Understanding Sunscreens, SPF, and Which Type is Best For You

Understanding Sunscreens, SPF, and Which Type is Best For You

It's important to take care and protect your skin. But understanding SPF's and navigating which type of sunscreen to use can be complicated. Here's our breakdown so you'll be covered for your next sunny adventure:



What does SPF even mean?

SPF stands for sun protection factor - basically how much a sunscreen protects you against UVB rays. The SPF number tells you how long you can be in the sun before UV radiation would burn your skin. Ex. SPF 30 would take you 30 times longer to burn than if you weren’t wearing sunscreen. 


What's UVB vs UVA rays?
Both UV's can harm and damage skin plus cause skin to burn. 
  • UVB rays play a key role in developing skin cancer. 
  • UVA rays cause skin damage like aging, spots, and wrinkles. 


Do all sunscreens protect you from UVB & UVA rays?
No, not all sunscreens do. Make sure to look for "broad spectrum" on the label, which means it can protect you from both. 


Does a higher SPF protect your skin more?
Experts, including the Skin Cancer Foundation, recommend SPF of at least 30. The FDA has indicated SPF higher than 50 is misleading. 


Which type of sunscreen: lotions/sprays/gels/sticks are better?

Studies have shown coverage to be similar and really it comes down to a personal preference. However, people don't typically use enough when applying sprays, which can lead to sunburns. So make sure you double up and cover the entire body. Sprays can also irritate the airways so be careful around your face, especially when applying to children. 

We personally recommend lotions for the entire body, as they tend to be more hydrating and proper application is easier to monitor. For the face, gels or sticks are a great option, as they tend to be thicker and less likely to irritate the eyes. 


Are sunscreens really waterproof?

No, sunscreens are not waterproof and the FDA has banned these claims. However, they can be water resistant. The FDA has regulated this to 40 or 80 mins water resistant only, which means the sunscreen retained their SPF after being in water/sweat for either 40 or 80 minutes. Sunscreen should be reapplied after this time. 


Chemical sunscreen vs. physical sunscreen?
Both can protect your skin from UVA & UVB rays. 
    • chemical:
      • contains compounds such as: oxybenzone, octinoxate, octisalate and avobenzone.
      • Absorbs into the skin to protect you from the sun
      • thinner and usually easier to apply
      • can cause skin irritations 
      • requires 20 mins wait time before sun exposure
      • can clog pores
      • can cause more damage to coral reef
    • physical:
      • contains active mineral ingredients such as: titanium dioxide or zinc oxide
      • sits on top of the skin to deflect the sun rays
      • usually thicker and white
      • better for sensitive skin 
      • ideal for acne prone skin
      • offers protection from both UVA and UVB rays
      • longer shelf life
      • can rub or sweat off easy 
      • safer for coral reef
We personally love physical sunscreens for the benefits they can have on skincare and the ocean. 
Do all skin types need sunscreen?

Yes, no matter your skin's pigment you need sunscreen and can burn. So lather up everyone. 


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