You’ve seen it everywhere – SWEAR. BY. SUNSCREEN.
But what makes a good sunscreen, good? How to pick one that’s suitable for your skin? What do Broad Spectrum and the number of ‘+’ on PA+++ means? Read on!
1. UVA vs UVB vs Broad Spectrum
As its name suggests, a UVA sunscreen protects your skin from UVA rays and a UVB sunscreen protects your skin from UVB rays. It is advisable to choose a ‘broad spectrum’ sunscreen which protects your skin from both rays.
2. The PA
PA, Protection Against UVA rays, indicates the level of protection against UVA rays. PA+ means minimal protection, PA++ moderate protection while PA+++ shows strong protective abilities against UVA rays.
UVA rays can penetrate deeply into skin and damage collagen, lose elasticity, cause pigmentation, wrinkling, premature ageing, and even skin cancer.
CHOOSE: PA+++ and above
3. The SPF
The SPF, or the Sun Protection Factor, is the level of protection against UVB rays. The number indicates how long the sunscreen can protect your skin from burning. For example, if your skin normally burns after 10 minutes in the sun, applying an SPF15 sunscreen would allow you to stay in the sun without burning for approximately 150 minutes (a factor of 15 times longer).
However, the SPF scale is not linear. An SPF 15 blocks about 93% of UVB rays, SPF 30 blocks 97% and an SPF 50 blocks about 98% of UVB rays. A lighter skin requires higher SPF while darker skin requires less SPF. In Singapore, since we’re living near the equator, it is recommended for us to wear sunscreen with higher SPF for extra protection.
CHOOSE: SPF30 and above for dark skin & SPF50 and above for light skin
4. Texture & Ingredients
Dry skin can benefit from moisturising cream-based sunscreens. You can look for sunscreens that include lanolin, oils and dimethicone. If you have oily skin or are prone to acne, choose from water-based or gel-based sunscreens.
For people who are allergy-prone or has skin issues i.e. eczema, sensitive skin, skip chemicals like oxybenzone or para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA) and go for titanium dioxide or zinc oxide instead. Also, try to avoid sunscreens with alcohol, fragrances or preservatives.
Other things to note
- Apply sunscreen 20 minutes prior to sun exposure.
- No matter how long-lasting a sunscreen claims to be, reapply every 2 hours if you’re exposed to the sun.
- Pay attention to the expiry date, sunscreens lose its effectiveness over time.
- Wear sunscreen every day, everywhere. Even on a cloudy day, 80% of the sun’s rays still make it through the clouds.