How to pick the right sunscreen

With lotions, creams, oils, sprays, mists and sticks, there are loads of options to choose from.

If there is one beauty essential that shouldn’t be overlooked on vacation, it’s sun protection.

Choosing the right sunscreen can sometimes feel like a headache, with so many different options available.

Rather than overloading your case with loads of products, here are a few pointers to help you find the right product for your needs, your preferences, your skin and your destination.

Pick the right SPF

Before even thinking about choosing formats and textures, like creams or sticks, the most important thing is pick the right sun protection factor, or SPF. This is expressed as a number: eg SPF 30, SPF 50, etc. The higher the number, the higher the protection.

Sunscreen with different SPF numbers. Picture: iStock

To make the right choice, consider the conditions of exposure (time, altitude, latitude, season) as well as your skin type. Generally, the fairer your skin and hair, the higher the SPF needs to be (up to 50+).

The sun protection factor should never be overlooked, as it’s important to make sure skin has the right level of protection from the harmful effects of the sun’s UV rays, which are notably responsible for premature skin ageing.

Choose your texture

Texture and application method are more subjective but still important for vacation peace of mind. With lotions, creams, oils, sprays, mists and sticks, there are loads of options to choose from.

Pick a texture that you find pleasant and which suits your needs, as a mismatched formulation can affect the frequency of application. For example, people who don’t like sticky textures will tend to avoid reapplying sunscreens with stickier textures, putting themselves at greater risk of the harmful effects of UVA and UVB rays. That said, make sure you pick a format with an SPF that suits your coloring and protection needs, as some types only go up to SPF 30.

Different types of sunscreen. Picture: iStock

Oils and lotions are good options for anyone looking for a slightly satiny effect on their skin, whereas thicker creams are more suited to drier skin types or those needing higher protection. Mists, sprays and waters, the market’s latest additions, are ideal for a quick application with minimal stickiness.

Makeup and sunscreen

While some foundations, powders and bronzers may have a built-in SPF that’s fine for everyday wear, they’re not suitable for vacation-style exposure by the sea or at altitude.

Therefore, it’s important not to rely on beauty products alone for sun protection, especially since the skin on the face, in particular, can often be exposed to UV rays all day long. Vacation makeup should be worn over a specific sunscreen.

Brands today offer combination products for body and face, but specific facial sunscreens also exist, with special formulations for greater comfort. Gels and sticks are often the most suitable textures for this part of the body, although certain creams have additional properties (hydrating, anti-aging, ant-dark-spots, anti-pollution, detox) and can easily be worn under the day’s makeup.

For more news your way, follow The Citizen on Facebook and Twitter.

Read more on these topics