How to Chose the Right Sunscreen

Applying sunscreen

Sun damage is no joke, and it can quite literally happen to anyone—regardless of skin type or tone—who is exposed to the sun (which, unless you’re completely nocturnal and never see the sun, is pretty much everyone). Even if you never get a full on sunburn, gradual buildup of minor, imperceptible (at first) sun damage can be a big concern overtime; regular exposure to the sun without adequate protection will increase your long-term risk for early wrinkling and sunspots, not to mention skin cancer.

As such, protecting yourself form the sun is vital, but Vine Vera knows that it can also be challenging. With so many sunscreens and sunscreen-containing options out there, it can be hard to know if you’re getting a good one. On top of that, it can be hard to match a sunscreen to your skin type, lifestyle, and preferences. Vine Vera knows this, which is why we have some helpful tips on finding the right sunscreen for you.

The acronym SPF stands for “sun protection factor,” and signifies how much ultraviolet (UV) radiation the product in question will block. You need at least SPF 30 to be adequately protected from UV radiation and avoid sun damage, but products do go higher, even upwards of SPF 50 in some cases.

Never rely on sunscreens with less than SPF 30, but if you have skin that’s especially sensitive and/or burns more easily than most, you might want to look for something with an even higher SPF.

Broad Spectrum
Ultraviolet radiation is broken up into two types, based on wavelength: UVA and UVB. Both types of radiation can cause damage, so to be adequately protected, you need protection from both. Look for products that say “broad-spectrum,” as this indicates full protection from both UVA and UVB radiation.

Chemical and Physical
Sunscreens are broken up into two categories based on how they work. Chemical sunscreens contain components that chemically react with UV rays when they’re hit by them, and spare your skin by essentially “consuming” the radiation in the reaction. Chemical sunscreens are the most commonly seen type in most products, and tend to be the lighter and less greasy of the two categories. They also only last so long, and need to be reapplied every couple hours, because the UV-reacting compounds are “used up” overtime when exposed to light.

Physical sunscreens tend to use zinc oxide or titanium dioxide as the active ingredients; these minerals reflect—rather than absorb—UV light, meaning they won’t break down overtime. You still need to reapply every couple hours, though, albeit for a different reason; they can easily rub off overtime. Physical sunscreens tend to be greasier-feeling, but they’re also much less likely to cause allergic reactions, so if you’re allergic to most sunscreens, try a physical instead of chemical sunscreen.

Sunscreen Combination Products
It’s quite common to find moisturizers, makeup, even bug repellant, with SPF in it. There are a few things you should keep in mind when it comes to these kinds of products.

First off, SPF doesn’t “stack.” If you use more than one product with SPF in it, you only get the benefit of the higher number. If you use an SPF 30 and then an SPF 15 product, you are only getting SPF 30-level protection, not 45.

Secondly, SPF in makeup is unlikely to be very helpful, because it’s a good idea to apply sunscreen directly to your clean face as the first layer of skincare. For this reason, moisturizers with SPF 30 or higher are a fabulous idea, but most other combinations aren’t.

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