By now we all know that protecting our skin against harsh UV rays is vital for both its health and appearance. But with a bewildering range of sunscreens out there, which one should you choose?
- Which SPF?
The SPF system is confusing. For a start, it only relates to the burning UVB rays – not the skin-damaging UVA rays. How well it protects you depends on how well it’s applied, the frequency of application and the intensity of the sun. Also, an SPF30 won’t protect you for twice as long as an SPF15 – it only gives four percent more protection. Use plenty (a golf ball amount for the body and two pea-sized blobs for the face) and reapply every two hours if you’re out in the sun – more if you are sweaty or swimming. Don’t forget the most missed areas – the backs of the hands and the neck.
- Synthetic or natural?
Synthetic sunscreens are designed to penetrate the skin and absorb or scatter the sun’s rays. They need to be applied 20 minutes before sun exposure. Natural sunscreens form a barrier with the help of the mineral filters zinc oxide or titanium oxide. Titanium can irritate sensitive skins so zinc is the gentlest choice. These days you don’t get the whitening effect of old-fashioned zincs as the particles are micronised. They do tend to rub off more quickly than the synthetic versions though.
- Lotion or spray?
Sprays are great for kids, those with oily skin or for men with loads of body hair. Another benefit is that sand won’t stick to you. But unless you’re careful you can easily miss bits. Lotions can provide extra skin-conditioning benefits so are ideal to counteract the drying effects of seawater.
- Cheap or pricey?
If you spend a bit more on sunscreens, you can expect added benefits. Some are designed for specific skin types and others are formulated with vitamins and antioxidants.
FIVE TO TRY
- Surf Life Saving New Zealand has launched a new SPF50 sunscreen in a 100ml tube for $12.99. It’s lightly moisturising, water-resistant up to four hours and fragrance-free so you won’t end up smelling like a coconut. Best of all, $1 from every tube sold goes to help keeping our beaches safe.
- Oily-skinned people can use Yon-Ka’s Ultra Protection Age Free Solar Block SPF25 $84.50 on the face as a protective moisturiser. If you have drier skin, layer it on top of your usual moisturiser. It’s a blend of titanium dioxide, vitamins and the French skincare brand’s signature blend of essential oils. Smells heavenly!
- Ideal for sensitive skins, Invisible Zinc Face & Body Sunscreen SPF30 $29.99 is a natural, wearable, non-greasy cream based entirely on zinc. Designed for everyday wear.
- If you struggle to get decent coverage on the kids with a spray then try Nivea Sun Kids Caring Sun Spray SPF30 $22.59. It goes on a light pastel green, so you can see where you’ve put it, then disappears as you rub it in. The moisturising formula is also water-resistant for up to two hours.
- For those plagued with adult acne, Dermalogica has a suncare solution. Oil-Free Matte SPF50 Sunscreen, $109 is part of their excellent MediBac Clearing System and has recently been reformulated to provide more protection while fighting the main causes of pimples.