βœ“ Evidence Based

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βœ“ Evidence Based

This post has references

How To Choose a Sunscreen - 5 Key Points

Ah, sunscreen β€” the number one product you must have in your arsenal if you want to keep your skin from prematurely aging! 

Yes, you heard that right. Being consistent and diligent in your AM and PM routine is excellent. But not applying sunscreen can make all of your efforts go to waste. 

Sun is the main cause for premature aging of the skin, and sunscreen is the best protection we can rely on. So, going to the beach? Shopping? Heading out for a fun day with friends? Don't forget to wear your sunscreen!

With how important sunscreen is, it is equally important to consider the factors in choosing sunscreen. Read on below for 5 major factors in providing your face full-on sun protection.

1. Price per ml

Expensive sunscreens are not necessarily the best

The first factor to keep in mind in choosing sunscreen is the price per ml. Why consider the ml? Some sunscreen can seem cheap because of the low price. But once you check how much product you get, you might be surprised! So, in choosing sunscreen, consider the cost per ml and compare multiple brands.

Another thing to keep in mind: just because sunscreen is expensive AF, does not necessarily mean it is more effective than a cheaper product. Expensive brands can make you feel comfortable with a false sense of security or just because they might smell better. 

More often than not, a delicious aroma means that the manufacturer has added unnecessary and possibly irritating chemicals to their products β€” to make it more enticing because of the scent.

Read on further in this list to evaluate if that expensive sunscreen is worth all the $$$.

2. Date of Expiration

Expiration Date of Sunscreen

Depending on how long you have been on the skin care game, checking the date of expiration on our products comes naturally.

Using a product past its expiration date can cause severe harm, as the ingredients tend to degrade with time. Along with this, sunscreen will lose its efficacy once expired. So, not only do you get a product with possibly harmful effects, but you also get no protection whatsoever from the sun.

Although sunscreen is required to last at least 3 years, to ensure yours is totally effective and not harmful, it's a good idea to replace it every year.

3. SPF Rating

SPF-How-To-Choose-a-sunscreen

Always check the SPF rating when choosing sunscreen. You will easily find this indicated on the product's label.

The American Academy of Dermatology recommends selecting a sunscreen with an SPF rating of 30 or higher. This SPF rating blocks 97 percent of the sun's UVB rays. UVB rays (or burning rays) are the primary cause of sunburn and are blocked by window glass. A higher number than 30 can deflect slightly more of the sun's UVB rays, but no sunscreen can block 100 percent of the sun's UVB rays.

It is also important to remember that high-number SPFs last the same amount of time as low-number SPFs. Meaning, reapply, reapply, and reapply!

A high-number SPF does not allow you to spend additional time outdoors without reapplication. Sunscreens should be reapplied approximately every two hours when outdoors, even on cloudy days, and after swimming or sweating, according to the directions on the bottle.

4. Broad Spectrum

How to Choose a Sunscreen - Broad Spectrum Sunscreen Protects From UVB and UVA Rays

Here is another vital point to keep in mind in choosing sunscreen β€” is your sunscreen broad spectrum?

Two types of sunlight reach the earth β€” UVA and UVB rays. Even if you have a sunscreen with a good SPF rating that keeps UVB rays at bay, it is not enough to protect your skin from the damaging UVA rays. 

UVA rays are longer wavelengths of sunlight, which is in up to 95% of all UV light reaching the earth's surface. They are long enough to reach the skin's dermis (dermal layer), damaging elastic tissue, and collagen. 

While UVB rays are the primary cause of sunburn, UVA rays can prematurely age your skin β€” causing wrinkles and age spots! Also, unlike UVB that cannot pass through glass, UVA can. 

So to make sure you are protected from both UVB and UVA rays, make sure you choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen.

5. Physical vs. Chemical Formulation

How to Choose a Sunscreen Physical vs Chemical Sunscreen

What? There are two types of sunscreen formulation? Why, yes, yes, there is. And we must distinguish the two, so we can consider which is best for our sun protection needs.

Physical sunscreens (also called mineral) contain active mineral ingredients, such as titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. This type of sunscreens work as a shield, sitting on the top of the skin and blocking the damaging sun rays. Those with sensitive skin should opt for this type of sunscreen as it is less likely to cause irritation.

Chemical sunscreens absorb the sun's rays. They contain one or more of the following active ingredients: oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate, and octinoxate. Those who dislike the white-cast physical sunscreens leave will appreciate chemical sunscreens. This formulation tends to be easier to rub into the skin without leaving a white residue.

Both of these formulations offer protection against both UVB and UVA rays. They also both have their pros and cons. Let's have a look here:

Physical sunscreen pros:
βœ”οΈ Naturally broad spectrum
βœ”οΈ Doesn't cause stinging irritation on skin
βœ”οΈ Less likely to be pore-clogging
βœ” Longer shelf-life

Chemical sunscreen pros:
βœ”οΈ Spreads easily
βœ”οΈ It is often water-resistant
βœ”οΈ Sinks good in the skin
βœ”οΈ Easy to use under makeup

Physical sunscreen cons:
❌ Can sweat off and rinse easily
❌ More frequent replication is needed
❌ Could be to chalky for use under makeup
❌ It is quite thick which makes it harder to spread evenly

Chemical sunscreen cons:
❌ Can cause brown spots and discoloration due to the higher skin temperature
❌ Increased chances for stinging and irritation (for both eyes and skin)
❌ Some ingredients are banned for posing a risk of degrading coral reef when worn in the ocean
❌ Could be pore-clogging

Note: If you have a particular skin condition, you should seek your dermatologist's opinion before choosing sunscreen.

Final Thoughts

Yes, sunscreen can seem like a childish product β€” reminding you of times by the beach with mom running after you, to slather on your skin this thick white cream. But you should actually thank your mom if she did this!

Sunlight is the number one reason your skin will age prematurely. Once you neglect sunscreen, no amount of anti-aging serums and other formulations can save you from the sun.

Ain't that enough reason to grab a tube of good sunscreen? Make sure you wear it EVERY day, regardless of the season β€” and even if you're just at home. Get that sun protection all year round!

I hope after reading this post, you feel more knowledgeable about choosing sunscreen. 

Which do you prefer, physical or chemical sunscreens? Any products you want to share? Don't forget to drop by in the comments below!

Thank you very much for reading this post, and I'll talk to you in the next one!

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