As soon as the sun started to peek out behind the clouds, I jumped at my closest tube of sunscreen and started to apply it liberally on my skin. (Of course it was like jumping into a ball pit because I have so many! – you can never have too much sun protection.)
Growing up in Australia, the phrase “slip, slop, slap” was drilled into my brain and became annoyingly memorable like the alphabet.
But I know the how harming the sun’s rays can be and how important it is to protect yourself from both UVA and UVB rays.
Emma Hobson, the Education Manager for the International Dermal Institute and Dermalogica says it is always recommended to reapply sun protection liberally within a two hour period.
“Since sun screen can wear off, be rubbed off or sweated off the skin, it’s suggested not to relay on the maximum time frame from a SPF factor,” she says.
I know that there are so many different sunscreens on the market that it can be a little confusing. (I kinda love it though because it means I have an excuse to buy more beauty products to “test the difference”.)
I mean there’s physical and chemical sunscreens, sport sunscreens and sunscreens that vary from 15+ to 50+ sun protection.
So what does it all mean?
Physical v chemical sunscreens
“Physical sunscreens sit on the surface of the skin and reflect the UV rays Vs chemical sun screens which absorb the UV rays and break the energy waves down within the skin,” says Emma.
“One is not better than the other necessary in performance, but physical sunscreens are recommend for those with more sensitive skin as they seem to tolerate the physical UV screening agents over the chemical ones.”
Some people may however not like physical sunscreens due to its feeling of slight ‘chalkiness’, but it’s all about personal taste.
SPF 30 v SPF 50
Jade, the beauty therapist at RY.com.au, says that the higher the SPF the better as this measures the sunscreens ability to prevent UVB, which is responsible for sunburn.
“A SPF 30 keeps out 97% of UVB rays and SPF 50 keeps out 98% of UVB rays. It is a small difference but the more protection you can get the better especially if skin cancer runs in your family.”
Sunscreen for face v sunscreen for body
“You certainly can buy sunscreen that can be used both on the face and the body,” says Emma.
“The main difference will be in the product function, to either just act as a sun screen or be a skin treatment product. Many sun screens now double up as a facial moisturisers, being SPF15-50.
“The added benefit being the moisturiser is also working to improve your skin condition at the same time, e.g. an oil free, light weight matiffying moisturiser with anti-bacterial ingredients and an SPF30 is perfect for an oily skin with breakouts, often people with oily skins dislikes wearing a sun screen as they feel too heavy and can give the more spots, (because they contain comedogenic ingredients).”
Sports sunscreens v normal sunscreens
Some sports sunscreens are designed not only oil-free so they are lightweight and absorb easily into the skin, they can also be very water resistant, which means they work better if you tend to sweat a lot or you are in the water outdoors. Water resistant has a 40 minute time frame of effectiveness whereas very water resistant is 80 minutes.
So to sum it up, what should you look for?
- Every sunscreen product in Australia must come with an AUST L number on the packaging, which means it has been approved and registered with the TGA (Therapeutic goods association).
- The sunscreen is fragrance free. Fragrance is not only a known skin sensitising agent it also can make the skin photo sensitive (cause pigmentation)
- It is board spectrum so cuts out not only UVB but UVA too
- It contains a healthy dose of anti-oxidants, which are vital to help protect your skin from oxidative stress from UV. Look for Oleosome technology, fantastic way of encapsulating antioxidants so they remain ‘fresh and potent’ and release only on the point of exposure to UV rays.
- It’s non comedogenic (won’t give you breakouts)
- SPF 30-50
- It’s easy to apply, non-greasy and sticky.
- Adhere stringently to the use by date, and ensure you follow the symbol of the open jar on the side of the packaging which tells you how long you can safely use the product after opening.