Growing up, I was always one of those kids that hated sunscreen or sunblock of any type. From the white-cast, to the thickness of the product as you’re applying it, to looking greasy immediately after; it was not a pleasant experience overall. Born on a tropical island, I was constantly at the beach, frolicking carelessly under the hot sun then going home with less of a light tan and more of a sunburn and galaxies of freckles on my skin.
Sunscreen to suit your needs.
Fast forward to today, sunscreens have evolved to cosmetically elegant concoctions that not only protect your skin from the damaging rays of the sun but actually contain ingredients that provide a number of multiple benefits. Do you want a no frills, straightforward sunscreen? Or do you want your sunscreen full of antioxidants to help fight against free-radical damage in your skin? Are you looking for some coverage or a light tint while blocking sun rays? Or, do you want that coveted ‘dewy dumpling’ look? (I, for one, am never opposed to looking like a glazed doughnut but there is a fine line between looking dewy and looking downright greasy.)
Always remember to reapply, reapply, reapply!
No matter what you’re looking for in a sunscreen, the best sunscreen is the one you wear ON A DAILY BASIS. Yes, whether it’s in the winter, on a rainy or cloudy day, sunscreen should be worn daily, consistently and re-applied multiple times a day. I know most of us love a good, healthy-looking tan or as @nathanwpylestrangeplanet would say, “I crave star damage.” However, protecting our skin is super important. After all, it is the largest organ in our body.
So, what are the 10 best things I consider when buying a sunscreen.
Let me start by revealing the best time of year I know whether a sunscreen works for me or not. Can you guess? Yes! Summer. As I’m writing this, we are in the midst of summer and as much as I enjoy this season, I find myself constantly hot, sweaty and wanting to feel nothing on my face except for a light, cool breeze. I have oily to combination skin that is also dehydrated, acne-prone and sensitive.
I want a sunscreen that is:
- Broad-spectrum (protection against both UVA and UVB rays).
- SPF value higher than 30 (I prefer SPF 50) or PA+++/++++.
- Formula: lightweight, non-sticky, smooth and easy to apply and lastly, non-greasy (oil-free is preferable).
- No white-cast.
- Non-irritating (check for any sensitizing or allergy-inducing ingredients).
- Fragrance-free (non-scented).
- Being water and sweat resistant is an important factor too especially if you’re headed to the beach or swimming. However, it is not a deal-breaker for me.
- Most importantly, does what it claims to do. (You don’t want to end up burning yet you’re wearing a sunscreen that claims to be able to protect you. Transparency and honesty in the ingredients used and manufacturing claims plays a critical role here.)
- Whether a sunscreen is physical or chemical, ultimately depends on the wearer and is something to consider. I prefer chemical sunscreens but I’m always willing to try a physical one if the formula appeals to me.
It looks like a long list but these are the 10 things I consider when buying sunscreen, specifically, facial sunscreens. Personal preference is a huge factor here and what you feel comfortable wearing.
A bonus is the inclusion of antioxidants that can help tackle free radical damage caused by the sun but I believe using an antioxidant-rich anti-aging serum beforehand is more beneficial.
As you’ve noticed, I haven’t mentioned the inclusion of alcohol because it’s a huge topic and one that is controversial. I’m not opposed to including the tiniest amount for cosmetic elegance because almost all my other skincare is alcohol-free. However, there are so many options that are alcohol-free if your skin is sensitive to alcohols of any kind.
A few years ago, I was thrilled to discover sunscreens that I can comfortably wear and I’ve never looked back. Two words for you: Asian sunscreens. Specifically, Korean and Japanese ones. I thought it was a miracle when I first tried them. The lightweight, almost gel like consistency that disappeared completely into my skin upon application was something new to me. Suffice to say, my mind was blown. I have tried several over the years, some not so amazing, but there are a few that I find myself reaching for again and again.
So, what do you consider when looking for a sunscreen? Is there anything I should add to my list? Let me know in the comments.
Also, don’t forget to look out for my next post where I talk about my favorite facial sunscreen and why I love it.