What sunscreen should I use
In Australia, generally speaking, the best sunscreen is the one that you’ll use regularly and according to the instructions, but I’ll cover some details to help with understanding sunscreen ingredients and the different types of sunscreen available.
Some important things you need to consider when using a sunscreen are the spectrum covered, the SPF rating and the type of mechanism used by the sunscreen to block harmful UV rays.
UVA vs UBA
There are two types of UV light that can harm your skin, these are UVA and UVB. UVA rays cause premature ageing of the skin (wrinkles, sun spots etc) while UVB causes the burning. Either may contribute to the forming of skin cancer.
A broad-spectrum sunscreen protects you from both UVA and UVB rays and this should be the first thing you look for when purchasing a sunscreen. Tinted sunscreens can also offer protection from VISIBLE light, another spectrum of light that can contribute to the damage caused by UV rays.
Sun Protection Factor (SPF)
SPF or “sun protection factor” is a standard measurement of how well sunscreen protects against UVB rays (UVA protection isn’t rated). You might be surprised to learn that SPF50+ only offers marginally better protection than SPF30. SPF50+ filters out 98% of UVB radiation, while SPF30 blocks out 96.7% of UVB.
Choosing a broadspectrum SPF30 or higher sunscreen is the key.
Physical or chemical filters
Physical sunscreens sit on the surface of the skin and block and scatter UV rays. They’re usually heavier and thicker on the skin and are easier to see when applying.
Chemical sunscreens contain active sun filters that penetrate the skin and absorb UV rays to prevent them from causing damage. They are the most common type of sunscreen found on the shelves – they apply easily, are light-weight and non-greasy.
A lot of the times it will come down to personal preference as to whether a chemical or physical (or combination) sunscreen is best. Some might irritate the skin or just not feel right for you. Again, the most important thing is to consider if it is SPF30 or higher and broad spectrum.
Using sunscreen correctly is the key to it being effective – apply liberally to all exposed areas, re-apply throughout the day and follow any other directions on the label. Don’t forget to cover up and avoid being in direct sun during the hottest parts of the day.
If you’re unsure about what type of sunscreen to use, get in touch with the team and we can help you understand the options available.
Do you have a question for Nurse Kerry?