Maybe it’s been a while since you’ve had to shop for a sunscreen, and let’s face it, all the lingo can be overwhelming. Here’s everything you need to know – and our top product picks:
UVA and UVB
We won’t bore you with all the technical talk. Basically UVA rays are ‘long’ and are responsible for skin aging. UVB rays on the other hand are ‘shorter’ and they cause you to burn or turn red. Choose a sunscreen that is labelled as broad-spectrum. This means it will protect against both and your skin will thank you for it in the long run.
Chemical vs physical
Chemical sunscreen filters are small particles that need to be absorbed into the skin so that it can absorb the rays and it should be applied at least 20 minutes before you go into the sun. Physical sunscreen filters can usually be identified as Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide and they are usually responsible for that white or ashy tinge you get when you apply sunscreen. The particles are big and deflect or block the UV rays.
15, 20, 30, 40, 50… SPF
Do all these numbers actually mean anything? Well, as a matter of fact they do. According to CANSA the SPF of a sunscreen indicates how much time you can spend in the sun before burning when protected by sunscreen, compared to when you have no sunscreen on. For instance, if it takes 5 minutes for your unprotected skin to start turning red, then in theory a SPF 30 sunscreen will prevent reddening 30 times longer. (5×30=150 minutes / 2 ½ hours)
But sunscreen should be applied as often as possible and not every two hours or so. Especially when you’re spending the day in the sun as most research shows that we rarely apply enough sunscreen when we do actually apply it.
Here are our top picks for face and body:
Words: Jana Wessels, Fairlady