The Alive Blog

SPF & Sunscreen 101

With so many sunscreens available, selecting one that is right for you can be a little daunting. Here's our guide to the top sunscreen and SPF questions our skin experts receive...

What is SPF?
SPF (sun protection factor) measures a sunscreen’s level of protection from UVB rays and the amount of time that the sunscreen will protect you from burning compared to how quickly your skin burns without sunscreen. For instance, if your skin starts burning 30 minutes after sun exposure with no protection, a sunscreen with SPF20 would prevent you from burning for 600 minutes (30 minutes x 20) or 10 hours.

Physical vs Chemical
When UV rays hit skin coated in physical blockers, they are reflected and cannot penetrate the skin. Physical sunscreens normally contain a mixture of Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide. The benefit of using a physical block is that you allow less chemicals to be absorbed into the skin. The down side of using a physical block is that they can be thick and white which is not particularly suitable for darker skins due to their whitish appearance on application. Physical blocks are not as efficient at blocking UVA and Titanium Dioxide can cause irritation in some skin types.

Chemical sunscreens are different because they contain ingredients that absorb the active UV rays and release the energy in harmless ways. This reduces ultraviolet radiation penetration to the skin that causes burning and cancers. Chemical protectors are lighter to wear and generally can’t be seen on the skin, making them more comfortable to wear. Some of the active ingredients in chemical sunscreens include Octocrylene, Avobenzone, Octinoxate and Oxybenzone.

TOP TIP #1 - Re-Apply, Re-Apply, Re-Apply!
Whether you’re using a chemical or physical sunscreen, you’ll need to make sure you reapply after swimming or excercising as the moisture from sweat and other water can lessen its effectiveness!

TOP TIP #2 - Less is More
If you spend time in the sun daily, try and find yourself a moisturiser with added SPF rather than applying both a moisturiser and sunscreen. Your pores will be less congested, with a lower chance of breakouts caused by excess oil & dirt.

Our Top Picks...

Pelactiv Skin Defense Face Lotion SPF30
A physical and chemical defense, light enough for all day use on the face.

ASAP Moisturising Daily Defence SPF30
Broad spectrum protection containing both physical and chemical blocks to ensure UVA and UVB defence. Perfect for day to day wear.

Thalgo Oxygen Defense Fluid SPF15
A super light moisturiser with UVA and UVB protection. Let your skin breathe and maintain its youthful appearance.

Aspect Dry Touch SPF50
A physical protectant, perfect for long lasting defence from UVA and UVB rays.

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