By Stephanie Swensrude
Did you know the sun’s rays are responsible for 90 per cent of visible signs of ageing?
It’s important to wear sunscreen every day of the year, not just when you’re at the beach. Up to 20 per cent of the sun’s rays can get to your skin through clouds, even on a rainy day.
The sunlight that reaches our face is made up of UVA and UVB rays. UVB rays are responsible for sunburns. They burn the superficial layers of your skin. This is one of the ways skin cancer develops. UVA rays penetrate deeper into your skin. These rays are considered “silent killers” because, unlike UVB’s painful sunburns, you can’t feel the harmful effects of UVA. UVA rays cause ageing and wrinkles by getting deep in the skin and destroying the substances that keep skin looking youthful.
To protect your skin from the sun, you need a broadspectrum sunscreen. “Broadspectrum” just means that the sunscreen has been formulated to protect against both UVA and UVB rays. When it comes to SPF, doctors recommend at least SPF 30. That will block approximately 97 per cent of UVA and UVB rays, and the amount of protection gets higher when you increase SPF.
Mineral vs. Chemical
There are two main types of sunscreen available: chemical and mineral. Chemical sunscreens contain at least one of the following ingredients: oxybenzone, avobenzone, octinoxate, homosalate, octisalate or octocrylene. On the other hand, mineral sunscreens contain either titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. There are benefits to each.
In chemical sunscreens, the active ingredients absorb the sun’s rays and dissipate them through a chemical reaction. This way, the rays never actually get to your skin. However, this means that the sunscreen must be absorbed into your skin. Research is inconclusive on whether this is harmful or not.
Mineral sunscreens work differently. The minerals sit on top of your skin and reflect the sun’s rays away. They are sometimes called physical sunscreens because the sunscreen creates an actual barrier between your skin and the sun. However, mineral sunscreens can create a white cast on top of the skin, and they are usually more likely to look greasy.
There is not one type of sunscreen that is inherently better for your skin. What matters is that your skin is protected. However, you may find that certain ingredients, brands or formulations have negative or positive effects on your skin.
What types of products CAN I buy?
There are thousands of sunscreen products on the market. You should have a chapstick with SPF in it, to avoid thinning and wrinkling of the lips as you age. Many makeup products have SPF in them, but it never hurts to double up on protection by applying sunscreen before your makeup or setting your makeup with a spray that contains SPF. There are lotions, primers and even eyeshadow with SPF.
You should also invest in a pair of sunglasses that block the sun’s rays. Not only will it protect the delicate skin around your eyes from damage, but it will minimize squinting, which causes wrinkles.
You may be tempted to just buy the cheapest sunscreen at the drugstore without reading any reviews or checking the ingredients. If you want to, all the power to you! However, your skin will thank you if you do your research and invest in a powerful sunscreen that will help you stay protected.
What products SHOULD I buy?
As mentioned in the previous section, there are a ton of sunscreen options available on the market. We’ve compiled a variety of products that can get you started on your sunscreen journey.
Supergoop is an American brand that offers a range of products, all formulated with sun protection in mind. They have a mineral setting powder with SPF in it, so you can reapply all day long without looking greasy and shiny. Unfortunately, this company is not yet available in Canada, so try to get your hands on some next time you’re on vacation in the US. They don’t ship here either, so you could try to get a relative or friend in the States to ship it to you. These products are so highly reviewed that the hassle might just be worth it.Kate Somerville UncompliKated SPF 50 Setting Spray: $50 CAD
This spray is meant to be applied after makeup to add a layer of protection. It is a chemical sunscreen. It is conveniently sized, so you can carry it in your backpack and re-apply through the day. However, it is quite pricey for the amount of product you get. However, the convenience is worth it.
Purito Centella Green Level Unscented Sunscreen SPF 50+ – $15 CAD to $40 CAD
Purito is a Korean brand, available through Amazon and YesStyle. This chemical sunscreen is completely unscented and doesn’t contain essential oils, which can cause irritation. Due to different retailers and shipping prices, you’ll need to shop around for the best price for this product.
CeraVe 100% Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30 – $15 CAD
This mineral sunscreen is available at drugstores. Though some reviews mention the dreaded “white cast”, CeraVe says that with thorough rubbing, the sunscreen should be invisible.
Your health and beauty is worth protecting. It’s never too early to start protecting your skin from the sun. When you are 80 years old and wrinkle-free, you will be so happy you started now!