Sunscreen is an irreplaceable part of any daytime skincare regime. It not only shields the skin against harmful UV rays but also plays a multi-fold role in managing its health, they can majorly affect your skin over time – in all the right ways.
We are constantly exposed to ultraviolet and infrared rays throughout the day, which damage our skin in multiple ways. However, a good sunscreen can protect us from these harmful environmental aggressors and prevent tanning, sunburns and sun spots. It also plays a major role in reducing the appearance of signs of ageing like fine lines, wrinkles, dark spots and sagging. Known for evening out skin tone and protecting skin proteins (collagen, keratin, elastin) that contribute to keeping the skin healthy and smooth, sunscreens also reduce the risk of skin cancer, especially melanoma.
How to choose sunscreens?
Here are a few factors to consider while looking for the best sunscreen on the market.
1. Skin type
It is always recommended to choose a skincare product as per your skin type. If you have dry skin, creamy and moisturising formulas should be your go-to. Similarly, if you have oily or acne-prone skin, gel or water-based non-comedogenic formulas should be your pick. If you have sensitive and irritated skin, opt for sunscreens that are formulated without harsh chemicals, toxins and fragrances.
Considering the Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of your sunscreen is key. Sunlight comprises two types of ultraviolet rays — A (affecting your skin beneath the surface) and B (shorter rays that cause sunburns). Hence, always choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects the skin from both UVA and UVB rays and that comes with an SPF of at least 30 to 50 or higher.
3. Resistant formulas
Try choosing a formula that’s water and sweat-resistant, especially if you’re looking for a sunscreen you could wear for outdoor activities or a day out at the beach.
4. The type and ingredients
There are two types of sunscreens — physical (mineral) and chemical. Physical or mineral sunscreens (primarily made with FDA-approved ingredients zinc oxide and titanium dioxide) create a protective barrier on the skin that deflects UV rays from the body. Whereas, chemical sunscreens absorb the UV rays and convert them into heat so that they don’t harm the skin. You can always choose the type as per your preference.
How to select a sunscreen based on your skin type
Choosing a sunscreen as per your skin type is of utmost importance and here are a few things to keep in mind that can help you do so.
- If you have dry skin, choose a moisturiser that’s infused with broad-spectrum SPF or a sunscreen that’s also formulated with hydrating ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, ceramides and glycerin.
- If you have an oily and acne-prone skin type, a lightweight gel-based sunscreen that’s also non-comedogenic and non-acnegenic should be your go to.
- For people with sensitive skin, a mineral (physical) sunscreen that’s formulated with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide or both would prove beneficial. These ingredients don’t irritate the skin unlike chemical filters. Ensure that the product is hypoallergenic, non-comedogenic and dermatologist-tested. You can also look for calming ingredients like aloe vera, Centella Asiatica, green tea, hyaluronic acid and niacinamide in the formulation.
How to use sunscreens?
You should use sunscreen every day as the last step of your skincare routine 20 to 30 minutes before stepping out during the day. Also ensure to reapply it every two to three hours, especially when you’ll be exposed to the sun for long. Not to forget sunscreens should be used 365 days a year (yes, even in winter).
The importance of using a sunscreen every single day is simply non-negotiable and cannot be debated over, even for people with darker skin tones. It is an investment worth making, the advantages of which you’d start noticing after consistent use.
Check out some of the best sunscreens for different skin types
(Main and Featured Image Courtesy: CeraVe)
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- CeraVe Hydrating Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50
- Avène Very High Protection SPF 50+ Cream
- Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen
- Shiseido Global Suncare The Perfect Protector
- Aveeno Positively Mineral Sensitive Skin Sunscreen
- Colorescience Sunforgettable Total Protection Brush-On Sunscreen
- EltaMD UV Clear Facial Sunscreen
- La Shield SPF 40 & PA+++ Sunscreen Gel
- Neutrogena Sheer Zinc Dry Touch Sunscreen
- Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Niacinamide Sunscreen
- Laneige Watery Sun Cream
- Bioré UV Aqua Rich Watery Gel SPF 50+ PA++++
- La Roche-Posay Anthelios SPF 50+
- Isdin Fotoprotector Fusion Water SPF 50
A broad-spectrum mineral sunscreen that’s lightweight and non-greasy, the CeraVe sunscreen is loaded with SPF 50 and does not irritate the skin. It is suitable for sensitive skin types and is formulated with titanium dioxide and zinc oxide that form a protective barrier on the skin to reflect UVA and UVB rays. It also contains three essential ceramides that restore the skin’s natural barrier and lock in moisture.
Image: Courtesy CeraVe
This sunscreen by Avène is a broad-spectrum UVB-UVA high-protection sunscreen that’s ideal for dry and sensitive skin. Its formulation is a combination of a stable and effective patented filter system, a unique antioxidant complex (for cellular protection) and Avène Thermal Spring Water (for skin soothing and softening properties). It has a velvety smooth texture that feels comfortable on the skin. The sunscreen has a dry touch and is water-resistant and alcohol-free.
Image: Courtesy Avène
The Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen is a primer and sunscreen-in-one that preps your skin for makeup while also protecting it with broad spectrum SPF 40. It has an antioxidant-rich, oil-free formula that glides onto the skin effortlessly and leaves a velvety finish sans any shine. It shields your skin from both sun and blue light emitting from the phones and computers.
Image: Courtesy Sephora
A super lightweight and quick absorbing sunscreen that protects your skin from both UVA and UVB rays, dust, soot and dryness, the Perfect Protector by Shisiedo comes with SPF 50+ PA++++. It is infused with SynchroShield technology that strengthens the sunscreen layer on the skin when exposed to water, sweat and heat. This means that this product is suitable for even extreme weather conditions. Additionally, it also prevents fine lines, wrinkles and dark spots caused by the harmful UV rays.
Image: Courtesy Sephora
Made with naturally sourced 100 percent zinc oxide and nourishing oat, the Aveeno Mineral Sunscreen is safe for even the most sensitive skin. It has a lightweight and oil-free finish that feels comfortable on the skin. This sunscreen is non-comedogenic and is created with no fragrance, parabens or phthalates.
Image: Courtesy Aveeno
One of the best sunscreens that help in re-application over makeup is the Sunforgettable Total Protection Brush-On Sunscreen by Colorescience. It is a powerful, all-mineral sunscreen that’s powered by EnviroScreen Technology that lends optimum protection in a single on-the-go application. It is a 100 percent chemical-free sunscreen that’s easy to carry and re-apply as many times as you like.
Image: Courtesy Nordstrom
The EltaMD UV Clear Facial Sunscreen is one of the best ones out there. Formulated with broad spectrum SPF 46, it promotes healthier-looking skin and is suitable for all skin types especially, the ones prone to acne, rosacea and hyperpigmentation. Formulated with niacinamide and transparent zinc oxide, it is lightweight, oil-free and water-resistant while the antioxidants help in neutralising radicals to fight signs of ageing.
Image: Courtesy Amazon
With broad-spectrum SPF 40 PA+++, the La Shield Sunscreen Gel is one of the most popular sunscreens out there. Its oil-free and sweat-proof formula gives a matte finish that does not leave a white cast. This mineral sunscreen also improves skin hydration while lending it a youthful radiance. It is made without parabens and is ideal for all skin types, including acne-prone skin.
Image: Courtesy Amazon
The Neutrogena Sheer Zinc Dry-Touch Sunscreen is formulated with 100 percent zinc oxide that provides powerful protection against sun damage. Non-comedogenic and hypoallergenic, this water and sweat-resistant face and body sunscreen leave a weightless and non-shiny finish on the skin. It spreads easily and gets absorbed quickly into the skin and is even suitable for sensitive skin.
Image: Courtesy Amazon
The Watermelon Glow Niacinamide Sunscreen is a chemical and mineral hybrid that’s gentle on the skin, hydrates and boosts glow. Enriched with niacinamide, hyaluronic acid and aloe, this broad-spectrum SPF 50 lotion leaves no white cast and feels comfortable on the skin. Safe for even sensitive skin, it is non-comedogenic, non-acnegenic and ophthalmologist-tested.
Image: Courtesy Sephora
The Laneige Watery Sun Cream is one of the best sunscreens for dry skin, owing to its lightweight texture and moisturising properties. Apart from protecting the skin from the sun it also maintains the skin’s moisture barrier all day long. With SPF 50+ PA++++, it is mild yet powerful and spreads easily on the skin.
Image: Courtesy Laneige
The Bioré sunscreen is a light, watery gel that spreads easily and gets absorbed instantly into the skin. It is powered by a Micro Defence Formulation that has micro-sized UV-Cut capsules that ensures full coverage down to micro-level crevices that are invisible to the naked eye. Its formula also hydrates the skin on application, is waterproof and is allergy-tested.
Image: Courtesy Bioré
One of the best sunscreens for sensitive skin, the La Roche-Posay Anthelios SPF 50+ offers high, photostable UVA and UVB protection. Its ultra-light fluid texture is non-greasy and gives a smooth finish. It further prevents the skin from sun-induced pigmentation, sunburns, cell damage and skin reactions. Tested by dermatologists, this sunscreen is free from parabens and fragrances and does not clog pores.
Image: Courtesy La Roche-Posay
An ultra-light sunscreen for everyday use that’s perfect for outdoor activities, the Isdin Fotoprotector Fusion Water is a water-phased facial sunscreen. Featuring SPF 50, this sunscreen offers intense hydration and absorption that guarantees strong protection against UV rays. Also formulated with hyaluronic acid, it is a non-comedogenic sunscreen that’s oil-free and hypoallergenic.
Image: Courtesy Amazon
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Answer: Essentially, one should reapply sunscreen every two hours, especially when outdoors.
Answer: As effective as they are, sunscreens might have a negative impact if they aren’t used according to your skin type. For instance, if a person with oily and acne-prone skin uses a cream-based, non-comedogenic sunscreen, it is bound to aggravate the acne situation. Similarly, if people with sensitive skin use a sunscreen that’s formulated with alcohol and fragrances, it might irritate the skin. Non-hypoallergenic sunscreens can further fortify allergies. Similarly, a sunscreen that’s not ophthalmologist-tested might sting the eye and cause pain and irritation.
Answer: Yes, you need to wear sunscreen even when indoors because you are guaranteed to come in contact with UV rays through windows and open doors that let natural light in. Additionally, the blue light from screens also has damaging effects on the skin that a sunblock can protect you from.
Answer: Zinc oxide sunscreens provide you with broad-spectrum protection. The ingredient is also approved not just by dermatologists but also by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). A zinc oxide-infused sunscreen also makes for a safer choice for people with sensitive skin.
Answer: Yes, some sunscreens resist sweat and stay in place even after partaking in outdoor physical activities.