Sunscreen: this before that…

Posted by on Sep 17, 2014

Sunscreen chemical and physicalWith the onset of Spring and the rapid increase in UV rays, sunscreen should be the most important step in your skincare routine right now. Speak to anyone with UVA damage and pigmentation and they will quickly tell you how difficult it is to treat and get rid of permanently. Sun avoidance (unrealistic) and sunscreen (realistic) are the best protection you’ve got against UVA rays. But when should you apply your sunscreen? Is it before your moisturiser or after? It seems simple but the answer isn’t straightforward because it depends on the type of sunscreen you are using.

The first step is to identify which type of sunscreen you are using, chemical or physical. They work differently and therefore you apply them differently. The best way to differentiate the two is by their active ingredient list.

Physical sunscreens typically contain zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. They usually feel thicker and have a heavier appearance, leaving either a white cast or tint. Chemical sunscreens contain ingredients like avobenzone, octinoxate, and helioplex. They are usually oil free and feel light and matte on the skin. If you’re using a physical sunscreen, make sure it’s the last step in your skincare routine, applied after all your other skincare products and just before you do your makeup. The ingredients in a physical sunscreen work by acting as a shield to physically reflect UVA and UVB rays away from our face, so you want that shield to be the last step in your skincare routine. Once it’s on you are immediately protected.

Chemical sunscreens are the opposite. They work by absorbing and disbursing the UV rays. This means that you need to apply them first, to clean, dry skin. It makes sense because you don’t want the ingredients in your other skincare products interfering and breaking down the sunscreen’s effectiveness. You need to allow 20-30 minutes for a chemical sunscreen to take effect, but only a few minutes before applying your regular skincare and makeup on top.

I hope this helps you stay sun protected this Spring/Summer!

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