Talk to any dermatologist and they’ll tell you that the humble sunscreen is your best friend when it comes to fighting sun damage, wrinkles and other signs of ageing. Not only are the sun’s rays (aka UV radiation) one of the biggest contributors to ageing skin, but the amount of UV radiation you’re exposed can also increased the rates of skin cancer.
There are three types of UV radiation, UVA, UVB and UVC. UVA radiation transmits pass the atmosphere and lingers freely on the earth’s surface. On the other hand, only 15% of UVB radiation passes through the ozone layer and comes into contact with our skin. Lastly, there is UVC which is fully absorbed by the earth’s ozone layer.
Although the sunscreen is one of the best ways to reduce your exposure to UVA and UVB radiation, what a lot of people don’t know is that not all sunscreens are created equal. Many will look at the SPF rating, but SPF only measures UVB – not UVA. If you want to ensure the full spectrum of UV radiation is covered, you should look out for sunscreens labelled “broad spectrum” which indicate they cover a sufficient amount of UVA and UVB.
All scientific data said and done, in the market right now, there are two two main types of sunscreens that you should know: chemical and physical sun protection.
Physical sunscreens are sunscreens that protect your skin by creating a physical barrier between your skin and the sun, either by blocking it or deflecting the suns rays. The two most common ingredients in physical sunscreens are zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, but may not protect against the full spectrum of UVA rays.
Physical sunscreens I like:
Invisible Zinc didn’t win the 2010 Beauty Award for nothing – it offers excellent protection with zinc oxide and even has a light tint to it. Whilst I think it’s too heavy for daily use if you have combination or oily skin, it’s a solid option if you’re at the beach or on a boat. It is also free from parabens, fragrance, titanium dioxide and mineral oil with two colour shades to choose from: Medium and Light.
This is one of the best physical sunscreens I’ve used (actually, it’s a mixed sunscreen – it’s got both physical and chemical ingredients, but for simplicity’s sake, let’s say it’s physical). Gives your skin a moisturiser and a healthy glow and best of all, it doesn’t leave a white cast on your face. It also contains ingredients that calms acne prone skin. Handy!
Chemical sunscreens are sunscreens that use artificial ingredients as a main UV filter. They mostly work by either absorbing sun rays or scattering run rays. Most sunscreens in the market now are chemical sunscreens, since they are more cosmetically elegant than physical sunscreens and don’t have that tell-tale white streak. If it’s a chemical sunscreen, it’ll most likely include Avobenzone (which protects again the full spectrum of UVA rays), Oxybenzone and/or Homosalate. Chemical suncreens offer more coverage against UVA and UVA rays and there is no doubt that it is easier to apply as most formulations are easily blended.
Chemical sunscreens I like:
A family favourite brand that many have grown up with in Australia, Le Tan gives us a lightweight and moisturising sunscreen that also has a slight tint. An affordable sunscreen / light coverage foundation, it has a decent matte finish with sheer coverage.
Easily a chemist favourite and something you can wear under a foundation for everyday use . This sunscreen with a SPF30+ is easy to apply and sinks into the skin for a smooth finish with its non-pore-clogging formula. The only con is that you’ll need a moisturiser under this.
What type of sun protection do you use and is it SPF15+, SPF30+ or higher?
A guest post by Arthur Chan, the sun protection-obessed editor of HommeStyler.com, a mens fashion and grooming blog.