SPF 101 Guide: Finding Your Perfect Clean SPF Product
Updated: Jul 13
Why SPF is important:
Summer is here and that can only mean one thing: SPF (Sun Protection Factor) will be your bestfriend. Sunscreen is the most undervalued product on everybody’s shelves, and it is so easy to give it amiss in our daily routines because we fail to understand its significance or benefit.
Let us give you a brief run down. The sun – as much as we love it – is the biggest contributor to skin damage. It causes premature wrinkles, destroys collagen production and triggers the melanocytes in our skin’s epidermis causing dark spots; eventually leading to hyperpigmentation, or even worse – skin cancer. The photodamage UV radiation can cause if our skin is left unprotected is dangerous enough to cause DNA changes at a cellular level and can take years before the damage caused at the dermis of your skin shows up on the surface – meaning it will be too late for it to be reversed. As you know, the ozone acts as a sun shield for our planet by absorbing the harmful UVA and UVB rays that it emits, and as the ozone layer depletes, our skin, which is the largest organ we have, needs extra protection from the harmful rays.
So, what is the difference between UVA and UVB?
Those are two types of ultraviolent radiation. UVA rays penetrate deep into the skin’s thickest layer. It’s considered to be the sun’s silent killer, because unlike UVB rays, we do not feel the effects of UVA rays damaging our skin. It slowly destroys the skin’s firmness and elasticity and is something you will notice over time. On the other hand, UVB rays affect the skin’s top later and that is what causes sunburns and skin cancer.
How do I know what to choose?
When you look at a sunscreen product the SPF rating you often see is related to protection from UVB rays only, and to ensure you also protect yourself from UVA as well as UVB (not either or) look for sunscreens that are labelled ‘broad spectrum’ – that is key.
To put it clearer “it’s important to select a sunscreen that blocks enough UV rays to protect your skin type. Make sure you choose one that not only has a high SPF (to protect against the burning UVB rays) but one that also has at least a 4-star UVA rating, preferably 5 stars. We know that UVA rays can cause skin cancer, and so sunscreens that protect against UVB only, are not good,” as Dr. Friedmann from the Harley Street Dermatology Clinic says.
How do I use sunscreen?
We often think that when we apply sunscreen once we are good to go for the day, but this is a misconception. You need to top up every 2 hours to really protect yourself. Make sure that you apply it at least 20 minutes before you go out into the sun and make sure it’s the last step of your skincare routine before applying makeup. You might ask, how do I top up every 2 hours if I’m wearing makeup throughout the day? Well, thanks to advancements in the industry, now on the market you can actually find sun protection face mist you can spray on your face throughout the day, just like a makeup setting spray. That way you can still look glam all while protected at the same time.
Types of sunscreens:
There are two types of sunscreens: Mineral (also knows a physical) and Chemical.
Mineral sunscreens have active ingredients such as Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide that creates a physical barrier to exposed skin. It sits on the skin and reflects the sun’s UV rays like a mirror before they can even cause any damage, whereas, chemical sunscreens contain ingredients that contain chemical compounds such as Oxybenzone, Avobenzone, Octinoxate, Homosalate, Octisalate, and Octocrylene. All of these ingredients absorb the UV rays and a chemical reaction takes place in the skin that later disperses them. The choice really depends on you and your type of skin, i.e. those with sensitive skin are often recommended to use mineral sunscreens because of its mineral and organic components.
Recommended list of clean, organic ‘broad spectrum’ mineral sunscreen products:
§ Neutrogena SheerZinc Dry-Touch Sunscreen SPF 50
§ Drunk Elephant Umbra Sheer Physical Daily Defense SPF 30
§ Coola Mineral Sun Silk Crème SPF 30
§ Cyberderm Natural Simply Zinc Ultra Sun Whip SPF 50
§ Ren Clean Screen Mattifying Face Sunscreen SPF 30
§ Suntegrity Natural Mineral Sunscreen For Body
§ Kopari Sundaze Mineral Face Sunscreen SPF 30
§ Supergoop 100% Mineral Sunscreen Stick SPF 45
§ Badger Organic Sunscreen SPF 30
§ Clinique Sunscreen Fluid SPF 50
§ Glossier Invisible Shield SPF 30
§ Avène Spray SPF 50
To understand more about UV rays, please see the diagram below from www.skcin.org