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Demystifying SPF: Understanding Different Types of Sun Protection

Updated: Sep 29, 2023


Lady shading from the sun

As the days get longer and the sun shines brighter, it becomes increasingly important to protect our skin from the harmful effects of ultraviolet (UV) rays. However, not all sunscreens are created equal. At a minimum sunscreens should contain SPF (Sun Protection Factor) 30 or higher, and provide broad-spectrum protection (UVA and UVB). In this blog, we'll explore the different types of SPF, including chemical and physical sunscreens, as well as SPF found in makeup and powder. Let's dive in and learn how to safeguard our skin effectively!




1. Chemical Sunscreens: Chemical sunscreens work by absorbing UV radiation and converting it into heat. Common chemical ingredients include avobenzone, octinoxate, and oxybenzone. These sunscreens are usually easy to apply and offer broad-spectrum protection against both UVA and UVB rays. However, some individuals with sensitive skin may experience irritation or allergic reactions. It's essential to choose a sunscreen suitable for your skin type.





2. Physical Sunscreens: Physical sunscreens, often referred to as mineral sunscreens, provide a physical barrier by reflecting and scattering UV rays away from the skin. They typically contain titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide as active ingredients. Physical sunscreens are generally well-tolerated, making them a popular choice for individuals with sensitive skin. They provide immediate protection upon application and are effective against both UVA and UVB rays.



3. SPF in Makeup: Many cosmetic products, such as foundations, tinted moisturizers, and BB creams, now come with added SPF. While these products can provide an additional layer of sun protection, relying solely on makeup for SPF is generally not sufficient. Most makeup products do not provide adequate coverage and require a significant amount of product to reach the stated SPF. It's best to use a separate sunscreen underneath your makeup to ensure proper protection.



4. Powder SPF: Powder sunscreens have gained popularity in recent years due to their convenience and ease of use. They usually contain minerals like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. Powder sunscreens can be applied on top of makeup or throughout the day for touch-ups. However, it's important to note that powder sunscreens may not offer the same level of protection as traditional lotions or creams. It's recommended to use them as a supplement to your regular sunscreen routine. Don't forget to protect your lips - use a lip balm containing SPF!






Protecting our skin from the damaging effects of the sun is crucial for maintaining its health and preventing signs of ageing and skin cancer. Understanding the different types of SPF products available empowers us to make informed choices about sun protection. Whether you opt for a chemical or physical sunscreen, remember to select a broad-spectrum product with a sufficient SPF value, suited to your skin type. While SPF in makeup and powder sunscreens can offer additional protection, they should not replace dedicated sunscreen application. You should also seek shade between 10am and 2pm, avoid tanning and UV tanning booths and cover up with clothing and wear a broad rim hat. Sunscreen should be worn everyday, even on the cloudiest day in winter, as UV will still cause skin damage. Stay safe, stay protected!


Your journey to radiant skin starts now!


Dr Gemma x




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