If I were sent to a deserted island and forced to pick just one beauty product to bring along, you can bet your bottom dollar I’d be bringing sunscreen.
Whatever the hypothetical circumstances—be it stranded in the arctic or banished to a remote commune—the answer will always be sunscreen.
Why? It’s simple really: SPF is unequivocally the most important part of any skincare routine. I’d go so far as to say a skincare routine without SPF is absolutely useless.
I know, harsh words from your resident skincare junkie—harsh, but true. Let me break it down for you.
What is SPF?
SPF stands for sun protection factor, which is the theoretical time one could spend in the sun without getting sunburned while wearing an SPF of that amount.
So, for example, an SPF of 30 means you could stay in the sun roughly 30 times longer than you could without sunscreen. The higher SPF, the longer the protection—not the stronger the protection.
In general, we want a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30.
What exactly does sunscreen protect against?
Short answer: UVA and UVB rays.
UVB rays are your typical day-at-the beach rays—they can cause sunburns, hyperpigmentation, and even skin cancer.
UVA rays are a bit more confusing, because you can’t really escape them. They make up 95% of the UV radiation on the planet and can penetrate through clouds and windows—meaning, yes, they can still get to you indoors (even on a cloudy day).
This means that UVA rays are just as prevalent in the winter as they are during the summer. In some cases, UV rays can be more intense in the winter.
When looking for a sunscreen, make sure it’s labeled “broad spectrum,” which means it protects against both UVA and UVB rays.
So, what are the benefits of wearing sunscreen daily?
Oh my god, there are so many. The sun kind of wreaks havoc on us mere mortals, and sunscreen is our suit of armor. Wearing sunscreen every single day is absolutely key to looking and feeling good.
Let’s go over a few of sunscreen’s benefits:
- It keeps you looking young: A whopping 90% of all signs of aging come from UVA rays. No bueno. Sunscreen protects the skin from that sort of damage.
- It keeps skin tone even: The sun can cause some serious dark spots and bouts of hyperpigmentation.
- It minimizes the effects of global warming on your skin: Yup, global warming is bad for your skin. The ozone layer usually acts as a sun shield for the earth by absorbing harmful UVB rays before they reach the ground. Unfortunately, the ozone layer is depleting, so our bodies need added protection from these rays.
- It decreases your risk of developing cancer: Daily use of sunscreen drastically decreases the risk of developing skin cancer—especially against the deadliest form of skin cancer, melanoma.
- It minimizes skin damage: Whether you burn or not, skin is damaged by sun exposure over your lifetime. Sunscreen helps minimize the damage.
Which sunscreen should I use?
There are a lot of different types of sunscreen. The one you should use is the one you’ll wear daily—as long as it’s broad spectrum and SPF 30+, you’re good to go. Here are some standouts:
With moisturizing properties and lactic acid (which refines the skin to clear pores) this is a good option if you have acne-prone skin.
This applies so smoothly and gives your skin a dewy, glowing finish. I love that feels lightweight too.
It’s hard to find a tinted sunscreen that comes in a large variety of shades, but this one is available in 14 different tones and is safe for sensitive skin.
If you don’t like the scent of traditional sunscreen, this one is for you. It has a light and subtle vanilla scent that doesn’t linger.
I’ll admit that this sunscreen is a bit of a splurge but it’s one of my go-to’s when playing tennis. I don’t care that it leaves my skin white because I know it’s doing it’s job!
Another Supergoop! win—this one is perfect to use as a makeup primer.
This paraben and fragrance-free SPF is specifically made for women of color.
Absorbs fast and doesn’t leave your skin feeling greasy—two major pluses!
This brush-on SPF is ideal for mid-day application when you don’t want to mess up your makeup.
Oil-free, non-comedogenic, and goes on like silk—ideal for sensitive skin.
La Mer is a trusted brand for skincare products and this sunscreen is no exception. It’s great for combo, normal, or dry skin.
A fantastic face sunscreen for any skin type that’s highly recommended by dermatologists.
This water-resistant option is ideal for swimming and/or beach days.
This SPF is truly invisible (as its name implies) and works well with all skin tones.
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