How to Choose the Right Sunscreen
Everyone loves a day at the beach, but your cleanser, toner, and moisturizer won’t protect you from the sun. If you want to keep your skin healthy, you need SPF.
Choosing the right sunscreen protects you from more than the pain of sunburns. It lowers your risk of skin cancer, helps prevent heat exhaustion, and prevents hyperpigmentation (otherwise known as dark spots).
But not just any SPF will do. We’re here to help you choose the right one for your skin, so you get max sun protection.
What Does SPF Even Mean?
Many Asian cultures know how important sun protection is. The US, on the other hand, has some catching up to do. Even compared to other Western countries, it doesn’t have as many active ingredients as it could to protect your skin.
SPF stands for sun protection factor. To get the SPF, divide how many seconds it takes for skin to burn with sunscreen by how many seconds it takes to burn without it. If your skin takes 500 seconds to burn with sunscreen but 10 without it, 500 divided by 10 is 50. That means you have SPF 50 sunscreen.
The higher the SPF, the more protection your skin has against burning in the sun. This isn’t something you should do on your own, though—that’s what the manufacturers test in their labs before their sunscreen hits the shelves.
That said, sunscreen isn’t perfect. SPF 100 does not mean you have 100% protection. Sunscreen also doesn’t protect you against UV rays, and it can’t completely prevent a sunburn, especially if you’re spending long hours outside in the summer sun.
Match Your Sunscreen to Your Skin
It doesn’t matter your skin tone—anyone can get skin cancer if they don’t wear sunscreen. Still, not all sunscreens protect everyone the same way. That’s why it’s important to know your skin type and know what type of protection it needs.
If you’ve got normal type skin, you can probably use any sunscreen you want, as long as it has a high enough SPF to protect you. However, most skin types need to look for these things:
- Oil or water: Like many skincare products, sunscreen often comes in an oil- or water-based formula. You can find some gel types, too. If you’ve got oily skin, go for a water-based or gel sunscreen to avoid clogging pores. Niacinamide, tea tree oil, and green tea can all help prevent oiliness from your sunscreen.
- Moisturizing: People with dry skin should look for a sunscreen that also moisturizes their skin. Ceramides, hyaluronic acid, and even honey will give you a hydrating boost while keeping you safe from the sun.
- Check ingredients: Your sunscreen is supposed to protect you. You don’t want to get one that irritates and harms your skin. Mineral sunscreen works well for people with sensitive or acne-prone skin. It’s less likely to have things like fragrances, alcohol, and other potentially harmful ingredients.
What Else to Look for in Your SPF
You might not need the same sunscreen all your life. Be prepared to change your sunscreen type over the years, and don’t settle for one that doesn’t work right.
A few more things to keep in mind when choosing your sunscreen:
- Don’t get burned by your expired sunscreen. The older your it is, the less it protects you.
- Lay it on thick to get the best out of your sunscreen.
- If you use a water-based, gel, spray, or any type of sunscreen that isn’t your typical cream, shake it before you use it. Sunscreen can settle or separate, and you want full protection for your skin.
Check out our store for products that work with your sunscreen to give you the most protection from the sun. No matter what skin type you have, it can only look and feel healthier with the right SPF. We also give 10% of proceeds from your purchase to a cause that aligns with our values!
Sarah Wood - August 10, 2021
“What Does the SPF Rating Really Mean?” Australian Academy of Science. https://www.science.org.au/curious/people-medicine/what-does-spf-rating-really-mean. Accessed 2 August 2021.
Locke, Maren C., MD. “How to Pick Out a Sunscreen Like a Dermatologist.” Carlyle Dermatology. https://carlyledermatology.com/posts/blog/how-to-pick-out-a-sunscreen-like-a-dermatologist/. Accessed 2 August 2021.
“Find Your Sunscreen Soulmate: 15 Options Based on Skin Types.” Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/beauty-skin-care/sunscreen-skin-type#Skin-Concern-#5:-Acne-prone-skin. Accessed 2 August 2021.