Choosing which sunscreen to buy can be a difficult decision when every product available promotes itself as the right one for you! When deciding which sunscreen to buy, there are a few considerations… occasion, activity, weather and skin type. If you are sitting in an outdoor cafe in the middle of autumn you may only require a moisturiser with a 30-50 SPF, however, if you are going swimming at the beach during summer, then a broad spectrum water resistant sunscreen would be best.
Many broad spectrum water resistant sunscreens contain a combination of chemical and physical sun blockers which give it the high 50+SPF rating for 2 – 4 hours. Chemical sun blockers penetrate into the skin and absorb the harmful UV rays whereas physical sun blockers sit on top of the skin and reflect the UV rays. Chemical sun blockers are usually promoted as non-greasy, light, invisible lotions that are quickly absorbed into the skin. Physical sunblockers (like zinc and titanium oxides) often feel heavier, leave a protective coating on the skin and can appear whitish. If you have skin that is sensitive to some of the chemicals in chemical sun blockers you would require a sunscreen that is designed for hypersensitive skin that contains mostly mineral physical sunblockers.
If you have an aversion to the greasy feel of sunscreen on your skin or you’re applying sunscreen to a hairy area, you may like to use a mist spray on or gel type. This is a popular choice for men to use on arms & chest or on the scalp if the hair is thinning! These sunscreens leave your skin feeling dry to touch which is perfect if your’re participating in an activity with high dust levels or bugs like dirt bike riding..
No matter the makeup of the sunscreen: chemical/physical or combination, the best sunscreen is the one that you regularly use. There’s no point buying the most expensive brand available with all the bells and whistles if it doesn’t feel good on your skin and it never leaves the shelf of your bathroom cabinet. So, try out a few samples in the chemist, work out which one feels & looks good to you and then use it regularly! Your skin will thank you for it.
** Personal note: my family’s favourite sunscreen last summer was an unknown brand, bulk 1 litre, bottle from a supermarket. It was a broad spectrum, invisible, water resistant, 50+ SPF rated, that the kids didn’t complain about putting on. Winner!