Sunscreen – The Basics
How much to use, when you should re-apply, and what you should use.
When it comes to using sunscreen, there is so much information out there on how much you need to use, when you should re-apply your sunscreen, and what you should look for in a sunscreen, it can be a little confusing. It’s such an important topic, as if you get it wrong – you don’t apply enough sunscreen, you don’t re-apply often enough, or you don’t use a sunscreen to suit your needs, the consequences can be dire. Sunburn, leading to premature ageing, and potentially melanomas can happen, so it pays to be in the know when using sunscreen.
We spoke to Nivea expert Robyn Hutch, to find out what we should be doing when it comes to sunscreen. Here is what she had to say.
Why is sunscreen so important? How does it work?
Sunscreen is important to include in any daily beauty routine as it helps protect skin from sun damage such as premature ageing and, the risk of sun burning. Sunscreens use a combination of several ingredients such as zinc, avobenzone or oxybenzone that help prevent the suns ultraviolet radiation, UVA and UVB from reaching the skin. Sunscreen typically reflects or scatters the light away from the skin, physically blocking UV rays from soaking into the skin.
How much sunscreen should you use?
Most of the time most people do not apply a sufficient amount of sunscreen when exposing their skin to the sun. An average-sized adult should apply about a teaspoon of sunscreen (which is about 5ml) to each body part (arms, legs, torso front and back) or six teaspoons per application, plus a seventh for your face!
What level SPF should you wear on a daily basis? What about if you are outdoors, playing sport etc, does the recommended SPF level change?
SPF 50 is always the best option! At most an SPF 30 would be sufficient for everyday. If you are heading outdoors, playing sport or heading to the beach, then definitely go with an SPF 50 + product. Sunscreen should be applied 15-20 minutes before going outdoors and re-applied after two hours, even sooner after swimming, sweating or being in the sun for long periods of time. Don’t forget your hat and sunnies!
Thank you Robyn – we now know how much sunscreen we should use, how often we should re-apply, and the SPF we should be using. Remember to look for a sunscreen that states it’s Broad Spectrum – this means it protects your skin against UVA (that cause ageing), and UVB (they cause burning) rays. Also, look for a sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher. It may surprise you to learn that a sunscreen with SPF 30+ blocks out 96.7% of the UVB rays, while a sunscreen with SPF 50+ blocks out 98% of the UVB radiation – only a relatively small difference, so if you find a sunscreen in SPF 30+ and you like it, use it. Let’s take a look at some of the best sunscreens to protect your skin this Summer.
Sunscreen for Face
We are often asked whether we need to use special sunscreens for our face, and the answer is an unequivocal yes. Our facial skin tends to get the most sun exposure, and (along with our hands), is the first to age. Not to mention the skin on our face is more delicate that the skin on our bodies, so we need a sunscreen with a few extra benefits for our face. Sunscreens for face have been developed with extra moisturisers to care for facial skin, whilst protecting it from the harsh Australian sun. Sunscreen on your face every day is a must! For our face, we love wotnot anti-aging sunscreen for face SPF 30. The certified organic sunscreen provides broad spectrum protection against UVA and UVB rays, and is water resistant for up to 2 hours. The gentle formula contains organic jojoba oil to hydrate your skin, organic aloe vera to nourish, and green tea to help brighten and even out skin tone. It is gentle enough for sensitive skin too. 75g RRP $26.99. For the weekends, or catching up with friends, we also love The Cancer Council Face Day Wear Moisturiser Matte SPF 50+ – Light Tint. The ultra lightweight lotion provides broad spectrum protection against UVA and UVB rays, and up to 4 hours water resistance. The light tint means you can wear it “as is” on weekends, and even to work if you prefer a light colour – you don’t need foundation over the top (it also comes in medium tint). The addition of aloe vera and vitamin E helps to nourish and hydrate your skin, and every purchase of a Cancer Council sunscreen goes towards funding cancer research and services. NB, if you prefer your sunscreen untinted, this also comes in Invisible. 75ml RRP $14.95. We love using Hamilton Everyday Face SPF 50+, providing broad spectrum protection against UVA and UVB rays. The highly moisturising formula can be worn alone or under makeup, with its sheer tint, light matte finish. It’s perfect for the beach, playing sport, out with friends – anywhere really. 75g RRP $12.95.
Sunscreen for Body
When looking for sunscreen for your body, look for one with high protection factor – SPF30 or above, so your body is protected whenever you are outdoors. Additionally, make sure it has Broad Spectrum, to block out both UVA and UVB rays, and look for Water Resistance, to protect you when sweating, playing sport, or swimming. For body protection, we love Nivea Protect & Light Feel SPF 30, a fast absorbing lotion which is formulated to feel like an every day body lotion, whilst providing Broad Spectrum UVA and UVB protection, with 4 hours water resistance. The addition of vitamin E and panthenol helps to hydrate your skin, keeping it silky and supple, without feeling greasy. The handy size means you can pop it into your bag for protection on the go. 100ml RRP $10.99. We also love The Cancer Council Moisturising Sunscreen SPF 50+, a lightweight, nourishing sunscreen, combining Broad Spectrum UVA/UVB very high sun protection with moisturising ingredients, aloe vera and vitamin E, to protect and hydrate your skin. The formula is water resistant for up to 4 hours, and, as with the Face Sunscreen, every purchase goes towards cancer research and services. AVailable in a handy 110ml Tube, RRP $13.95, or 200ml Pump Pack, RRP $19.45. Rounding out our list of favourite body sunscreens is the Ella Bache Active Lotion Great SPF 50+, a lightweight lotion offering Broad Spectrum UVA/UVB protection, with 4 hours water resistance. The formula is perfect for active lifestyles – it is sweat-proof, and gym approved! 130ml RRP $44.00
Sunscreen for Sensitive Skin
Sensitive skin needs sunscreen when you are outdoors. According to La Roche-Posay partner Dermatologist, Dr Cara McDonald (Complete Skin Specialists, VIC), people with sensitive skin need to be extra vigilant about sun protection for many reasons. Firstly, the symptoms experienced by people with sensitive skin, such as burning, stinging, and tightness are often triggered by “normal” physical and environmental stimuli. If these people are exposed to the sun without adequate protection, they are likely to see a significant worsening of these symptoms. We also know that sun exposure is a likely contributing factor to the development is abnormal nerve sensations, which may be responsible for the symptoms associated with sensitive skin, so sun protection is important to limit further damage. Last but not least, your skin’s ability to produce natural moisturising factors and maintain a watertight barrier is impaired by excessive sun exposure. If the barrier is impaired, symptoms of sensitive skin will worsen. So it seems that if your skin is already prone to feeling tight, itchy, and sore, the last thing you want to do to irritate it is to get sunburnt. Luckily there are a numerous sunscreens available for sensitive skin. These sunscreens do not contain common skin irritants, so they will not irritate your skin while they protect it. We love the Anthelios XL SPF50+ sunscreen from the sensitive skin experts La-Roche Posay. Anthelios XL SPF 50+ is an ultra light lotion, offering very high Broad Spectrum UVA/UVB protection. The paraben and fragrance-free lotion contains the beneficial La Roche-Posay Thermal Spring water. The lotion absorbs quickly and dries to an invisible finish. 50ml RRP $29.95. Another great sunscreen for sensitive skin is SunSense Sensitive SPF 50+, providing Broad Spectrum UVA/UVB protection,and up to 4 hours water resistance. The gentle lotion is free from chemical absorbers, lanolin, fragrance and colour to reduce irritation. The addition of Nicotinamide (Vitamin B3) in the formula helps maintain normal skin barrier function, and reduce sensitivity. 75g RRP $10.95 (pictured), 200g RRP $18.95.
Sunscreen for Children
Children’s skin is so delicate, you should use a sunscreen specially formulated for for children’s or toddler’s skin. These sunscreens tend to have common irritants removed, so they do not irritate children’s skin. Look for specific Children’s or Toddler’s sunscreens. Another tip, children love applying sunscreens themselves, and anything you can do to promote this, such as having a sunscreen especially for them, or making it easy to apply via a roll on will help. It should be noted that The Cancer Council does not recommend sun exposure when the sun index is above 3 for babies under 12 months, so a sunscreen for babies should not be necessary. We love the Hamilton Toddler Roll-on Sunscreen SPF 50+, a dry-touch formulation suitable for young delicate skin. The formula provides very high Broad Spectrum UVA/UVB protection, and is 4 hours water resistant. The fast absorbing formula makes it perfect for toddlers and children, for everyday use and all outdoor activities. 50ml RRP $8.95. For slightly older children’s skin, we love the Banana Boat Kids Roll-On SPF 50+, which provides very high Broad Spectrum UVA/UVB protection, and is water resistant for up to four hours. The non-drip formula is easy to apply, and it will not run into their eyes. 75ml RRP $10.49.
Sunscreen for Lips
Did you know, our lips don’t contain melanin, the skin’s natural way of protecting itself against UV rays, nor do they contain sebaceous glands, so they tend to dry out and need to have moisture replenished more regularly than the rest of our skin. For these reasons, a lip balm, and especially a lip balm with an SPF is a must to protect our delicate lips from sun damage year round. For sun protection, and hydration, we love Blistex Ultra SPF 50+ Lip Balm, a creamy smooth lip balm, infused with hydrating conditioners and antioxidants, as well as very high Broad Spectrum UVA/UVB protection. The specially formulated moisturising barrier is designed to prevent dry and damaged lips. No more sunburned lips – yes please. 4.25g RRP $3.95. Keep your lips hydrated and protected all year round, indoors and outdoors, with the new 100% natural Burt’s Bees All Weather SPF 15 Lip Balm. Formulated with nourishing ingredients such as beeswax, cocoa seed butter, jojoba seed oil, and olive fruit oil, your lips are left supremely hydrated and nourished, whilst zinc oxide reflects the suns rays, in a clear finish. Providing Broad Spectrum UVA/UVB protection, the lip balm is water resistant for up to 40 minutes. 4.25g RRP $7.95.
After Sun Products
If after all of this, you still manage to get sunburned this summer (even with the best intentions, sometimes it happens), the best thing you can do for your skin is to treat it with an after sun moisturiser as soon as possible (of course if the sunburn is severe, see your doctor). After sun products are formulated with soothing, cooling ingredients, to quickly start to replenish moisture and calm your damaged skin. After sun products are great to cool down skin on a hot day too! Look for after sun products with healing ingredients such as Nivea Sun After Sun Moisturising Lotion, with aloe vera and avocado oil, which can be used to soothe your skin as well as hydrate it, helping to restore your skin natural elasticity, which can be damaged after getting sunburnt. The formula is non-greasy and also contains Vitamin E to help provide protection against premature aging caused by free radicals. 200ml RRP $16.00. We also love Natio Aloe & Cucumber After Sun Lotion, with Aloe and Cucumber to help cool, calm and moisturise your skin after a day out in the sun. The lotion can be used on your entire body after sun exposure, and your skin is left revitalised, silky smooth, and soft. after sun lotion for the entire body. 150ml RRP $12.95. According to Dr McDonald, if you have sensitive skin and have had too much sun, you should use a hydrating moisturiser to reinforce your skin barrier, which in turn will reduce water loss, and create an optimal environment for repair. We like the specialised sensitive skin moisturiser La Roche-Posay Toleriane Ultra Daily Moisturiser (also available in Ultra Light formula for those with Combination/Oily skins).The range includes glycerine and shea butter, to hydrate and protect your skin, and neurosensine to provide an immediate anti-inflammatory and soothing effect for your skin. The formula is fragrance, paraben, alcohol and colourant free, so as not to cause irritation. 40ml RRP $39.95.
We hope you’ve learned something new from this article, and slip on sunscreen (in the right amount!) before going outdoors. Remember, sunscreen is just one part of the slip, slop, slap message – protect your skin with a hat and clothing, and your eyes with sunglasses as well.
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