I can’t emphasise enough how important SPF and sun protection is. Research has made it clear that repeated, unprotected sun exposure not only puts our skin on the fast track to ageing but it also triggers skin cells to mutate and this in turn can lead to skin cancers. One of the most effective ways to prevent this is using a daily SPF.
Before we look into the different types of SPF, we need to understand the types of UV rays that cause the damage. There are two, UVA and UVB. UVA rays penetrate deeper into the layers of the skin and are far more damaging because they’re present all day long, year-round, they even come through windows. While you won’t feel the damage, it’s happening nonetheless. UVB rays are present with visible sunlight and are responsible for causing sunburn on the upper layers of the skin. Adding a broad-spectrum facial sunscreen to your daily skincare routine, as well as being mindful of sun exposure, will help defend the skin against both types of UV rays.
As to which type of SPF you choose? Physical Sunscreens contain active mineral ingredients such as zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide and work by sitting on top of the skin to deflect and scatter damaging UV rays away from the skin. They protect against both UVA and UVB rays and once applied there is no wait needed. They are less likely to cause irritation on the skin, making it better for sensitive skin and they are also better for those with heat-activated skin (like those with rosacea and redness) since it deflects the heat and energy given off by the sun away from the skin. They are also less likely to be pore-clogging, making them ideal for blemish-prone skin types.
Chemical Sunscreens use a combination of active ingredients such as oxybenzone and octinoxate all of which absorb into the top layers of skin, where they work in two ways: by scattering and deflecting the sun’s harmful rays, and by converting UV rays into heat and then releasing that heat from the skin. These sunscreens usually have to be applied 20 minutes before going out in the sun. With chemical sunscreen, there can sometimes be an increased chance of irritation due to the multiple ingredients combined to achieve broad-spectrum UVA and UVB protection.
Thankfully, the latest formulas are as smart and sophisticated as your favourite face cream and deliver great skin benefits. Whichever type you choose, and it does come down to personal preference, it’s crucial to use it all year round, rain or shine. Also worth noting, SPF15 filters out approximately 93% of all incoming UVB rays, SPF30 keeps out 97% and SPF50 98%. They may seem like negligible differences, but if you are light-sensitive or have a history of skin cancer, those extra percentages will make a difference. And as you can see, no sunscreen can block all UV rays.
Here are some of my favourite SPFs
NeoStrata Sheer Physical Protection SPF 50 – All skin types
This lightweight, translucent fluid offers physical broad-spectrum UVA/UVB sun protection. The ultra-sheer texture effectively protects and also provides a sheer mattifying tint that adapts to suit all skin tones to even out discolouration and redness while providing a smooth base for make-up.
Clarins Sun Wrinkle Control Cream for Face SPF 30 – All skin types
This is a lovely lightweight cream, that doesn’t clog pores and absorbs quickly into the skin. With both UVA/UVB filters, it provides a good level of sun protection too and contains anti-ageing properties to help fight fine lines and wrinkles.
Murad City Skin Broad Spectrum SPF 50 – All skin types
A physical sunscreen which protects skin from UVA/UVB rays, infrared radiation, pollution and blue light from devices. It has a soft peach tint, suitable for all skin tones and the multi-tasking formula offers instant colour correction, whilst a dose of Vitamin C visibly brightens skin.
Green People Facial Sun Cream Scent Free SPF 30 – All skin types
Organic skincare expert Green People have created a scent-free facial sun cream that can be applied on its own or under makeup. It protects against UVA/UVB rays and contains ingredients such as avocado and green tea to help combat anti-ageing and keep your skin looking firm. A great choice for those with sensitive skin.
Olay Total Effects 7-in-1 Moisturiser + Serum Duo SPF 20 – Dry skin
It combines the Total Effects moisturiser plus the intensity of serum to give you 7 skin benefits in 1 for youthful, healthy-looking skin. It’s oil-free so it won’t clog your pores. Fast-absorbing, non-greasy and has broad spectrum UVA/UVB protection SPF 20.
Elemis Pro Collagen Marine Cream SPF 30 – Dry Skin
This is their bestselling anti-wrinkle cream that has been formulated with a revolutionary blend of sunscreen to offer superior broad-spectrum protection.
La Roche Posay Effaclar Duo SPF 30 – Oily Skin
A dual-action daily gel moisturiser that reduces the appearance of spots and blackheads controls shine and helps to reduce inflammation. It also provides immediate protection from UVA/UVB rays