Choosing a Sunscreen

February 2 2017

Choosing a sunscreen can be tricky, especially when the market is flooded with products to compare. Here is some information to consider and get you started on finding the right product for you!

We often hear people say ‘The sunscreen in my moisturiser or makeup lasts all day’. What you may not know is, this myth results in people getting sun exposure when they believe they are protected! Sunscreen will generally last 3-4 hours before needing to be reapplied. No product will protect you to the best of its capability all day without being reapplied. Ensuring you do so every 4 hours when outdoors will give you the best UV protection.

There are two basic types of Sunscreen:

Mineral Sunscreen This physically blocks the ultraviolet radiation. It can be used over or under makeup. Mineral sunscreen contains active (mineral) ingredients, such as titanium dioxide or zinc oxide These ingredients work by sitting on top of the skin to deflect UV rays away from the skin. Mineral sunscreens are often referred to as physical blockers. One of the pros to using a mineral sunscreen is that it is less likely to cause irritation to the skin, which means it is often better for sensitive skin. It is also less likely to block pores, therefore making it a great option for acne or blemish prone skin. Mineral sunscreen offers you protection as soon as you put it on, and is naturally broad spectrum, meaning it will protect you against both UVB and UVA rays, although it’s UVA protection is better than its UVB protection . Zinc oxide is ok to use by itself but titanium dioxide is generally is added to other agents.

Chemical Sunscreen This contains chemicals that absorb ultraviolet radiation. They may not work over makeup. Chemical sunscreens contain carbon-based compounds, like oxybenzone, PABA, and avobenzone. These chemicals work by changing UV rays into heat. They are often referred to as chemical or organic absorbers. Chemical sunscreens tend spread on the skin more easily as they are usually ‘thinner or lighter’ than a mineral sunscreen. Another benefit of a chemical sunscreen is that generally you don’t need to use as much to get the same amount of protection however it does take approximately 20 minutes to begin to work after application. They work better to protect from UVB than UVA.

What’s the difference is between UBA and UVB?  Well, UVA rays penetrate deep into the skin’s thickest layer. Exposure without protection can lead to premature skin aging, wrinkling and suppression of the immune system. UVB rays burn the superficial layers of your skin, which plays a key role in the development of skin cancer. A sunscreen (whether it be Chemical or Mineral) marked “Broad Spectrum” will offer the best protection against both UVA and UVB. In Australia, only sunscreens that pass the FDA’s Broad Spectrum Test (meaning they provide proportional protection against UVA and UVB rays) may be labelled as “Broad Spectrum”.

If applied in the correct manner:

SPF 30+ will block approximately 96.7% of UVB radiation.

SPF 50+ will block approximately 98% of UVB radiation.

Sunscreen should be worn every day if you are outside and the UV levels are greater than 2, regardless of the weather or season. For Geelong, that means 3/4 of the year, with UV levels falling to peaks of 2 or less in the middle of May until mid-August.  Protection may still be needed in highly reflective areas even in winter. For precise UV Levels and to find out when protection is needed most please visit, or download the ‘Sunsmart’ App on your smart phone.