Yup, we talk about it every year: sunscreen. By now, we know that you know the sun’s UVA rays can cause redness, irritation and cellular damage, while its UVB rays equate in burned skin. We also know you know to choose a sunscreen that describes itself as broad spectrum with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 so that you can determine how long you can go outside before reapplying another layer. (Hint: an SPF 30 lets you do all of your fun-in-the-sun activities 30 times longer than if you weren’t wearing sunscreen.)
So needless to say, we’re fairly confident you’re applying it. A full shot glass worth of sunscreen on your entire face and body before you head outdoors, right? Don’t make liars of us, now. But do you know there are two different types of sunscreen and a variety of options—from sticks and sprays to anti-aging and water resistant—to choose from? Here’s what you need to know:
Physical sun protectors
These types of sunscreen are thicker in their consistency, stick to the surface of your skin and work by reflecting the sun’s UV light—UVA and UVB. They contain minerals, like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide.
Chemical sun protectors
These products are thinner in their formulations and smooth on easily, provide a non-greasy feel, often absorbing and drying quickly and are available in non-comedogenic (anti-acne) options. They operate by turning the UV rays into heat so that they’re easily absorbed into the skin and then, immediately bounced back off of your skin. Typically carbon-based, they tend to contain oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and octinoxate ingredients.
So which one is best for you? Well, it all boils down to personal preference, but to help you, here are a few worth trying:
For sheer protection in an easy-to-use mist spray:
Coppertone Clearly Sheer SPF 30 spray is a chemical protector and is $9.99, available at Shoppers Drug Mart stores across Canada.
For sporty activities that include water:
Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protection Lotion SPF 50+ Wet Force is a physical protector and is $49, available at Hudson’s Bay stores across Canada.
For sensitive skin and anti-aging:
Avene Eau Thermale High Protection Emulsion SPF 50+ is a physical and chemical protector and is $25, available at Shoppers Drug Mart stores across Canada.
For a paraben-free liquid spray:
Bioderma Photoderm Mineral SPF 50+ is a physical protector and is $29, available at Shoppers Drug Mart stores across Canada.
For a non-comedogenic, solid stick applicator:
Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Face & Body Stick Sunscreen SPF 50+ is a chemical protector and is $9, available at Walmart stores across Canada.