Ultimate Guide to Sunscreen

Sunscreen Is Your Most Important Skincare Product, So You Should Know Everything About It.

We all know the importance of a cleanse, tone, moisturise skincare routine.

But for your overall health, the most important step in your beauty routine is applying sunscreen.

Sunscreen keeps your skin free from skin cancer, painful sunburn, and premature ageing, so it’s vital you keep your skin protected.

Keep reading to find out all about sunscreen, how it works, and the best way to apply it to ensure healthy skin and a healthy body.

Ultimate Guide to Sunscreen - Woman with red hair and freckles. Sun is shining on her face, her eyes are closed and she is swiping sunscreen onto her cheek.Ultimate Guide to Sunscreen - Woman with red hair and freckles. Sun is shining on her face, her eyes are closed and she is swiping sunscreen onto her cheek.

Why Is Sunscreen Important?

Sunscreen is important for shielding your skin against harmful UVA and UVB rays, whether the product physically blocks the sun’s rays or absorbs the damage before it affects the skin. Exposure to UV rays is the leading cause of skin cancer, according to the Australian Cancer Council, and sunscreen is the best way to protect skin when out in the sun.

You can read more about the myths of skin cancer and sun exposure on the Call Time On Melanoma Instagram, an amazing not-for-profit initiative to raise awareness of the dangers of sun exposure.

However, the Cancer Council doesn’t recommend sunscreen for babies under six months, as infant skin is highly absorptive. Instead, the council recommends creating physical barriers of clothing, wraps, and hats to protect your baby’s skin.

It’s also important to avoid direct sunlight exposure. After six months, babies, toddlers, and children can wear sunscreen. However, we recommend mild formulas that won’t cause irritation or discomfort.

Find out more about sun protection for your little ones on the Cancer Council website.

Side note: Check out the video below as SPF advocate and scientist Hannah English takes us through why you need sunscreen which products will suit each skin type the best.

What Are UVA and UVB Rays?

UV rays are present in sunlight in two forms: longwave ultraviolet A (UVA) and shortwave ultraviolet B (UVB).

UVA rays penetrate deep within the skin and can lead to premature skin ageing (think ‘A’ for ‘ageing’).

UVB rays burn the outer layer of your skin (think ‘B’ for ‘burning’) and can lead to skin cancer.

UV rays are most prominent between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., and both types can cause long-lasting damage to your skin and body.

Dermal Therapist, James Vivian explains how sun damage occurs and how to prevent and treat it in the video below...

Is Sunscreen Bad for You?

There are rumours that sunscreen can actually do more damage than good. But we’re proud to debunk those rumours! The main controversial sunscreen ingredient is Oxybenzone, which has been reported to be a hormone disruptor that can harm humans.

However, researchers at Harvard Medical School concluded, ‘There has been no conclusive evidence that oxybenzone is harmful to humans. Organizations that have raised concerns about oxybenzone typically cite studies done in rats, where the rats were actually fed oxybenzone.’

Harvard Medical School then goes on to debunk the myths that sunscreen can cause skin cancer and contains toxic nanoparticles.

Find out more in ‘The Science of Sunscreen’. Rest assured that for optimal health and beauty, sunscreen is a must-have addition to your everyday skincare routine.

Ultimate Guide to Sunscreen - Woman with red hair and freckles smiling as she applies sunscreen to her faceUltimate Guide to Sunscreen - Woman with red hair and freckles smiling as she applies sunscreen to her face

Can You Tan with Sunscreen?

First, against popular belief, there’s no such thing as a ‘healthy tan’. That bronze glow is simply a sign of too much UV radiation and skin damage. A healthy tan won’t be too healthy when it leads to wrinkles, discolouration, pigmentation, and the worst-case scenario: skin cancer.

When you apply your daily sunscreen, you’re protecting your skin from harmful UV damage. You won’t get a skin-damaging tan, which is a good thing! If you want a gorgeous golden glow, then explore our extensive fake tan range, which has something for everyone without the nasty adverse effects of the sun’s rays.

Side note: You can watch Michelle from Lab Muffin Beauty Science joined us to answer all our questions on SPF in the video below.

How Does Sunscreen Work?

There are two main types of sunscreen: chemical sunscreens and physical sunscreens.

  • Physical sunscreens were the first type of sunscreen. These products sit on the surface of your skin, actively blocking UV rays. They can feel a little heavy on the skin but are perfect for all skin types, including sensitive skin.

  • Chemical sunscreens penetrate the skin and absorb harmful rays before they can damage the epidermis. These products are typically fast-absorbing, sheer, and lightweight. Unfortunately, chemical sunscreens may cause sensitivity and irritation. Discover more about the pros and cons of chemical and physical sunscreens in our handy guide, Chemical vs Physical Sunscreen: What's the Difference?.

Although your everyday makeup may contain SPF, it isn’t enough to offer full protection throughout the day. Find out more about wearing a separate sunscreen in No, Your Foundation Doesn't Have Enough Sun Protection.

What Is the UV Index?

The BOM UV Index is a measure of how high the ultraviolet radiation is on a specific day and is included in your local weather forecast.

Remember, it’s not the heat that damages your skin but the UV rays. Sun protection measures are recommended when the UV Index is 3 and above, a common occurrence in the Australian climate.

You can find out more about the UV Index on the Bureau of Meteorology’s website.

The UV Index and Sunscreen

Every sunscreen has an SPF, or sun protection factor. This is determined by how much time it takes for UVB rays to burn the skin, compared to skin that has no sunscreen.

An SPF tells you how much time the product can be expected to work for. During periods when the UV Index is higher than 3, you should be wearing at least SPF 30 and re-applying it every 2 hours.

However, we still recommend wearing sunscreen every day for maximum protection.

You can explore our favourite sunscreens to keep your skin protected in our guides The Top 6 Sunscreens for Oily Skin, Here's How to Pick the Best La Roche Posay Anthelios Sunscreen For Your Skin Type and The 7 Best Physical Sunscreen Brands For Sensitive and Acne-Prone Skin in 2019.

Ultimate Guide to Sunscreen - Woman with red hair and freckles smiles as she applies sunscreen to faceUltimate Guide to Sunscreen - Woman with red hair and freckles smiles as she applies sunscreen to face

Sunscreen Application

Once you’re armed with a new sunscreen, it’s important that you know how and when to apply it. Otherwise, you might not be providing as much skincare protection as you think. Follow our extensive sunscreen application guidelines to make sure you’re getting the most out of your sunscreen and keeping your skin fully shielded from harmful UV rays.

How Much Sunscreen Should I Use?

Not using enough sunscreen is a common mistake, especially when using physical sunscreens that can feel heavy on the skin. It’s recommended that you apply 2 milligrams of sunscreen per square centimetre of your skin. This works out at around 1/2 teaspoon for your face, 1 teaspoon per arm, 2 teaspoons for your torso, and 2 teaspoons for each leg.

Does Sunscreen Expire?

If you’ve raided your bathroom cabinets and found an old sunscreen, we seriously recommend you chuck it straight in the bin. You’re better off using nothing rather than an expired sunscreen! Expired sunscreen not only loses its effectiveness but also may introduce nasty bacteria and fungi to your skin.

Sunscreen can last for up to three years, but always check the bottle for an expiry date. Be sure to store your sunscreen in a cool cupboard, as storing it in a warm environment can cause it to expire more quickly.

How Often Should I Reapply Sunscreen?

How often you reapply your sunscreen depends on the formula itself and what you’re up to that day. Anything that comes into contact with your skin, such as sweat and water, will affect how often you have to apply sunscreen.

How often to reapply sunscreen indoors:

Ideally, sunscreen should be reapplied every 2 hours to keep your skin protected, even if you’re indoors. UV rays can travel through glass so can cause damage if you’re sitting by a window. At the minimum, reapply your sunscreen before leaving your home or office for the day!

How often to reapply sunscreen when swimming:

If you want to have a swim or exercise, always use a waterproof and sweatproof sunscreen. Then reapply your sunscreen as soon as you’ve finished your swim or workout to ensure you’re always fully protected from the sun.

Sunscreen can be a little stubborn to remove, but it’s important you take it off thoroughly to avoid skin congestion. Read our top tips on removing sunscreen in What's the Best Way to Remove Sunscreen at Night?

Check out the video below for tips on how to reapply makeup throughout the day or over the top of makeup...

Reapply Your Sunscreen Easily

Reapplying sunscreen on your face can be tricky if you’re a makeup wearer, as you don’t want a sunscreen to disrupt your perfected complexion. Colorescience has made it incredibly easy to ensure your sunscreen is topped up, whether you’re in the office or at home, with its Colorescience Sunforgettable Total Protection Brush SPF30.

This mineral makeup with SPF contains a pre-loaded, self-dispensing powder, which can be worn alone or over makeup to protect skin with broad-spectrum SPF 30. In travel-friendly packaging with a convenient and portable brush, this nourishing sunscreen is perfect for reapplying your sun protection throughout the day against harmful UVA and UVB rays. It’s also formulated with antioxidants and Hyaluronic Acid to hydrate, nourish, and repair the skin.

How Often to Reapply Mineral Sunscreen

To use Colorescience Sunforgettable Total Protection Brush SPF30, sweep the brush over your face and body to release the powder and build coverage. We recommend reapplying the powder every 2 hours throughout the day for complete protection.

Brand and product inclusions are at the sole discretion of Adore Beauty’s highly trained Customer Service team. We do not seek or accept payment from brands or individuals listed in our guides.

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