Often when people see SPF 50 or higher on a bottle of sunscreen, they think one coat and they’re protected from the sun. The truth is that most of us don’t know much about sunscreen, and just like any other beauty product, we should really be doing more research before slathering it onto our bodies.
Before we get into the list, let’s differentiate between UVA and UVB rays:
- UVA rays deeply penetrate your skin and cause skin aging and wrinkling.
- UVB rays tan and burn the outer layers of skin, also causing hyperpigmentation and skin cancer
Now that we’re cleared up the difference between the two, here are all the things you have to keep in mind about sunscreens:
1. You should reapply at least every 2 hours
If you look at some labels, they say that you should reapply sunscreen every 2 to 3 hours, or more often if you are going swimming or part of some kind of water activity. No matter how potent a formula claims to be, sunscreens actually become inactive 2 hours after application, if not sooner. And if you’re spending time in the water or sweating it out in the sun, the sunscreen could only last for a mere 30 minutes.
The safe thing to do is to reapply every 90 minutes or 2 hours if you’re not swimming, and every 30 to 60 minutes if you’re at the pool or the beach.
2. Only certain ingredients protect against both UVA and UVB rays
There are a few common sunscreen ingredients that offer broad spectrum coverage. For example, naturally occurring minerals such as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are safe sunscreen ingredients great for blocking UVA and UVB rays. However, there are others like octyl methoxycinnamate (also known as ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate) that are limited to only protecting against UVB rays. Then there are others like avobenzone that can protect you from all harmful rays, yet only last for 30 minutes of sun exposure. It helps to check the label to understand what kind of protection your sunscreen is providing for you.
With that said, the SPF in your makeup or moisturizer may not offer broad spectrum coverage. Always include sunscreen in your morning beauty routine, and make sure the ingredients in that sunscreen protect against all UV rays.
3. Go for sunscreens that also have aloe vera
The best kind of sunscreen is the one that also nourishes your skin. Although aloe vera is mostly in after sun care products to treat sunburns, redness and rashes, it also has the ability to block off up to 20% of the sun’s harmful rays. So not only does aloe vera have the cooling, moisturizing effect, but they also have the protective element that should be included in all sunscreens, or at least applied along with sunscreen.
4. A lot of sunscreens are damaging coral reefs
Coral bleaching has been a major issue in the last few years, and the amount of sunscreen sliding off of people’s skin plays a huge role.
This goes back to checking the ingredients of your sunscreen. These are the known environmental pollutants in sunscreens and beauty products, as listed on Haereticus Environmental Library
- Any form of microplastic sphere or beads.
- Any nanoparticles like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.
- 4-methylbenzylidene camphor
- Para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA)
It’s a hefty list to memorize, but the main culprits of coral reef damage are oxybenzone and octinoxate, so if you can avoid those as much as possible, you’ll be doing the oceans a big favor.
There are also a lot of sunscreens nowadays that are marked “reef safe” or have the “Protect Land + Sea Certification” seal to make it easier on consumers.
5. Sun damage is still possible on a cloudy day
Just because you don’t get burned on a cloudy day (although still possible for people with extremely photosensitive skin), it doesn’t mean you’re fully protected from every kind of sun damage. Never hesitate to put on sunscreen even when the sun is in hiding.
6. You can get sun damage on the plane
Glass effectively blocks out UVB or sunburning rays. You can even get window tinting that blocks off UVA rays as well, but unfortunately, airplane windows don’t have that treatment. Because you’re that much closer to the sun, damaging effects like premature aging and wrinkling are that much more likely. Thus, bring some sunscreen with you on the plane, or at least rethink the window seat and leaving the window shade up when the sun’s at its brightest.
Taking the red eye doesn’t seem so bad now, does it?
So ladies, be wise when it comes to using sunscreen!
Sheena is the lead fashion writer here at Pretty Me Philippines and has contributed articles for numerous lifestyle blogs and online publications. Other than keeping up with the latest trends, she loves baking and home DIY projects.