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I've not done a blog post dedicated to sunscreen in a good while and with summer underway (and myself off to Portugal next week!); I thought now was the perfect time to share a little run-down on choosing your perfect sunscreen, bust some of the jargon and introduce you to a few of my absolute favourites...
- HOW SUNSCREEN WORKS -There are two types of sunscreen: chemical and mineral. Chemical sunscreens work by absorbing and dissipating the sun's rays so they're no longer harmful to the skin. A wide range of ingredients can be used in chemical formulas. Mineral sunscreen, on the other hand, creates a physical barrier between your skin and the sun by sitting on its surface and reflecting harmful rays. Mineral sunscreens are formed with one of or both of two ingredients: zinc oxide or titanium oxide. The major pro is that this means you can go straight out into the sun fully protected after application, whereas you need to wait a good 15-20 minutes for a chemical formula to do it's thing. Some people also find mineral formulas less irritating for sensitive skin. On the other hand - although the formulas have come a long way and they no longer feel like a thick, messy layer; they're still sitting on top of your skin and if you have a dark to deep skin tone, this can result in the dreaded blue-tinted white cast. This means you might be tempted to under-apply, which stops you from getting the advertised protection (you need to use a good teaspoon of product when it comes to sunscreen).
- TYPES OF SUNSCREEN ON THE MARKET -As well as mineral vs. chemical - which we just broke down - you may have seen or heard the terms SPF, broad spectrum and PA+ and wondered what they mean. There are two types of rays that can damage the skin; UVA and UVB. If you're using an SPF-only product then be aware it may not be blocking UVA rays in all their forms. SPF ratings are done by number. Broad spectrum sunscreens protect from both UVA and UVB rays (so I'd strongly recommend going for these products). PA+ is a way of measuring UVA protection and goes through to PA++++, however note that not all brands use this rating. If you're using a broad spectrum SPF50 product, the UVA protection should be to an equivalent level as the UVB by law.
- FIVE OF THE BEST -Coola Classic Sport Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF50 with White Tea* | £30 | This is a lovely moisturising sunscreen packed with antioxidants, with an organic formulation. It's designed to be sweat and water resistant and it's a chemical formula. I love the texture and how easily it melts into the skin. It has a sort of gel-cream consistency, so it's fresh, hydrating and absorbs easily. It doesn't pill up when I apply my primer over the top - which is essential for me - and doesn't take ages to rub in. Although the cream itself is white in colour, it feels very water-based so that melts away quite quickly with no excess or stickiness.
REN Clean Screen Mineral SPF30 Sunscreen* | £30 | This is one of two mineral formulas in this post but it is broad-spectrum too. This one is great for oilier skin as it definitely mattes things down. Again, it doesn't move or pill up when I put on my makeup but it's worth noting that this does feel like more of a layer on the skin and probably isn't going to suit deeper skin tones. It contains naturally-derived zinc oxide, so is good if you suffer from skin irritation. It isn't messy and is free of silicones, which is probably why it doesn't pill up and doesn't clog my pores. For me; SPF30 is fine for most days - it offers a good level of protection.
Ultrasun Sports Gel SPF20 | £16 | This is my go-to product on a day-to-day basis, when it isn't particularly sunny or I'm not going to be spending much time outdoors. I just find the lightweight clear gel formula so innovative - it honestly takes seconds to apply, there's no whiteness to it and it doesn't sit on the skin. It doesn't interfere with my makeup application and I honestly just forget I'm even wearing sunscreen with this one! Again it's broad spectrum and you can get this in SPF30 and SPF50 now, if you think you need a bit more protection.
La Roche-Posay Anthelios Ultra Light Fluid SPF 50 | £16.49 | This is a tinted formula - so perfect for deeper skin tones - with a light, watery fluid. It isn't sticky, it doesn't leave a white cast and it's very lightweight on the skin. It's water-resistant and broad-spectrum, as well as being designed to be suitable for sensitive skin. This is a really great option for good coverage that's easy to apply and reapply throughout the day. It isn't oily or greasy and one of the best options on the market that's well-priced and high-protection. It can pill up a little bit but as long as I give it some time to absorb before putting on my primer; this doesn't cause me too many issues.
Neostrata Sheer Physical Protection SPF50* | £34 | This is my favourite for on holiday because of the formulation and the high level of protection it offers. It's a mineral formula but it's tinted so you don't get that blueish-white tinge. It's broad spectrum, it's hydrating on the skin and amazingly - for SPF50 - it doesn't pill up when I put on my primer. I wouldn't say it gives an overly matte finish but it isn't at all greasy on the skin either.
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