Third layer: sunscreen

Third Layer: Sunscreen

To give your skin the best protection, choose a sunscreen that protects against UVA and UVB. UVA is associated with tanning, ageing and photo-damage, while UVB is associated with burning. Both UVA and UVB contribute to the development of skin cancer. Most of your standard supermarket brands will guard you against UVB, but you need to ensure you’re protected from UVA, too. As such, always look for the word ‘broad-spectrum’ on the label.

We also prefer physical, not chemical, sunscreens. What’s the difference? While chemical sunscreens contain compounds made in a laboratory, physical sunscreens contain natural minerals ground to fine powders. There are two types of physical sunscreens: zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. As physical blockers don’t decompose through sun exposure, they have a longer life on your skin. When the sun hits you, chemical sunscreens absorb the UV rays and release their energy in harmless ways. A physical sunscreen will reflect the rays, not allowing them to penetrate the skin. They should be applied on top of all your other skincare and make-up.

On the other hand, chemical sunscreens need to be applied first – so after cleansing, but before any other products or make-up. Also keep in mind that SPF isn’t an amount of protection per se. The number indicates how long it’ll take for UVB rays to redden the skin when using a sunscreen, compared to when you don’t use sunscreen. Wear SPF 30, for example, and you will take 30 times longer to redden than without the SPF 30. When you sweat or swim, it becomes less effective, so always remember to reapply.  

Our pick

You may remember zinc from when you were a kid. The thick formula had zero spread and looked cakey and white (or neon pink or green) on your face. You’ll be happy to know that zinc has come a long way. Our faves feature micronised zinc, which means they’re transparent and won’t make you look like you’re wearing a mask when you apply them.

Try O Cosmedics Mineral Pro SPF 30+, $45, which contains 20 per cent zinc oxide. Mesoestetic Dermatological Sun Protection SPF 50+, $69, and SkinCeuticals Ultimate UV Defense SPF 30, $61.80, are great for the face, while Key Sun Clear Zinke 50+, $19, is cheaper and perfect for applying over your face, neck and body for days at the beach.