When Winter is here, it always seems like the longest season of the year. There’s no surprise that when the temperature rises and summer is in full swing, we are guilty of being suckers for the sun. With millions of us travelling abroad to make the most of the warmth and all-round good vibes, sun cream is one of the most frequently bought items between June and August. Regardless of where you spend the summer months, sun cream is a crucial product that should be in your summer skincare routine. But, with so many different options on the market, finding one to suit your skin type can seem a little confusing. So, keep reading to find out how to choose the most suitable sun cream for you.

Physical Vs Chemical

Sun creams are packed full of protective ingredients that are separated by two categories. They are physical and chemical. The Physical sun creams work by creating a layer on the skin which will block UV rays from penetrating the skin. This type of sun cream usually contains Zinc oxide and Titanium dioxide. On the other hand, the chemical sun creams work by absorbing the sun’s UV rays and converting it into heat which is then released from the skin. The chemicals in this type include Oxybenzone, Avobenzone and Octinoxate.

Advantages of Physical Sun Cream – 

  • It has broad spectrum protection and therefore can protect the skin against the different types of UV rays.
  • It is less likely to cause irritation on your skin.

Advantages of Chemical Sun Cream –

  • These types of sun creams are often thinner in consistency and therefore, they are much easier to evenly distribute all over the skin.
  • The consistency also makes it absorb much better into the skin, leaving less product behind afterwards.

Disadvantages of Physical Sun Cream – 

  • As they absorb less into the skin, any contact with water such as through sweating or swimming can rub it off. This will mean that you will have to re-apply the sunscreen more often.
  • The consistency of physical sun cream tends to be thick and can be harder to rub in.

Disadvantages of Chemical Sun Cream – 

  • The ingredients can often irritate skin, especially if you already have problematic skin conditions.
  • Oily skin may break out in spots as this type of sun cream is more likely to clog up your pores.
  • You need to apply this type of sun cream more often as it is quickly soaked up by the UV rays which are converted into heat.

Both types of sun cream offer protection against the sun. However, whilst Chemical sun cream has its benefits, its ingredients are more likely to cause irritation to the skin. For people who already have sensitive and problematic skin, using the chemical sunscreen may make it worse.

Recommended Factors

beach with sun cream on it and spf written in the sand

Each sun cream comes with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF for short). This indicates how long and how well the sun cream will be able to protect your skin from the sun’s UV rays.

It is recommended that people who have fair to light skin should always use between factor 30 – 50 to ensure you have the maximum protection against the sun.

For people with darker skin tones who find they rarely burn, starting off the day with a lower SPF is ok. However, as the day progresses and more time is spent exposed to the sun, the SPF should increase to around 30 – 50. For younger children, factor 50 is should always be used.

The higher the SPF, the more protection against the sun. When sun cream is not worn, all the sun’s photons are able to easily penetrate the skin. Whereas, if you use SPF 30 which provides around 97% protection, only 3% of the sun’s rays may cause an effect on the skin.

How Often to Apply

If you know that you are going to be exposed to the sun, you should apply a generous amount all over your body 20 minutes you go out in it. Of course, you don’t need to smother your whole body in it if you’re covered head to toe in clothes. But, if you do have any skin that is going to be exposed, pop some sun cream on it.

Once you’ve applied your first layer, reapplication should happen every 2 hours after. An exception to this is if you are in and out a swimming pool or the sea and if you are sweating. If that’s the case, you should apply more once you have dried off. Make sure that you keep an eye on the areas of the skin most likely to burn such as your: face, chest, shoulders, stomach, and legs.

Deciding Your Sun Cream

different types of sun cream on a blue background

When choosing which cream works best for you, there are a bunch of factors which should be taken into consideration. This should include: your skin type, if you will be applying makeup, does it need to be waterproof and what form is most suitable for you (Gel, Spray, Lotion).

Different types of skin –

Having a basic understanding of what type of skin you have is important to help you to find an appropriate sun cream. If you’re someone with oily skin and you use a cream that is thick and makes your skin greasy, its more than likely going to result in breakouts. Whereas people with dry skin may be more suitable to one with moisturising properties.

As physical sun creams tend to be thicker and less likely to cause irritation to your skin, it is suitable for sensitive, dry, and normal skin types.

The chemical sun creams are more suitable to oily and acne prone skin. The thin consistency is less likely to clog up pores and cause further breakouts.

Applying makeup –

Many brands who sell sun cream now have ones specifically for your face and they are fine to use before applying makeup. Usually wearing makeup doesn’t include protection from the sun however, it should. Even the layers of primer, foundation, concealer and setting powder can’t stop the sun from damaging the skin on your face.

Waterproof –

If you will be spending time in a pool or the sea water, or find yourself sweating lots, opt for a waterproof sun cream. Although no sun cream is totally waterproof, it will mean that less will rub off when compared to a normal one.

Form of Sun Cream –

Whilst all forms of sun cream offer you protection, one form of it may be more suitable than the other. For instance, if you spend your day sunbathing, cream can offer you more solid protection and is safer to put on your face. Spray might work out better if you’re struggling to reach all areas of your body. However, it’s not advised to use spray on your face as it may get in your eyes.

You should always be applying sun cream regardless of the weather outside as the suns UV rays can still cause issues for your skin even on a cloudy day.

Applying cream with SPF is so important for protecting our skin from being damaged by the sun. Without it, our skin will age at a much faster rate and will be susceptible to discolouration. Constant sun exposure without appropriate protection can also increase the chance of developing skin cancer. Daily use of sun cream from a young age will reduce those risks. This includes when it appears to be cloudy or raining outside as the suns UV rays can still pierce through.