Summer’s here and that means only one thing: the tropics transform into a beach-bum nation. Hands up if you’ll be flaunting your bikini-bod, sipping on margaritas, catching some salty air by the seashore! Jinx, we only live for the summer holidays too. But lounging by the pool wouldn’t be as fun without our BFF; sunscreen. Of course, you’ve heard of her but how many times have you ~ actually remembered ~ to apply SPF? Worse still, how many times have you skipped sunscreen cause ‘your face appears ghostly’ or ‘your foundation has SPF 30’? Not cool, hun.
We’re getting down to basics and putting all your sunscreen dilemmas to rest. Buh-bye sun tan. *drops mic*
When, how much and how often should one apply sunscreen?
The answer is simple: dermatologists say – always – whether it’s sunny, cloudy, or rainy you always need to stay protected. Ideally slather on a shot-glass worth of sunscreen evenly onto your entire body, a whole 20 minutes before stepping out into the sun. This will form a protective layer over the skin, saving your largest organ from sun damage (or worse) in the long run. If you’re indoors, reapply the same amount 20 minutes before stepping out again, and if you’re outdoors every 2-3 hours to protect yourself from harmful UV rays.
What are UVA and UVB rays and do sunscreens protect your skin from both?
Well, the more commonly heard UVB rays cause the skin to go red, leading to sunburn. You know the brown, we’ve either come to love (re: spray tan) or loathe. But UVA rays are the ones to watch out for since they cause photo-aging, dark spots and wrinkles. Moreover, it’s even more vital to note that both UVA and UVB rays increase the risk of skin cancer. So, it’s essential to look for a broad-spectrum sunscreen, as their formulas tend to block out both UVA/B rays in equal proportions.
What exactly is SPF and does a higher SPF mean I won’t get tanned?
SPF means Sun Protection Factor or the amount of time your skin will be protected from reddening on being exposed to the sun. Ideally, an SPF 30 would take you 30 times longer to burn your skin than if you weren’t wearing any sunscreen at all. But on the flip side, assuming a higher SPF factor does not guarantee your skin will stay protected for longer. In fact, sunblock is just one of the ways to shield yourself. It’s important to use a mix of many methods for sun defense; seeking shade, covered clothing, wide-brimmed hats, and sunglasses are essential.
Some sunscreens don’t say broad-spectrum but have PA +, ++, +++. Are they the same?
PA refers to an alternate rating system developed by Japan that also relates to the protection level against UVA rays. It’s widely used in Asian markets and is especially popular in K-Beauty skincare. The more + signs denote a higher level of security. Thus, PA + offers the least while PA++++ offers the highest UVA protection. So, whether you opt for the US/EU rating (broad-spectrum) or Japanese (PA), your best choice is to go in for a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30+. Alternatively, you could look for PA +++ or higher with SPF 50+
What are physical, mineral and chemical sunscreens?
Like the name suggests, physical sunscreens sit atop the skin or deflect sun rays, forming a barrier. Hence, the name physical sunscreen or mineral sunblock. The most common ingredients are zinc dioxide and titanium dioxide that literally scatter away UVA rays. Chemical sunscreens aka chemical absorbers, on the contrary, soak up the sun’s rays before they can penetrate the epidermis. Avobenzone, oxybenzone, and octinoxate are generally prevalent in chemical sunscreens.
So which sunscreen is best? And, more importantly, what should I buy?
Well, that depends on many factors such as your skin type – sensitive/acne-prone skin will work better with physical/mineral sunscreens as they won’t agitate the skin or block pores. Sun intensity – depending on where you spend most of your time indoors (in an office) or outdoors, go in for either sunscreen. Type of activity – swimming, cycling, running, or even running errands calls for chemical sunscreens as they’re more resistant to sweat. Side note: always run a patch test on your skin before settling down with one.
When should I apply sunscreen in my skincare routine?
Sunscreen should always feature last in your daytime Korean beauty skincare routine i.e. always AFTER moisturizing your face and BEFORE applying makeup. Wait for about 5 minutes after applying sunscreen so that’s it’s fully absorbed into your face (and neck) before continuing with your primer/foundation. It’s also advisable to look for foundations with in-built SPF for double-protection. But beware, skipping out on sunscreen daily (even if your BB cream claims it has SPF 30+) is an absolute no-no. Period.
All that’s left to do now is add Klairs Illuminating Supple Blemish Cream to cart. But if you’ve still got any queries on how to find the right sunscreen, holler at us.