Sunscreen is a skin routine essential; it needs to be worn every day, weather not dependent. You know it, we know it! We love the fact that awareness about sun safety and its effects on your skin is at an all time high. We don’t love how confusing sunscreen products are and how tricky it can be to pick one that is clear skin friendly. We’re here to help!
What should you look for in your sunscreen?
The general rule of thumb is: the less ingredients, the better. Always go for a physical sunscreen rather than a chemical (we’ll get to that in a minute), and a broad spectrum option – meaning it protects against both UVB and UVA rays. Your sunscreen should be non comedogenic (less likely to block pores) and avoid ingredients such as coconut oil (it smells delicious but can cause breakouts when used on the face – no thank you!).
Other things to avoid: estrogenic and antiandrogenic UV filters as these can impact your hormones, and all preservatives/parabens as they can be carcinogenic and are linked to reproductive toxicity.
We think it’s a safe bet that you’re nature and wildlife lovers, like us. Who doesn’t like a puppy TikTok or a David Attenborough special? It’s important to note that just because a product says it’s reef safe, it does not mean that product doesn’t impact sea life. It’s common for sunscreens to contain microplastics and other toxic, non biodegradable ingredients that are highly bioaccumulative (accumulate in organisms like fish). We’ll leave those on the shelf too!
What’s the difference between physical and chemical sunscreens?
Great question, we’re so glad you asked!
Physical sunscreens (also called natural or mineral sunscreens) include zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. They sit on the surface of the skin and create a physical barrier to reflect the UV rays. As soon as you have applied the sunscreen, these goodies are protecting you.
A chemical sunscreen absorbs into the skin and converts the UV rays into heat. Generally, you need to wait 20 minutes before going out into the sun to allow for them to absorb correctly. A very high proportion of chemical UV filters have been linked to skin irritation, can be bioaccumulative (remember the fishies), hormonally active and some of them are not even UV stable (the one thing you want in a sunscreen)! Even a chemical UV filter with no other side effects will unfortunately still produce free radicals as they convert the UV rays into heat.
Quick science lesson: a free radical is a molecule that is missing an electron (typically electrons like to be in pairs). To fix this, it pinches an electron from the closest molecule to it – which is unfortunately a molecule from your skin. This causes a knock-on effect as that molecule pinches another electron from the one beside it, causing even more damage to the skin, and so on. Topically we can go in with some antioxidants (molecules with lots of electrons that are happy to donate) to neutralise the free radicals, but you’ll be fighting a losing battle as there are free radicals everywhere (smoke, UV damage, pollution, stress).
So, can you guess the winner? Physical sunscreen, every time!
What SPF rating is best?
This is a confusing one because we’re often taught that the higher the SPF, the better. Consider that myth officially busted. Anything over SPF 30 is usually a blend of physical and chemical SPF (or purely chemical) and will require a bucket load of (more) chemicals to make it a stable product. We don’t have to spell out our thoughts on that for you…
According to the latest cancer council statistics, an SPF 30 sunscreen filters out 96.7% of UV radiation and an SPF 50 filters out only 1.3% more UV. This is where you need to weigh up the impact of the toxic ingredients in the sunscreen with the 1.3% more of UV protection. We usually recommend anything between an SPF 15 in winter, to an SPF 30 in summer.
SPF 15 = 93.3% protection
SPF 30 = 96.7%
SPF 50 = 98%
To find out how long you are protected for (this applies to chemical SPFs only) multiply your burn time (e.g 10 mins) by the SPF factor. So 15×10 = burn time in mins.
So, what sunscreens do we recommend?
We are constantly analysing SPF options but are yet to find the Duke Of Hastings of sunscreens: 100% perfect (if that Bridgerton reference went over your head do yourself a favour and log into Netflix).
Keeping you guys as informed as possible is really important to us so make a note that these are the best we have been able to find so far:
Dermaviduals SPF 15
Perfect for daily use. It has components of the Dermaviduals famous Dermal Membrane Structure (think second skin in a jar), mixed in with sun protection filters. It has a lightweight formula, does not leave a white cast and is 100% corneotherapy approved.
This sunscreen should be applied every 1-1.5 hours using a full teaspoon worth of product for the face and neck.
Jane Iredale Purepressed Powder SPF 20
This is a medium coverage, non comedogenic, physical SPF powder that cannot breed bacteria. It’s a mineral foundation that’s oil free and weightless. This powder is water resistant for up to 40 minutes and is easily reapplied throughout the day. It can be worn on even the most sensitive skin to cancel out redness and provide protection (how good is a two-in-one product?!). It can also be used in conjunction with the Jane Iredale liquid foundations and comes in a loose powder suitable for more mature skins.
Jane Iredale Dream Tint SPF 15
This is the one that Georgia, our resident skincare expert, wears daily. A soft, glowy, sheer to medium coverage formula. It provides a soft focus blurring effect and is water resistant for up to 40 minutes. Pair with the pressed powder in summer or wear alone in winter. If your Jane makeup is visibly intact, then you are protected.
Who knew choosing a good sunscreen could be such a process!? As with any skincare product, particularly on acne-prone skin, the ideal way to get your perfect match is to see Georgia for a skin consult. You can book in with her here, or slide into our DMs for further questions!