How To Choose Right SPF

Snehal Phadtare Sep 13, 2022

In This Article

  • How Does Sunscreen Works?
  • Types Of Sunscreen
  • How To Choose The Right Sunscreen?
  • Sunscreen Usage Tips
  • Common Sunscreen Mistakes To Avoid

How does sunscreen works?

Sunscreen primarily works by blocking and absorbing UV rays through various physical and chemical particles. While the physical particles such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide help reflect UV radiation from the skin, the chemical ingredients in the sunscreen react with the radiation before it penetrates the skin. They also absorb the sun rays and release energy in the form of heat. choosing the right sunscreen can make a big difference in your skin care regimen. In the following section, we have listed the factors you must consider before choosing the right sunscreen for you.

Types Of Sunscreen

The active ingredients in sunscreens work by creating UV filters that keep harmful UV rays from penetrating the skin. There are two types of sunscreens – mineral sunscreens and chemical sunscreens. Each type uses a different mechanism for filtering UV rays and protecting the skin from damage.

Mineral Sunscreens 

Mineral sunscreens sit on top of the skin’s surface, acting as a physical blocker by deflecting and scattering UV rays away from the skin like tiny mirrors. Because they block UV rays at the surface level, mineral sunscreens protect against both UVA and UVB rays. Also, because mineral sunscreens create a physical barrier, they are effective as soon as they are applied, so there is no need to wait. Mineral sunscreens tend to have a whitish cast to them, and can be visible on the skin. Also, because they sit on the skin’s surface, mineral sunscreens can be rubbed, sweated, or rinsed off easily, which makes frequent reapplication a necessity.

Chemical Sunscreen

Chemical sunscreens are absorbed into your skin and sit in the deeper layers. They absorb UV rays and change them into heat, then release the heat from the skin. Since UV rays must penetrate the skin to reach these chemicals, chemical sunscreens may not protect against all UVA rays, which still causes damage to the deeper layers of the skin. Because chemical sunscreens take about 20 minutes to be effective, planning is required. Also, direct light caused the chemicals to be used up more quickly, so reapplication must be more frequent when you are in direct sunlight. The heat-releasing nature of chemical sunscreens can be problematic for sensitive and rosacea-prone skin, as well as for individuals with hyperpigmentation.

How To Choose The Right Sunscreen?

Consider SPF 
SPF is a measure of how much UVB light a sunscreen can filter out. Using sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 will help protect you from this daily exposure to UV rays. SPF 15 blocks about 93 percent of UVB rays, while SPF 30 blocks about 97 percent of UVB rays. It's important to apply enough sunscreen to any exposed area of skin every day. On days you're going to be outdoors for an extended period of time or at the beach or pool, we suggest putting a base coat of SPF 30 all over the body a half hour before leaving the house and then reapplying every two hours.

Attention To Your Skin Type
If you have acne or oily skin, make sure that your sunscreen is labelled as non-comedogenic which means that it has been shown not to block pores. If you have dry skin, look for moisturizers with sunscreen or sunscreens that contain hydrating ingredients. For sensitive skin, opt for a physical, or mineral, sunscreen. Physical sunscreen features zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to protect skin; these two ingredients won’t burn or sting eyes. They sit on top of your skin, forming a barrier to protect you.

Pick Broad Spectrum SPF
Pick a sunscreen with broad-spectrum coverage and SPF 30 to 50. It helps protect your skin better from sunburn and sun damage. It also better helps prevent UVA radiation. You may want to avoid products with a very high SPF (over 50). It is often believed that such products do not offer any extra protection and are expensive too.

Sunscreen Formulation
Sunscreen formulation typically refers to a sunscreen’s delivery format and affects how it feels and looks on an individual’s skin. There are four common sunscreen formulations available on the market like sunscreen sprays, lotions, gels and creams. Although each of these forms has its benefits, they can all offer sun protection if used right.

Water Resistance
When choosing the best sunscreen for any skin type, make sure the product is water-resistant. Sunscreen manufacturers are not legally allowed to make or claim an SPF product as ‘waterproof’. Water-resistant sunscreen means you’ll be protected while you swim, but you’ll need to reapply when you get out. For the best protection, apply a layer of sunscreen every 40-80 minutes.

Quality Of Ingredients
One of the most important things to look for in sunscreens is the list of ingredients. There are two types of sunscreens: chemical and physical. Chemical sunscreen ingredients, such as PABA (para-aminobenzoic acid) and cinnamates, absorb UV rays and convert the sun’s radiation into heat energy, whereas physical sunscreens (such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide) deflect and scatter the rays before they penetrate your skin. What you’ll use depends on your skin type and amount of sun exposure.

Sunscreen Usage Tips

  • Always wear sunscreen, whether it is summer, monsoon, winter or you are at indoor or outdoor.  
  • If you are in swimwear, apply about two tablespoons of sunscreen to the exposed parts of your body. If you use a sunscreen spray, make sure to apply an even sheen over the whole body.
  • Apply sunscreen to all exposed parts of the body, including your face, hands, feet, ears, neck, and top of the head (if your skin is exposed).
  • Make sure to put a base coat of SPF 15 or 30 all over the exposed parts at least half an hour before stepping into the sun. Reapply every two hours.
  • Ensure you reapply sunscreen after excessive sweating, swimming, or towelling off. Always follow the label guidelines for reapplication.

Common Sunscreen Mistakes To Avoid

  • Applying only in sunny weather.
  • Using an old bottle of sunscreen.
  • Only using spray sunscreen.
  • You don’t think you need it.
  • Not reapplying enough.
  • Not using enough sunscreen.
  • Using less than 30 SPF.
  • Only using sunscreen for protection.