Ask any good dermatologist, skincare professional or beauty therapist and they will likely say that sunscreen is the most important product for your beauty regime. The sun is the biggest cause of premature ageing on the skin, and a simple slathering of sunscreen under your makeup can do what hundreds of skincare products fail to do; make your skin glow and the ageing process slow. Incidental sun damage builds up as you go about daily errands, sit in the car at school pick up or even work in your office next to an open window. Thanks to the UVA rays that we are exposed to daily, physical signs of ageing and the risk of skin cancer is building when we least expect it (yes, even on cloudy days!). Therefore, it’s integral to have SPF readily available and pre-applied so you are a step ahead of the sun.
It is recommended that sunscreen be applied to the face, ears, neck, scalp and all other body parts not covered by clothing. By adding sunscreen to parts of the body prone to premature ageing such as the tops of the hands and the neck, you will see the aesthetic benefit as soon as right after your next day out in the sun. There is a range of sunscreen products on the market that will fit in perfectly with your morning skincare routine, with a small pump and even beautiful bottles to add to your bathroom’s décor. With a pump on your basin and a small bottle in your bag, you can ensure your face is protected from the sun all day long, preventing the signs of ageing such as wrinkles, pimples and dark spots, and more importantly, preventing the development of skin cancer.
How to apply sunscreen to the face
Sunscreen is an essential step for any good skincare routine, especially when using products that contain Vitamin C or Retinol which will make the impact of the sun more intense on the skin. Additionally, if you exfoliate, you will be buffing off layers of dead skin, making room for UV rays to penetrate. Sunscreen should be reapplied on the face every 2 hours to provide consistent protection.
The steps for including sunscreen in your routine include:
- Wash your face using a good cleanser
- Use a light moisturiser
- Shake the sunscreen bottle to blend the ingredients
- Squeeze between 2-5mg of the sunscreen onto your hands
- Dab the sunscreen in dots gently all over the face, including the t zone, ears and neck and let it settle for 20 minutes before going out into the sun
It’s important to use a certified SPF 15, 30 or 50+ sunscreen and to not fall under the assumption that foundation or moisturiser with SPF is enough. Often with products ‘containing SPF’, the amount needed for proper protection is an unlikely amount that you would typically use. For instance, it would never absorb or even have enough room to apply. It is best to use proper sunscreen, and if you’re worried about its effect on your skin, use a gentle or sensitive one such as this one from We Are Feel Good Inc. Alternatively, the Cancer Council recommend at least one teaspoon of their SPF tinted moisturiser to ensure proper protection, which is a good choice for those who like their makeup and protection in one.
Choosing the best sunscreen for your skin
When selecting any kind of topical product, it’s important to consider your allergies, the sensitivity of your skin and the balance of your hormones. Most brands offer a smaller tube, such as the Cancer Councils 110ml tube, that is perfect for patch testing before investing in a larger bottle. Most dermatologists suggest using at least an SPF of 30 to block out 97% of UVB rays and a broad-spectrum sunscreen which will offer the best protection from sunburn.
When it comes to selecting the best sunscreen for your skin type, it is often a case of trial and error as you determine which sunscreen formulation has the best delivery format and feel on your skin. The three main types of sunscreen delivery formats are sunscreen sprays, lotions and sticks, and their benefits are largely based on personal preference. While it’s important for everyone to use sunscreen, if you spend 95% of your time indoors, you may not need as potent protection as someone who spends their entire day under the beating sun. How you spend your day will help to determine which sunscreen is best for you.
Mineral or Chemical – which is best?
Chemical and mineral sunscreens both shield your skin from the harmful effects of the suns UV rays, however they have slightly different compositions. Mineral sunscreen contains zinc oxide and titanium dioxide which physically prevent UV rays from penetrating the skin, and they are often better underneath makeup and other skincare products. Chemical sunscreens allow UV light onto the skin before the chemicals create a reaction to make the UV dissipate from the skin. Mineral sunscreens are the most common type of sunscreen and are fast absorbing, making them the popular choice for makeup wearers and daily users. However, chemical sunscreens won’t leave a white film on the skin and are easy to apply, making them a good choice for those who want intensive protection and don’t use anything else on their face. Either choice is better than nothing, and both have their own set of pros and cons.
Related read: 8 of the Best Powder Sunscreens for Australian Sun
The best protection for your face is sunscreen applied regularly.
It can be overwhelming to browse the aisles at the pharmacy or through ads online to select a sunscreen from the wealth of options. The Cancer Council is one of the most trusted sources when it comes to skin cancer research, and their sunscreen is always a safe bet with affordable, diverse and readily available options. Otherwise, the preference comes down to personal choice. If there is a rating of at least SPF 15 or higher, you will be making a good choice. When it comes to sunscreen, anything is better than nothing at all.