Summer memories are some of my fondest. Whether it was spent on holidays lounging by the pool, playing at the beach with family as a child or with friends sipping on cocktails, days in the sun are my favourite.

Australian summer is just around the corner! To celebrate, we are bringing you a collection of stories just for the occasion. it’s time to get your mind, body and soul ready for those salty days!

To kick things off, we bring you a topic that is very close to my heart, the mighty sunscreen.

As a teenager, I was guilty of not reapplying sunscreen at the beach and I was ‘tanning’ too much. I have now seen the visible damage the sun has done to my skin and I know that with an active and outdoor lifestyle, using sunscreen is one of the simplest ways to protect my skin from premature ageing, further sun damage and skin cancer.

With so many products on the market to choose from and the myths that exist around using sunscreen, I wanted to break down some of those barriers. I recently had the pleasure of having some of my questions answered by Dr Scott McGregor, We Are Feel Good Inc. Co-Founder and Skin Cancer and Cosmetic Physician. Here is what I learnt:

Physical vs Chemical Sunscreen: What is the difference?

Chemical and physical filters work in the same way, by absorbing UV rays from the sun and converting them to heat. The only difference is how effectively they do this.

“There is a well-entrenched myth in the sunscreen world that zinc somehow works as an invisible shield that UV rays bounce off. This is simply not how it works.”

Chemical sunscreens are formulated with a combination of active ingredients to filter both UVA & UVB rays. This is what is considered as ‘broad-spectrum’ protection. Chemical sunscreen is technically considered ‘organic’, as the UV filters used are organic chemicals (substances that contain carbon).

The only downside to these varied ingredients within a product is that they may cause irritation or an allergic reaction for some of us. It’s important to carry out a patch test on the skin before use if this is ever a concern for you.

A physical sunscreen will generally use zinc oxide as a UV filter. Zinc oxide is an excellent broad-spectrum filter, covering almost the full range of UVA and UVB, but not to the same extent as a “chemical sunscreen” that is formulated with multiple filters.

Rather than being absorbed, physical sunscreens will generally sit on the skin. Zinc based sunscreens will usually feel heavier on the skin compared to chemical sunscreen due to the fewer ingredients in the formulas.

Modern technology has also seen the introduction of micronised zinc. This type of product is clear on application and less greasy on the skin. These zinc-based formulas are generally better for those with sensitive skin.

UV & SPF Ratings

Ultraviolet radiation (UV rays) is a form of energy produced by the sun. Those present in sunlight are categorised by ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B.

UVA rays penetrate the skin and lead to sun damage and cell damage (Most responsible for premature ageing)

UVB rays burn the outer layer of the skin and cause skin cancer.

Sun lotions provide a ‘screen’ for UV rays as opposed to completely blocking them so allows a portion of solar radiation onto your skin. UV rays can be damaging all year round, even on cloudy days so that is why it’s so important to protect ourselves daily.

SPF stands for sun protection factor and will determine the level of UV that will get through this ‘screen’.

Formulas with an SPF rating of 50 allows for one-fiftieth or 2% of UV to reach the skin. This means if you are thoroughly covered correctly, 98% of the UV is filtered. Comparable to an SPF15, the difference between the filter will only be 5%. Whatever SPF you choose, it’s important to reapply sunscreen to your skin after sweating or swimming.

If you are wearing SPF 50, realistically, how often should you be re-applying?

This depends on your activity and setting. For a day at the beach, for example, you really should be reapplying every 2 hours as a minimum, even if the label says 4 hours. Sweating and towelling will inadvertently remove sunscreen. Also, reapply after a swim and towelling. During the working day, I would recommend reapplying at lunchtime if going outside, and again after work if planning to go in the water.

So here’s to a great summer! May we all vow to remember to protect our skin to enjoy those incredible days in the sun.

Shop The Edit

SPF 50 Water Resistant Reef Safe Sunscreen
We Are Feel Good Inc. Signature Sunscreen SPF 50
Invisible Zinc
Face and Body Sunscreen  SPF 50
The Kind Sunscreen
The Kind Sunscreen SPF 30

By Genevieve Reynolds

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