The Complete Guide to Sunscreens and SPF Protection

Sun screen with sun block spf
Sun screen

The sun is a powerful force of nature, providing warmth, light, and life to our planet. However, along with its benefits, it also emits harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation that can wreak havoc on our skin. This is where sunscreen becomes our ally, acting as a protective barrier against the sun's damaging rays.

In this complete guide, we will delve into the world of sunscreens and SPF protection, exploring everything from their definitions and types to how to choose the right one for your skin type and the proper application techniques.

Understanding Sunscreens and SPF

What is Sunscreen?

Definition and Purpose

Sunscreen is a skincare product designed to protect skin from harmful UV rays, primarily UVA and UVB radiation, emitted by the sun.

Importance of Sun Protection

The significance of sunscreen cannot be overstated. It serves as a crucial shield against UVB radiation, preventing sunburns, UVB protection, premature ageing, and even skin cancer.

What is SPF?

SPF Definition and Meaning

SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor. It measures a sunscreen's ability to protect skin from UVB rays, the type of radiation that causes sunburn, skin damage, and contributes to skin cancer.

Understanding SPF Ratings

SPF ratings indicate the level of UVB protection offered by a sunscreen. The higher the SPF number, the greater the level of protection against UVB rays.

Different Types of Sunscreens

Chemical Sunscreens

How Chemical Sunscreens Work

Chemical sunscreens absorb UV radiation and convert it into heat, thereby protecting skin from damage.

Pros and Cons

Chemical sunscreens offer broad-spectrum protection and are often more lightweight and easier to apply, but they may cause irritation in sensitive individuals.

Physical Sunscreens

How Physical Sunscreens Work

Physical sunscreens create a barrier on the skin's surface, reflecting and scattering UV radiation away from the skin.

Advantages and Limitations

Physical sunscreens are less likely to cause irritation and are suitable for sensitive skin, but they can leave a white cast and may feel heavier on the skin.

Choosing the Right Sunscreen for Your Skin Type

Sunscreen for Dry Skin

Ingredients to Look For

When selecting a sunscreen for dry skin, opt for products containing moisturiser ingredients such as hyaluronic acid or glycerin to hydrate the skin.

Recommended SPF Levels

Individuals with dry skin should choose a sunscreen with a higher SPF to ensure adequate UVB protection and prevent further moisture loss.

Sunscreen for Oily or Acne-Prone Skin

Non-Comedogenic Formulas

Those with oily or acne-prone skin should opt for non-comedogenic sunscreens to avoid clogging pores and exacerbating breakouts.

Lightweight Options

Look for lightweight, oil-free formulas that provide uvb protection without feeling greasy or exacerbating oiliness.

How to Properly Apply Sunscreen for Maximum Protection

Pre-Application Tips

Cleanse Your Skin

Before applying sunscreen, cleanse your skin to remove any dirt, oil, or pollution particles that may interfere with its effectiveness.

Allow Moisturiser to Absorb

After cleansing, allow your moisturiser to fully absorb into the skin before applying sunscreen to ensure maximum effectiveness.

Application Techniques

Amount of Sunscreen to Use

Apply a generous amount of sunscreen to cover all exposed areas of the body, using at least a teaspoon for the face and a shot glass for the body.

Reapplication Guidelines

Reapply sunscreen every two hours, or more frequently if makeup has been applied or after swimming or sweating, to maintain continuous UVB protection.

Sunscreen Myths Debunked

Myth: Darker Skin Doesn't Need Sunscreen

Explanation and Reality

Contrary to popular belief, individuals with darker skin tones are still susceptible to sun damage and should use sunscreen to protect skin from harmful UV rays.

Importance of Sun Protection for All Skin Tones

Regardless of skin tone, everyone benefits from using sunscreen to prevent discolouration, premature ageing, and skin cancer.

Myth: Sunscreen Is Only Necessary on Sunny Days

Explanation and Reality

UV rays can penetrate clouds and cause skin damage even on cloudy or overcast days. Therefore, sunscreen should be worn daily to ensure continuous UVB protection.


Ensuring proper skin protection is paramount during and after laser hair removal treatments to minimise the risk of sun damage and maintain the health of the skin. Sunscreens play a vital role in providing broad-spectrum protection against harmful UVB and UVA rays, which can cause wrinkles, premature ageing, and skin cancer.

By applying sunscreen with adequate UVB and UVA protection, individuals can shield their skin from the damaging effects of UV radiation, even if they are not directly exposed to sunlight. This protection is particularly crucial for areas recently treated with laser hair removal, as the skin may be more sensitive and prone to damage.

Additionally, incorporating sunscreen into one's skincare routine helps protect the complexion and prevent the formation of wrinkles and other signs of sun damage. Therefore, it is essential to make sunscreen application a regular habit to protect the skin and maintain its health, especially when undergoing laser hair removal treatments.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which is better, SPF 30 or SPF 50?

Both SPF 30 and SPF 50 offer effective protection against UVB radiation, with SPF 30 blocking approximately 97% of UVB rays and SPF 50 blocking about 98%. The choice between the two largely depends on individual preferences and needs. SPF 30 is suitable for everyday use and provides adequate protection for most people, while SPF 50 may be preferred for prolonged outdoor activities or for those with fair or sensitive skin.

What is the best SPF for sunblock?

The best SPF for sunblock depends on various factors, including skin type, sun exposure duration, and outdoor activities. Generally, SPF 30 or higher is recommended for daily use to protect against UVB rays effectively. However, individuals with fair or sensitive skin or those spending extended periods in the sun may opt for SPF 50 or higher for added protection.

What is sunblock SPF rating?

The SPF rating of sunblock indicates its ability to protect the skin from UVB radiation, which causes sunburn. SPF, or Sun Protection Factor, measures how long it would take for UVB rays to redden the skin when using the sunblock compared to not using any sun protection at all. For example, SPF 30 blocks approximately 97% of UVB rays, while SPF 50 blocks about 98%.

Does SPF block the sun?

While SPF provides protection against UVB rays, it does not block the sun entirely. Sun Protection Factor (SPF) indicates how long it would take for UVB radiation to cause sunburn on protected skin compared to unprotected skin. It's essential to reapply sunscreen regularly, seek shade, wear protective clothing, and avoid prolonged sun exposure, especially during peak hours, for comprehensive sun protection.