Hopefully, sunscreen is part of your daily grooming routine, if not, here are some SPF facts when shopping for that essential beauty buy says editor Trudi Brewer.
Editor Trudi Brewer on TV3’s The Cafe with host Melanie Holmer
What is the difference between a chemical and physical sunscreen?
It's inaccurate to call any sunscreen “chemical-free.” It's better to name different sunscreens mineral or chemical. So to clarify what they do, mineral sunscreens contain ingredients such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, which create a barrier on the surface of that skin to reflect and scatter UV rays. While chemical screens contain ingredients such as oxybenzone and avobenzone, which absorb the UV rays and convert UV light into heat before it damages your skin.
What do the numbers mean on an SPF?
SPF, or sun protection factor, measures how much sun it takes to cause sunburn. An SPF of 30, (when used as directed), prevents 97 percent of UV rays from reaching your skin, while an SPF 50 will block only 98 percent. There is very little difference between a 30 and 50 SPF when it comes to sun protection. You must also take into account the burn time from the sun’s rays, e.g., if the burn time is 3 minutes, an SPF30 offers 90 minutes of sun protection. However, how much SPF you have applied is also in that equation. The recommended amount is two tablespoons to exposed areas of the face and body.
What about broad spectrum?
The sun emits different types of rays that damage the skin, ultraviolet A (UVA) are known as ageing rays, while ultraviolet B (UVB) are burning rays. Infrared radiation is felt as heat and causes skin burns. However it’s the UVA rays, that do the most damage to our skin, causing wrinkling and brown spots, and these rays do penetrate glass. Broad spectrum offers protection against all these rays.
What about you have dark skin do you need an SPF?
Skin cancer does not discriminate; your skin colouring does not dictate how much sunscreen you need or if you need it at all. According to the cancer society, skin cancer survival rates are lower in nonwhite populations, which may be due to the belief that darker skin tones don’t need sunscreen.
Is my sunscreen killing our ocean and coral reefs?
In May 2018, Hawaii was the first island to ban chemical sunscreen ingredients from SPF formulations namely oxybenzone and octinoxate, which comes into effect in 2021.
However, mineral sunscreens are not exempt. Early research shows microscopic-sized particles or nanoparticles of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide may also be harmful to coral reefs.
Some of the SPF’s to try this summer
Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel Lotion SPF50, $27.
Fast absorbing (10 seconds to be exact), with a fresh cucumber and melon scent, it's hydrating thanks to the blend of hyaluronic acid, nourishing vitamin E, and glycerin. The Helioplex sun safe technology is photostable, which means it doesn't break down under the sun. Also, with broad-spectrum protection from both UVA (ageing) and UVB (burning) rays, this water-like gel also leaves the skin looking and feeling slightly matte.
EltaMD UV Elements Broad-Spectrum SPF 44, $68.
Mineral sunscreens typically leave a nasty white cast on the skin, however, not this tinted offering from EltaMD. The hyaluronic acid hydrates and the flattering beige tint offers a BB cream-like coverage. This screen is ideal for post-laser or skin treatments and ideal for anyone with sensitive skin.
Sebamed Suncare Multi Protect Sun Spray SPF30, $23.
This lotion-like spray will filter both UVA and UVB rays thanks to micro-pigments that prevent sunlight irritating the skin. The added benefit of vitamin E and provitamin B5 strengthen the skin’s barrier, which helps maintain the skin’s essential pH balance. It's water-resistant, and alcohol, paraben, paraffin, and oil-free. Another bonus this is one of the first screens to be coral reef safe.
Skinnies River Rascal Kids SPF50, $40
If you spend summer chasing kids around the pool wrestling with them to apply sunscreen, this waterless gel will change your life. The Organogel technology forms a film on the skin, holding the UV filters in place. It feels lightweight, appears invisible and another bonus, a little of this SPF goes a long way - so you can apply it in seconds!