How To Choose The Right Sunscreen For You

by beauty expert, Katey Kristabelle

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We're so excited summer weather has finally arrived! But with sunnier days come harsher UV rays and the importance of daily SPF application increases. If you're looking for a new sunscreen this summer, read on to learn what to look for and why below:

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What is the difference between chemical and mineral sunscreen?

The most common question people ask is what's the difference between chemical and mineral sunscreen. Chemical sunscreen active ingredients are designed to absorb the sun’s UV rays. Active chemical spf ingredients are:

Oxybenzone

Octinoxate (Octyl methoxycinnamate)

Avobenzone

Homosalate

Octisalate

Octocrylene

Mineral sunscreen is often called physical sunscreen because it works by sitting on top of the skin to physically shield and reflect the sun’s UV rays. The active ingredient to look for in mineral sunscreen products is Zinc Oxide.

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What are UV Rays?

If you're asking for a bit of more general information, it's good to start with the fact that there's two different types of UV rays: UVB & UVA.

UVB rays are the ultraviolet rays from the sun that cause the immediate reaction of burning. The strength of UVB rays varies, depending on climate or season. The SPF number on your sun care products measures the level of strength against this type of light.

UVA rays radiate deep within your skin layers, and can even penetrate through windows/glass. These types of rays are said to contribute to signs of aging by destroying your collagen and elastin fibres. Unlike UVB, UVA rays are present all year round, even on cloudy days. You cannot feel or see signs of them right away.

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What is SPF?

SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor and measures a sunscreen’s UVB coverage. Most sunscreen available today offers broad spectrum protection and will also block the sun’s UVA rays. Sunscreens with high SPF do not offer significantly more sun protection as you might think. The difference between SPF 30 vs. SPF 50 is about 1%. You always need to reapply your sun protection, no matter the strength.

Does sunscreen expire? What if I don’t open it?

The product expiration date applies whether it is opened or unopened. 

Sunscreens have expiration dates because the active ingredients (either the mineral or chemical) have an expiration date where the efficacy of UV blocking cannot be guaranteed.If you cannot find an expiration date on your bottle it is usually safe to assume it will be good for 3 years (according to FDA regulations).

How to store your SPF:

Generally speaking, storing skincare in a cool, dry, dark place will help them last longer. High temperatures (like being stored in the bathroom near steamy showers/hot baths) can affect the integrity of your sunscreen’s active ingredients. If your sunscreen has been “sitting” without use for long the ingredients in some formulas may separate so make sure you shake well before use.