From ingredients to top 5 best sunscreen, we got you covered
Sunscreens have become such a complicated product that one cannot simply grab a bottle on the shelf that says “sunscreen” and has the word “SPF” and start using applying the product. Maybe ten years ago, that was the norm. Today, however, one does not “get protected from the sun” with just any sun protection product. There are so many more aspects to consider when choosing a sunscreen.
Misconceptions about sunscreens
First, let’s take a look at the sunscreen myths so that we can easily jump into the valid facts.
“Sunscreen isn’t always necessary”
Many people believe the only time they should grab that tube is during summer on the beach or pool. The only problem is that the sun remains constant every day, 365 days a year. It’s not as if we escape the sun during the other months or seasons.
Another misconception is that sunscreen isn’t necessary on cloudy days. The truth is, as long as there is light, there are Ultraviolet rays which, when taken in high amounts, is harmful to the skin.
“I have darker skin; therefore, I don’t need sunscreen”
While it is true that melanin, the pigment that gives us our color, works at diffusing UVB rays, it does not mean that those with darker skin could skip the sunscreen.
Those with darker skin still need to use a full spectrum sunscreen because melanin does not block UVA rays that lead to premature skin, aging, and wrinkles. Melanin also has a limited capability in protecting the skin and is lacking when it comes to extreme sun exposure.
“I can’t tan with sunscreen on”
The purpose of sunscreen is to protect our skin from UVA and UVB rays, but it eventually wears off. This is a reason why people are advised to reapply sunscreen multiple times a day. Sunburn is still possible even with sunscreen on.
“I can’t get vitamin D with sunscreen on”
The sun-vitamin, vitamin D, is a vital nutrient we must acquire on a daily basis. Although sunscreen provides a layer of protection against sun rays, sunlight can still penetrate through clothing and the eventual wearing off of the sunscreen.
Furthermore, we only need about 5 to 30 minutes of sun exposure per day to obtain the needed amount of vitamin D in the body; so we must continue wearing sunscreen.
“Makeup is enough since it has SPF already”
It is true that makeup nowadays has SPF and provides a layer of protection for our skin; however, it is not enough. Substituting sunscreen with foundation or primer that has SPF protection will fall short in defending our skin from harmful rays. Makeup should only be treated as an additional layer of defense.
“All sunscreen is the same”
As mentioned earlier, sunscreen has become versatile in recent years. One bottle will have certain active ingredients and protect us from UVA and UVB rays while others provide a fuller spectrum of protection suited for all skin types. These will be discussed further later on.
Look for these when choosing a sunscreen
Below are the main characteristics to consider when it comes to choosing sunscreen.
The sun protection factor (SPF) is the most basic consideration in choosing sunscreen. Most dermatologists recommend using one with an SPF of at least 30. The higher, the better, especially if you will be out under the sun for long periods.
Choose a sunscreen that says ‘broad spectrum’ on the label. The sun emits several types of ultraviolet light and sunscreen the offers broad-spectrum protection will block out ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. Sunscreen with broad-spectrum filters a broader range of wavelengths that could otherwise harm the skin.
3. Chemical vs. Physical
There are two types of sunscreens: those made with chemical sun blockers or those with physical ones. Chemical sunblock is made with a variety of chemicals that work in absorbing UV rays into the skin tissue. Once absorbed by the skin, the rays extend into longer wavelengths, which is less harmful to the skin.
Physical or mineral sunscreens, however, stay on the surface of the skin and reflect light. There are only two types of physical sunscreens that have been FDA-approved – zinc oxide and titanium oxide.
Sunscreens come in different textures such as creams, gels, sprays, and lotions. The choice is highly based on preference as long as the SPF is high enough, and it protects on a broad spectrum.
Gels and sprays are perfect for oily skin types, while creams are recommended for dry skin. When choosing the formulation of the sunscreen, make sure you get one that you feel comfortable wearing every day and something that goes well with makeup.
5. Water resistance
Sunblock, as we have already learned, is not just for the water. Go for a sunscreen that is water-resistant, so that even if you sweat under the sun, you’re still protected. Take note of how long the product stays on the skin and try to stay committed in reapplication.
Because we live in a “we care for skincare” era, sunscreens also come with added benefits besides sun protection. Antioxidants are something to look out for when choosing sunscreen. The sun depletes our skin’s antioxidants, so we need that extra dose from our topical products. It’s also nice to know that what we apply on our skin not only protects but also strengthens and repairs the skin.
Tips on picking “The One” sunscreen
One thing to consider when choosing your sunscreen is your skin complexion. Remember that those with browner or darker skin complexions are not exempted from taking sunscreen even though they are less prone to sunburn.
Those with darker complexions usually prefer gel or spray type sunscreen because it leaves less white blotches on the skin and dries up faster. The formula blends seamlessly into pigmented skin. Lightweight sun care that comes in a transparent formula is best for darker skin.
Skin type must also be noted when picking your sunscreen.
- Skin prone to allergies, acne, and rosacea – avoid sunscreen with preservatives or fragrances and those with PABA or oxybenzone. Those with sensitive skin also find using gel-type sunblock more comfortable to wear. It is best to steer clear from cream-type sunscreen.
- Dry skin – Moisture is essential for those with dry skin; therefore, try to look for those with lanolin, oils, and silicons like dimethicone. Those with dry skin typically opt for creams, lotions, or ointments.
- Fair skin or those with a history of skin cancer or melasma – Those that fall in this category must take special note on the SPF of sunscreen and are advised to choose one with over SPF30 for daily protection. They must also remember to reapply diligently, especially if remaining outdoors, to ensure maximum protection.
Top 5 choices
1. EltaMD UV Clear Broad Spectrum SPF 46
This sunscreen is dermatologist recommended for oily and acne-prone skin. It has a lightweight formulation and without fragrances that could irritate the skin and cause breakouts. Plus, it has hyaluronic acid that gives the perfect amount of moisture to oily skin and lactic acid to reduce shine and clear pores.
2. Farmacy Green screen Daily Environmental Protector
This mineral-based sunscreen is great on darker skin because of its lightweight formula. It contains titanium dioxide and zinc oxide for that extra layer of protection from the sun’s rays. No need to worry about chemicals because the ingredients are naturally-derived for that invisible yet powerful coverage.
3. La Roche-Posay Anthelios 50 Mineral Ultra-Light Sunscreen Fluid SPF 50
As mentioned earlier, those with fair or sensitive skin need a sunscreen that has the highest level SPF possible. It is ultra-sheer and light, so it sinks to the skin quickly, and you barely feel like you’re wearing anything. No need to worry about applying makeup on top because it still works great as a base. The vitamin E oil in the product helps to moisturize the skin without the risk of irritation.
4. Colorescience Sunforgettable Loose Mineral Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 30
This mineral powder sunscreen was made especially for those who do not like gel, cream or lotion-types of sunscreen. It looks and feels like loose powder foundation but with the needed protection from the sun!
5. Neutrogena Healthy Defense Daily Moisturizer with Broad Spectrum SPF 50 Sunscreen
This budget-friendly sunscreen provides broad-spectrum protection plus a whopping SPF 50 for those who want to take ensure they are getting more than enough sun protection. It is enriched with antioxidants and vitamin E to help prevent signs of aging, fine lines, and wrinkles.
Picking a sunscreen that works for you is really a trial and error process. But once you’ve tried one that your skin adores, be sure to stock up on this essential product.