How we pick our products
We all know that summer is the perfect combination of hot days, the beach, sun and holidays. During this season everyone likes to have tanned or brown skin. However, solar radiation not only tans your skin and makes you look bronze, but it also damages your skin. That is why it’s very important to always protect yourself from the sun.
Luckily, there is an easy, affordable and effective tool to protect yourself from the sun: sunscreen. Applying sunscreen on the skin helps to form a protective barrier that covers your skin. Using sunscreen defends the skin from harmful radiation, enabling a healthy tan. To discover the full potential of sunscreen and the best products on the market, we have written the following guide just for you.
- 1 Summary
- 2 The Best Sunscreen: Our Picks
- 3 Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about sunscreen
- 3.1 What is sunscreen exactly?
- 3.2 What is solar radiation and why is it harmful?
- 3.3 Why should I use sunscreen?
- 3.4 How does sunscreen work?
- 3.5 How long does sunscreen last?
- 3.6 What types of sunscreens are there?
- 3.7 When should I use sunscreen?
- 3.8 How is sunscreen applied?
- 3.9 What are the drawbacks of sunscreen?
- 3.10 What are the advantages and disadvantages of sunscreen?
- 3.11 What are the myths about sunscreens?
- 4 Shopping Criteria
- 5 Summary
- The level of protection of sunscreen is indicated by the Solar Protection Factor (SPF) of the product. Using sunscreen contributes to the prevention of skin cancer and photoaging.
- There are different types of sunscreens available, depending on how they work, the format and the product composition.
- Sunscreen should be used daily. It is recommended to apply sunscreen 30 minutes before sun exposure and repeat the application every 2 hours.
The Best Sunscreen: Our Picks
In this section, you will find a list of the best sunscreens available on the market. In addition, we have included a description of each of them so that you can compare and analyze each product. This list will help you decide which sunscreen is right for you.
Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about sunscreen
It is important that, before buying sunscreen, you know the main aspects of this product. In the following section, we have included the most relevant aspects of sunscreens so that you can become well-informed about this product. We will also answer the most frequently asked questions among consumers.
What is sunscreen exactly?
The level of protection is measured through the Sun Protection Factor or SPF. The SPF estimates the ability of the sunscreen to prevent damage caused by UVB radiation, which is responsible for sunburn. The higher the SPF, the better the protection.
What is solar radiation and why is it harmful?
UVB rays, on the other hand, cause issues at a superficial skin level. UVB rays are responsible for sunburn and increase the risk of skin cancer. These issues are also intensified by frequent UVA radiation. Therefore, we can summarize by saying that sun exposure promotes the aging of the skin as well as the chance of developing cancer.
Why should I use sunscreen?
Sunscreen can also help you to minimize the effects of photoaging. This prevents the appearance of wrinkles, leathery skin and other signs of aging. Sunscreen also helps to reduce existing sunspots and the appearance of new ones. Basically, a good quality sunscreen promotes full skincare and prevents the development of potentially life-threatening illnesses.
How does sunscreen work?
The following table summarizes the characteristics of both types of sunscreens.
|Composition||PABA, salicylates, cinnamic acid, camphor, benzimidazoles, benzophenones, anthranilates, and dibenzoyl methane.||Titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, calcium carbonate, magnesium carbonate, magnesium oxide, and iron chloride.|
|Mechanism of action||Absorbs solar radiation and modifies its molecular structure.||Reflects and diverts solar radiation.|
|Protection||UVA and UVB||UVA, UVB, infrared and visible light|
|Cosmetic characteristics||Easy to apply, transparent and does not stain. Higher risk of allergic reactions.||Requires a thick layer of product. May leave stains. Lower risk of allergic reactions.|
How long does sunscreen last?
The effects of sunscreen will also depend on your skin type. Some skin types are more susceptible than others to solar radiation, often based on genetic factors. The time of day is also a major influence that impacts the effectiveness of sunscreen. The maximum radiation from the sun is usually at noon when the sun is at its strongest. Finally, the altitude you are at, the season of the year and the activities that you do will influence how well a sunscreen works. Activities that involve water, such as swimming or surfing, have a big influence on how long sunscreen is effective on your skin.
Other factors that play important roles are the correct application of sunscreen and the amount absorbed by the skin. As you can see that the duration of the sunscreen is dependent on various factors. It is important that you know in which situations you need more protection. Below we have summarized the moments when you should increase the level of sun protection.
Increase sun protection (frequency of application or SPF):
- You have light skin (skin that is more sensitive to the sun)
- Toddlers and babies (above the age of 6 months)
- Strongest time of the day (midday)
- Summer season
- Sunny day, no clouds
- Performing aquatic activities such as swimming or surfing
- You are taking medication that increases sun susceptibility
- Higher altitudes or lower latitude (farther from sea level or closer to the equator)
What types of sunscreens are there?
Thanks to the biological filters of some sunscreens, certain harmful elements of solar radiation are prevented. Keep in mind that no matter what type of sunscreen you use or how much you apply, the protection is never 100%. It is also very common to find water-resistant sunscreens. These can be waterproof or water-resistant, depending on their properties. The differences between waterproof and water-resistant are explained below:
• Waterproof sunscreen: Maintains protection against solar radiation for 80 minutes in the water.
• Water-resistant sunscreen: Maintains protection against solar radiation for 40 minutes in the water.
Finally, there is a special type of sunscreen that is called biodegradable. This is a type of sunscreen that does not contain elements or chemicals that are harmful to the environment. This type of sunscreen has been designed to protect marine ecosystems when using sunscreen in the ocean or in rivers. This type of sunscreen is perfect for activities such as swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, surfing or rafting.
In terms of format, there are sunscreens in spray, lotion, and cream. The spray format is easy to apply and very practical as you can easily apply the sunscreen to difficult areas, such as the back. Sunscreen lotion is light, non-greasy and suitable for all skin types. The cream format moisturizes the skin and is often greasier than the other formats.
The following table summarizes the different types of sunscreens available.
|Classification criteria||Product type||Characteristics|
|Mechanism of action||Physical sunscreen||Reflects solar radiation, less chemicals and lower risk of allergic reactions.|
|Mechanism of action||Chemical sunscreen||Absorbs solar radiation, higher risk of allergic reactions.|
|Mechanism of action||Organic products||Antioxidant effects and highly recommended by doctors.|
|Specific properties||Waterproof and water-resistant||Protection against the sun when in water.|
|Specific properties||Biodegradable||Does not contain substances that are harmful to the environment.|
|Format||Spray||Light, easy and quick to apply.|
|Format||Lotion||Smooth and non-greasy texture.|
|Format||Cream||Increased hydration and an oily texture.|
When should I use sunscreen?
It is recommended to apply sunscreen 30 minutes prior to sun exposure. By doing this, all the components of the sunscreen will be completely absorbed. It is also advised to repeat the application of sunscreen to the exposed parts of your body every 2 hours. This period should be reduced if you have sensitive skin or whenever it is considered necessary.
How is sunscreen applied?
Sunscreen should be spread evenly throughout the body, taking extreme caution in the most sensitive areas of the body. These areas include the face, neck, ears, shoulders, hands and the tops of the feet.
What are the drawbacks of sunscreen?
The impact of sunscreen on the environment must also be taken into account. Some ingredients of sunscreen are extremely harmful to natural ecosystems. It is highly recommended to buy environmentally friendly sunscreen if you spend a lot of time in the ocean or natural bodies of water.
The other downside to sunscreen is that the protection can be variable and never reaches 100%. Therefore, it is possible to still receive sunburn or be impacted by the harmful effects of the sun, even when using sunscreen.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of sunscreen?
What are the myths about sunscreens?
Myth #1: “If we use sunscreen, we don’t get brown.”
This is false, as explained by chemistry and scientific researcher Deborah García Bello. Deborah explains that the tanning of the skin is caused by the formation and oxidation of melanin. Melanin is formed thanks to a moderate dose of UVB radiation from the sun. If this is excessive, the cells are destroyed and do not produce melanin.
Sunscreen ensures that the UVB radiation that reaches our skin moderate. By using sunscreen, the formation and oxidation of melanin are progressively stimulated without being excessive. In addition, by using sunscreen, cells are not destroyed or damaged. To summarize, by using sunscreen you will slowly get a tan that will also last longer than without using sunscreen.
Myth #2: “If it is cloudy, there’s no need to use sunscreen.”
Also false. The clouds in the sky do not prevent the penetration of solar radiation to the Earth’s surface. Although it seems that the sun is far weaker when there are clouds, this is not true. It is estimated that 40% of the ultraviolet radiation reaches the earth during days of maximum cloud cover. It is therefore critical that you use sun protection on both sunny and cloudy days.
Myth #3: “If we only sunbake for a little while, there’s no need for sunscreen.”
Completely false. From the moment the sun hits your skin, it can cause harmful effects. Even if you don’t get burned by short exposure to the sun, your skin still receives the radiation. Small amounts of radiation can be dangerous in the long run and may eventually develop into skin cancer. In fact, it is advisable to use sunscreen on a daily basis, not only when sunbaking.
When buying a sunscreen, it is important that you evaluate a number of aspects prior to making a decision. Below we break down the most important factors you should consider when comparing the options on the market. By following our shopping criteria, you will be able to make the right decision and be happy with your purchase. These aspects to look at are:
- Skin type
- Sunscreen type
- Degree of sun protection
Your specific skin characteristics are an essential factor when choosing a sunscreen. To begin with, you must review your phototype, which means your susceptibility to solar radiation. It depends on your skin tone, eyes, hair and tanning ability. For example, pale-skinned, redheads are low phototypes.
If you have a low phototype, you will need more sun protection. Essentially, if you are a low phototype, you should choose a sunscreen with a high SPF. It is also important to assess whether your skin is naturally dry, oily or mixed. If you have naturally oily skin, it is recommended to use sunscreen in a lotion or spray format. If you have dry skin, the cream format will be better for you.
The market offers so many varieties of sunscreen that differ depending on their mechanism of action, format, and properties. Therefore, evaluating the different types of sunscreen is important when choosing your product. In terms of the process of protecting your skin from the sun, chemical sunscreens are very practical and offer great protection.
If you travel to regions with protected ecosystems, choose a biodegradable sunscreen.
If your skin is highly sensitive to the sun, it is recommended to use a physical sunscreen, as this type reflects the sun from your body. Both types can be purchased with biodegradable ingredients, making them harmless to the natural environment. Finally, if you spend a significant amount of time in the water, it is recommended to choose a waterproof sunscreen.
Degree of sun protection
The degree of protection of sunscreen is determined by the SPF, as mentioned earlier. You should choose a higher or lower level of protection depending on various factors. To start with, if you have a pale skin that is susceptible to sunburn, you will need high protection. It is also recommended to increase the SPF level if you are participating in water activities on hot days.
During summer, especially during the central hours of the day, it is also recommended to use high protection. Also keep in mind the location you are in, as this will also determine the protection level required.
At higher altitudes, solar radiation is more intense and it is more likely for you to get sunburned. The closer you are to the equator, the same occurs. Therefore, more protection needed in these instances.
Age is another important factor to consider when selecting a sunscreen. To begin with, sunscreen is not recommended for children that are under 6 months of age. If you have a child of this age, it is advisable that they avoid sun exposure completely. From 6 months onwards, children will need a higher level of protection than adults. The higher level of protection is required for children as their skin is immature and more sensitive than adult skin.
It is also recommended to use water-resistant sunscreen on children to keep them protected when they go in the water. When it comes to adults, the skin tends to be more resistant and the body has more natural defense mechanisms.
Last but not least, the composition of sunscreen is critical when choosing a product. As you have read, certain sunscreens contain ingredients that may irritate your skin. This is especially relevant when it comes to chemical sunscreen. Also, many sunscreens contain ingredients that can be harmful to the environment.
For this reason, it is essential that you review the composition of the product prior to purchasing it. It is important to make sure that it does not contain ingredients that can harm you or the natural environment. When it comes to a product that will not damage the environment, it is best to choose a product that is made entirely from organic ingredients.
Sunscreen is an accessible, affordable and effective product that protects your skin against solar radiation. The sun’s rays are the principal cause of skin cancer and aging skin. Fortunately, sunscreen dramatically reduces the harmful effects of the sun. This allows you to spent time outside or at the beach without getting sunburned or increasing the risk of skin cancer.
If you don’t want to get sunburned during summer or if you want to tan safely, then sunscreen is the answer for you. Sunscreen is a product that is essential for everyone, given the potential danger posed by solar radiation. By following our guide and advice, we a confident that you will find the ideal sunscreen for your skin type, your age, and your needs.
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(Source of featured image: Guillem: 28252438/ 123rf.com)