be a bit tricky because you have to factor in your skin’s greasiness level. This is why sun gels are a no brainer for oily skin types since they’re a non-greasy sunscreen. They’re super light, absorb into skin quickly, and don’t leave your skin feeling extra oily by midday! Sun gels are also great sunscreen alternatives for those with combination or acne-prone skin.
MISSHA’s All Around Safe Block Aqua Sun Gel is praised by many YesStyle customers so it’s definitely worth trying. This sun gel offers SPF50+ PA+++ that protects your skin against both UVA and UVB rays and is formulated with a non-sticky gel formula that’s water and sweat-resistant. With ice plant, glacial water, antozone-rose and thanaka extracts found in the gel’s ingredients list, your skin will feel refreshed, moisturized and soothed throughout the day.
Do you know which type of sunscreen is the easiest to use? It’s a sun stick! If you don’t want to go through the hassle of spreading on a thick layer of sunscreen every single day then stick to using a sun stick. LANEIGE offers a non-sticky sun stick that gives you your daily dose of SPF50 protection, and it controls excess sebum production at the same time.
To apply a sun stick, simply run it across your entire face, and make sure you cover your neck and ears too. Sun sticks are also perfect for oily skin.
Sun sprays are more commonly used on the body, but if you’re a fan of spraying sunscreen on your face, then you’re in luck because we’ve got a few picks for you.
Alba Botanica’s Sensitive Sunscreen Fragrance Free Clear Spray SPF50 can easily be applied thanks to its air-powered mist that can be sprayed at any angle. Just be careful not to spray it too close to the face or you might risk inhaling the formula. It’s best to hold the bottle at least four to six inches away from your face so you can get an even spray. You can also spray it on your hands first then gently pat the sunscreen on your face.
Have you decided which type of sunscreen to go for? If you’re still in doubt, you can also check out Chapter 17 of the Beauty Book to learn how to pick the right sunscreen for your skin type.