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What SPF Should I Use?

What SPF Should I Use?
2 years ago
View Hollie's profile

Protect your delicate skin from damage and premature ageing by wearing SPF sun protection. We’ve previously discussed what SPF means to help you understand what SPF is and what it does for your skin and here we’ll be discussing the SPFs available to try. With so many SPFs available to buy, it can be confusing to find the right SPF for your skin type and its particular needs, that’s why we’ve created this expert guide on what SPF to use.

What Is SPF?

SPF or sun protection factor tells you how much longer you can stay in the sun without getting sunburn vs the amount of time without wearing any sunscreen. SPF 30 is the most common level of protection, however, you can also use SPF 15 and SPF 50 which provide different levels of protection. Wearing SPF whether you’re prone to sunburn or not, is very important to help avoid skin damage and the signs of premature ageing.

We spoke to expert dermatologist, Dylan Greeney to learn everything there is to know about SPF including what the SPF numbers mean, which formula is best suited to what occasion and much more.

What does the number on SPF mean?

While most sunscreens are broad-spectrum, SPF is a rating of protection against UVB which are the suns burning UV rays. An SPF of 15 would mean you could stay in the sun 15x longer before burning. So for a person who would normally burn in 15 minutes (without sunscreen) used an SPF 15 sunscreen shouldn’t show signs of burning for 225 minutes (15 x 15.) This of course only stands true if enough is applied and it’s reapplied regularly.

When would a lower SPF be recommended and when would a higher one be recommended?

Sometimes very high SPF sunscreens have a higher concentration of zinc oxide or titanium dioxide which are opaque. Certain high SPF mineral sunscreens can be a bit chalky and leave a white cast. In this case, you may be best served by sticking to the 30-50 SPF range or using a chemical sunscreen in which SPFs even up to 100 leave no white cast.

Those with a history of skin cancer or those fighting skin conditions such as hyperpigmentation like melasma should use an SPF of at least 30 but ideally 50 in my opinion. The tiniest bit of sun exposure can flare up skin hyperpigmentation and make it feel like you are treading water when you are trying to treat it.

What are the pros and cons of spray-on SPF?

There is no doubt that spray sunscreens are easy to apply but most people don’t realise they still need to be rubbed in to provide their best protection. For some people like athletes like golfers/tennis players who need to keep their hands clean and dry, spray sunscreen may be a great option. Since spray sunscreens are aerosolized one risk is getting them in your eyes or breathing them in. To avoid this during facial application, spray the sunscreen into your hands and then apply it to your face.

When should water-resistant SPF be worn (or avoided?)

If you're planning to have any contact with water or if you are going to be doing activities that make you sweaty, I would consider using a body sunscreen that is water-resistant. In my experience, these sometimes can feel a bit thicker or greasier so I don’t personally use them day to day but they are great for the beach, pool or waterpark.

What are broad-spectrum SPFs?

Broad-spectrum means that sunscreen protects you from both UVA (ageing rays) and UVB (burning rays). You certainly want your sunscreen to be broad-spectrum because both types of rays are harmful and damaging to your skin. A broad-spectrum sunscreen is one of the best ways to prevent premature ageing, wrinkles, dark spots, and skin cancer.

Are mineral-based or natural SPFs recommended?

Mineral-based sunscreens are my favourite type of sun protection and what I tend to personally use. Most mineral-based sunscreens use zinc oxide or titanium dioxide to provide sun protection rather than chemical sunscreen ingredients. These are great especially for people with sensitive skin. Mineral-based sunscreens also have a lower chance of allergy and irritation.

Recent information has shown that chemical sunscreens are absorbed into the body despite this there is no evidence that this absorption causes any harm inside our bodies. I tell people if they want to avoid this concern all together simply use a mineral-based sunscreen that sits on top of their skin and isn’t absorbed. I think mineral sunscreens are great for children, especially infants.*

What are the different considerations when choosing SPF for the face versus the rest of the body?

While people may tolerate a thicker feeling sunscreen on their bodies they probably won't on their face. Facial sunscreen is generally formulated to be elegant and lightweight. Many facial sunscreens also offer a tinted variant that not only provides visible light protection but also can act as a very mild concealer.

Other facial sunscreens have shimmer or other glow products to create a radiant look. I never hesitate to spend a little more money on facial sunscreen since I wear it every single day rain or shine.

Facial sunscreen is by far the cheapest and best intervention we can take for our skin to prevent ageing and skin cancer. Most facial sunscreen comes in smaller quantities so using this type on the body definitely isn’t necessary and is likely cost-prohibitive.

Which Are The Best SPF’s

Dermalogica Dynamic Skin Recovery SPF50REN Clean Skincare Clean Screen Mineral SPF30La Roche-Posay Anthelios Ultra-Light Invisible Fluid SPF50+ Sun CreamLa Roche-Posay Anthelios Invisible Sun Protection SPF50+ Body MistVICHY Idéal Soleil Dry Touch Face Cream SPF 50DECLÉOR Aloe Vera Suncare Face Cream SPF50+SkinCeuticals Ultra Facial UV Defense SPF50 Sunscreen Protection

Dermalogica Dynamic Skin Recovery SPF50

This SPF50 moisturiser will help soften your skin whilst defending against environmental aggressors. Your skin will be protected from the sun's UV rays whilst preventing wrinkles, age spots and pigmentation. The brand’s blend of AGE Smart® ingredients helps your skin fight free radicals from the sun. Our customers love how this moisturiser helps nourish skin that is on the drier side.

Key Features ● Formulated for mature skin. ● Great for dry skin.

REN Clean Skincare Clean Screen Mineral SPF30

Formulated for daily use, this mineral SPF is ideal for sensitive skin types. The silicone-free formulation offers broad-spectrum UVA/UVB and blue light defence. This gentle SPF will not leave a chalky cast and is powered by 22% non-nano, naturally sourced Zinc Oxide. This mineral SPF forms a non-comedogenic barrier that intercepts the sun’s harmful rays without causing any irritation.

Key Features

● Suitable for all skin types. ● Silicone-free. ● Vegan. Cruelty-free.

La Roche-Posay Anthelios Ultra-Light Invisible Fluid SPF50+ Sun Cream

Nourish and protect your skin with this lightweight, yet high protection SPF50. Your skin will not be left looking or feeling greasy upon application. This SPF creates a barrier against the sun's rays, reducing the risk of burning. This sunscreen also includes PPD (Persistent Pigment Darkening) factor of 46, which is stricter than the European recommendation for sun protection and offers optimum protection against external aggressors. Our customers report there is zero oiliness, transfer or white cast from this SPF. Key Features

● Ideal for sensitive skin. ● Non-greasy.

La Roche-Posay Anthelios Invisible Sun Protection SPF50+ Body Mist

Defend and protect your skin from the sun's powerful rays with this SPF50 protection from La Roche-Posay. Infused with Mexoplex®, Mexoryl XL and Mexoryl SX, this SPF body mist provides protection against UVB and UVA rays. Our customers that suffer from prickly heat noticed that their pores don’t get clogged when using this gentle mist. Key Features ● Lightweight mist. ● Non-greasy.

VICHY Idéal Soleil Dry Touch Face Cream SPF 50

For very high sun protection, choose this non-greasy and mattifying face cream. To help protect your delicate skin against the harmful effects of the sun this product has an added spectrum filter system and photostable UVA-UVB based Mexoryl ®. Our customers with acne reported their skin not breaking out after using this potent SPF.

Key Features ● No parabens. ● Hypoallergenic. ● Photostable. ● Water-resistant. ● Enriched with Vichy Thermal Spa Water '.

DECLÉOR Aloe Vera Suncare Face Cream SPF50+

Our customers love how lightweight this SPF feels when applied to their faces. You can rely on this SPF50 for a smoother, even, bright and youthful-looking complexion that protects your skin from environmental aggressors. This hydrating cream is enriched with Aloe Vera and Sesame oil to maintain firmness and suppleness.

Key Features ● Contains hydrating and soothing aloe vera.

SkinCeuticals Ultra Facial UV Defense SPF50 Sunscreen Protection

This broad-spectrum SPF50 protects your skin from UV induced collagen breakdown which causes premature ageing including wrinkles, fine lines and hyperpigmentation. Our customers love how this lightweight sunscreen sits under makeup as well as how easy it sinks into the skin. Key Features ● Great for wearing under makeup. ● Non-greasy.

And if you’re looking to prolong your tan, LOOKFANTASTIC recommends:

Lancaster Sun Tan Maximizer After Sun Oil

Soothe your skin with this moisturising 6-oil sun tan maximizer. Helping to prolong your tan for up to one month, this luxurious oil helps to reduce the risk of peeling whilst aiding the skin's natural recovery process. Your skin will be left soft, supple and beautiful. Our customers reported their tan being maintained without their skin becoming dehydrated and flaky.

Key Features ● Suitable for sensitive skin.

I've been writing about hair and beauty for over 10 years. I am a collector of vintage perfume and my go-to look always includes a bold pink lip! For more, visit