Written by Annemarie Hartung

skincare | fashion

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15 Apr, 2021

Sunscreen – How Do I Choose?

As we are all getting ready to head off to our (much needed!) holiday destinations, as we try to forget about deadlines, routine and 2020, we need to make sure that we still protect our skins and that brings about the oh-so-daunting standing in an aisle full of different sunscreens!

They all look equally good…right?

The first mistake we make is to reach for the highest SPF (Sun Protection Factor). I call it the “I-Need-MORE-Protection” Syndrome, while in fact a higher SPF does not give you more protection from the sun but longer protection and, interestingly enough, the higher the SPF, the more the chemicals it contains.

How do I know how long before I need to re-apply my SPF? Well, if your skin without any SPF takes 5 minutes to turn red when you’re in the sun and you use an SPF 15 you will need to re-apply every 75 minutes (5 minutes to turn red x SPF 15). Re-applying sunscreen every 2 hours between 11am and 3pm when you’re outside (even in the shade) should become an everyday habit…your skin will thank you! Tanning or burning is actually your skin’s natural defense against the harmful rays of the sun, so a tan is a burn and a burn is a scar!

So what should you be looking for in a sunscreen? Find one with a medium SPF – between 15 to 30. UVB protection between 15 and 30 is minimal, however, one of a higher SPF might expose your skin to chemicals and free radicals. Also look for a sunscreen labelled “broad spectrum protection” AS WELL as UVA + UVB protection. If it just says UVA and/or UVB protection, it is not necessarily a broad spectrum protection sunscreen. This is just a smart marketing strategy on their part.

Also look for sunscreens containing protectants like zinc and titanium, since they actually reflect the rays from your skin while safe chemicals neutralize the absorbed rays in the skin. During this neutralization process free radicals are produced, so if your sunscreen contains anti-oxidants, that’s an added bonus. If not, make sure you apply an anti-oxidant cream or gel first, and then layer on some sunscreen on that before your day out.

If none of the store-bought sunscreen lotions make the cut, speak to your beauty therapist, dermatologist or a somatologist who could recommend a good quality sunscreen the entire family can use, and remember: when it comes to sunscreen, less is more – a lower SPF applied more often is your best bet.

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