Sunscreen 101: Everything You Need To Know About SPF

Routine 101

Sunscreen 101: Everything You Need To Know About SPF

By Hanna Yowell

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Ah, sunscreen, the tell-tale sign summer was finally here as a kid. Now, it’s the most important step in our skincare routines — truly! If you’re not already wearing sunscreen each and every day — this is your sign, so keep reading to learn how to get started. And if you are, kudos! Let’s make sure all your bases are covered.

SPF Explained

SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor, and is how we measure the protection from the sun’s UVB rays. SPF 15 blocks 93% of UVB rays, SPF 30 blocks 97%, and SPF 50 blocks 98%. Experts recommend staying between 30 and 50 SPF — sufficient protection without feeling a false sense of complete sun protection that you might feel going above 50+. 

You’ll also want to make sure your sunscreen is “broad spectrum” — meaning it protects from both UVA and UVB rays. An easy way to distinguish the two is UVA(ging) and UVB(urning). Both rays have overlapping effects (i.e. both can cause burns and premature aging), but UVA rays are mostly responsible for fine lines and dark spots, while UVB rays play the most significant role producing skin cancers and sunburns. 

Everyone under the sun should wear sunscreen — no matter your skin tone. Generally speaking, you’ll need one-half a teaspoon of sunscreen, or two finger lengths long, for your face and neck, and one ounce (a shot-glass-full) for your entire body. Because sunscreens naturally break down over time, we recommend reapplying every two hours, and even more frequently if you’re doing something that will make sunscreen break down even faster like swimming or sweating. Plus, best practice is to apply SPF 30 minutes prior to sun exposure.

The Different Types of Sunscreen

There are two main types of sunscreen: physical (aka mineral) and chemical. Both absorb the sun’s UV rays to help prevent skin damage, but physical also reflects some UV rays. Neither is “better” than the other, they simply use different active ingredients. Chemical SPF typically uses actives like avobenzone and homosalate, whereas physical SPF will contain zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide. 

Plus, in addition to sunscreen, the American Cancer Society also recommends a holistic approach to staying sun-safe including, wearing protective clothing (such as a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses), seeking shade (especially between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.), and avoiding tanning beds which can cause long-term skin damage and contribute to skin cancer.

The best sunscreen for you is the one you’ll want to wear each and every day. Some sunscreens may blend into your skin tone better, you may like the scent of some more than others, and so on. But rest assured, there is a perfect pick for you. 

The best sunscreen for you is the one you'll want to wear each and every day.

Choosing the Right Sunscreen
For Makeup Wearers

This unique formula glides onto skin quickly and undetected, so we love it as a primer before makeup or simply as a beautiful glow on a clean face.

For Techies

Especially for those who spend more time in front of a screen than in the sun, this hydrating formula makes adding SPF to your routine seamless — offering multifaceted protection from UVA/UVB plus blue light (HEV) that comes from the sun and our screens.

For Multitasking Efficiency

Adding a daily sun protection into your routine is a no-brainer with this 2-in-1 moisturizer & SPF hybrid. Whether you’re new to a daily SPF or simply trying to streamline your routine, this is a great pick.

For Acne-Prone Skin

This oil-free option not only protects against the sun, but actually treats acne and soothes inflammation, while absorbing excess oil to prevent future breakouts.

For Easily Irritated, Sensitive Skin

Create a matte, protective finish with this ultra-lightweight, soothing physical sunscreen formulated with titanium dioxide and zinc oxide.

Daily SPF Is Essential

Sunscreen isn’t just for days outside. UVA rays can penetrate your windows, plus blue light from your screens may cause skin damage—so make sure to wear SPF indoors as well.

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