All the answers to your most frequently asked sunscreen questions

All the answers to your most frequently asked sunscreen questions
All the answers to your most frequently asked sunscreen questions

Applying sunscreen has been hot topic for the past few years. Not just on beach days, but all 365 days of the year. But why should we? And what's the difference between all types of filters and how to find the one for you? We answer your most frequently asked sun protection questions so you know what to put on your skin.

What's the difference between UVA and UVB rays?

While both types are bad for your skin, there's still a difference between the two. We use the following rule of thumb for remember what is what. UVA contains the A of Aging. This type of UV-radiation penetrates into a deeper skin layer and can therefore cause skin aging and wrinkles. UVB contains the B of Burn. These type of rays only enters the upper layer of the skin and can cause your skin to tan or burn.

Both types can cause a lot of damage, and ultimately even skin cancer. On short term, you probably only notice UVB, since it has direct visible results on your skin or cause irritation. Let it be clear that just because you won't notice UVA, it doesn't means that it's not there.

Luckily, there are a lot of sunscreens available lately that are called broad spectrum or PA+++. This means that they protect you from both UVA and UVB-rays. Can't find one of these terms on the packaging? Then the product only protects you against UVB and your skin is still at risk.

What is the difference between the factors?

The number after the word SPF (Sun Protection Factor) tells you how powerful your protection is. And yes, it has some differences. SPF30, for example, protects you against 97% of all UVB-rays and a factor 50 against 98%. The gap seems little, but covers a large dose of UV-radiation. The higher the SPF, the better. That is, if it's a broad spectrum sunscreen and protects against UVA as well of course.

Beware: a higher SPF doesn't means you have to apply less or less frequent. The product only has the power of its SPF when you follow the instructions on the packaging.

What is the difference between mineral and chemical sun protection?

Whereas you formerly just bought a nice SPF, there are way more options now. Name mineral and chemical filters for example. A mineral - also known as physical - filter forms a protective layer onto your skin which physically blocks the UV-rays. A chemical filter on the other hand, uses active ingredients to absorb rays, turn them into heat and then release them again. Next to the function of both filters, there are also other differences. A mineral filter tends to leave a whitecast and can make darker skin tones look ashy. Luckily, with the latest innovations, that's not always the case anymore. Chemical filters are often more transparent and have a lighter texture, but can lead to irritation on sensitive or acne-prone skin. Last but not least, some state that chemical SPF's can have negative influences on both the body and the planet, but opinions on this subject differ. Which option works best for you is totally up to your wishes and the needs of your skin.

How often do I have to apply sun protection?

That really depends on what you're doing that day. Are you spending your day indoors mid winter? You still want to apply an SPF to protect your skin from damaging. UVA-rays can go through glass and clouds, without you even noticing. You don't have to reapply every hour, but a solid base is always a good idea. When you're going outside during summer time, you definitely want to reapply every two hour minimum.

What is the best way to apply my SPF?

It's important to apply enough sun protection to really get the results out of your factor. Trending right now is the '2 Finger'-method, where you apply your sunscreen on the full length of two fingers before applying it onto. your face. This way, you'll make sure you are wearing enough protection. This is the amount that should be used on your face, not on your whole body.

To make sure you're not forgetting any parts of your face or body, it's best to work in sections. Apply your SPF one by one until you covered all sections. Make sure not to forget spots such as your ears, lips and feet.

Is the SPF of my moisturizer or makeup product sufficient?

Whenever a beauty product contains a SPF, it's always a great benefit. But if you're really spending your day outdoors, you're gonna need something stronger than that. You can probably imagine, when an SPF is added as an extra benefit to a different type of product, it's less powerful than using a dedicated sunscreen.

Do I apply my sunscreen before or after my moisturizer?

A SPF should always be applied as the final step of your skincare routine, before applying makeup. This way you'll make sure the sun protection is the most effective.

How do I reapply SPF during the day when I'm wearing makeup?

That's a tough one, still. When applying another layer of sun protection over your makeup, your look won't be as cute as before. The best option is to skip foundation, which makes it easier to reapply your SPF. If you do want to wear a complexion product, make sure there is a solid base of SPF under your makeup. Throughout the day you can pick a sunscreen powder or spray to reapply. These are easy to spread, which won't mess with your makeup. Make sure to apply a generous layer though.

Another option is to dab SPF onto your face by using a blender. Make sure to apply enough using this technique as well, as the blender can tend to absorb some product.

How do I pick the right sunscreen for my skin?

What product works best for you is totally up to your wishes and needs. After reading this article, you might have a slight preference in texture and filter type (mineral or chemical). The most important thing is to pick a product that you actually want to wear and reapply. Pick a SPF30 minimal, and rather go for a SPF30 that you love than a SPF50 that you're not into or irritates your skin. There are so many options available at this moment, there's definitely a perfect match for you out there!