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Choosing a Sunscreen: What’s the Right SPF for Your Skin?

Posted By: Lic. Silvia Derasner | June 28th, 2021 | Blog

Adequate sun protection is extremely important if you’re planning on spending a significant amount of time outdoors during the summer months. Overexposure to direct harsh sunlight can have adverse effects on your skin including causing dryness, heat rashes, sunburns, discolouration, wrinkles, sagging skin, and even melanoma (skin cancer) in worst case scenarios.

The best way to protect your delicate skin from the harmful impact of UV rays is to wear sunscreen with the appropriate SPF level. How do you know if you’re using the right sunscreen for your personal skin protection needs?

Keep reading for some great tips for choosing a sunscreen for summer and to learn about the benefits of protecting the skin you’re in.

How Does Sunscreen Work and Why Do You Need Sunscreen for Summer?

Keep in mind that not all sunscreens are exactly the same. They each have different formulations and levels of sun protection, which is why choosing the right one based on your skin type and the amount of sun exposure you get in your area matters.

Most over-the-counter sunscreen brands consist of dual action skin protection formulas to prevent sun damage from occurring. On the one hand, they contain titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, which are two physical particles that reflect UV radiation. On the other hand, sunscreen also contains certain chemical compounds that block UV radiation from permeating the layer of sunscreen applied and getting to the skin itself.

Sunscreen essentially acts as a protective barrier that absorbs UV rays from the sun and releases it back into the atmosphere in the form of heat. Since all skin types are different and require varying levels of protection depending on the amount of sun exposure they get on a regular basis, it’s important to take your time choosing the right sunscreen for your circumstances.

How to Choose the Right Sunscreen for Your Skin

Do your research when choosing a sunscreen for your skin type and tone. Here are some great skin protection and anti-aging tips to help you maintain a youthful appearance.

Consider Sun Protection Factor (SPF)

Sunscreen products typically contain some level of SPF. You’ve most likely seen SPF 15, SPF 30, SPF 60, etc. on your sunscreen labels. But have you ever stopped to consider what this means and why it’s important?

The SPF rating indicates the strength of the sunscreen and its ability to protect against UVA and UVB rays. People with light or fair skin that are prone to heat rashes and burning should opt for higher SPF protection, whereas people with darker skin tones typically need lower to moderate SPF sunscreen.

If you’re planning on spending several hours or an entire day outdoors, then you should reapply sunscreen about every two hours for optimal protection. Sunscreen should also be applied on less sunny days as well because your skin can still be exposed to UV rays. In fact, it’s recommended that you use a daily moisturizer that contains a minimum SPF 15 to get some protection.

Broad Spectrum

When you see the term “broad spectrum” on a sunscreen label, it just means that the product protects against both UVA and UVB radiation equally. These products typically have an SPF ranging between 30 and 50 or higher and are more capable of preventing sunburns on days when the sun is particularly strong.

There has been some speculation that sunscreens with an SPF over 50 don’t actually offer any additional protection despite being more expensive, but the jury is still out on that one.


Use sweat and water-resistant or sports/swimming-grade sunscreen if you’re planning on spending a day at the pool or beach. Some labels may say moisture-resistant, which is essentially the same thing. Regular sunscreen may wash off the second you get into the water or start engaging in outdoor activities that make you sweat.

Moisture-resistant sunscreen is meant to withstand water and sweat contact and offers exceptional protection. For optimal skin protection, choose a moisture-resistant sunscreen with a minimum SPF 30 or higher and reapply it about once every hour.

No or Minimal Skin Irritation, Acne, and Dryness

Read the ingredients on the label of the sunscreen very carefully before purchasing it. If you have sensitive, acne-prone, or dry skin, some sunscreen products on the market may cause skin irritation. Make sure that you’re not allergic to any of the chemical or physical particle ingredients listed on the label.

Some sunscreens may have a high alcohol content, which can lead to dryness and irritation. Others contain UV filters like titanium dioxide or zinc oxide that can also irritate your skin. When trying out a new sunscreen for the first time, always test it out on a small patch of skin before lathering it on all over your body. Leave it on for a few minutes to see if you have an adverse reaction. That way, you’ll know if the sunscreen is safe to use on your skin.

Other Ways to Stay Safe while Having Fun in the Sun

After the long and crazy year and a half we’ve all had, it’s no wonder more and more people are eager to get outside and enjoy time with loved ones. Here are a few other great tips for protecting your skin.

Wear a Hat

Most people are conscious about protecting their skin from the harmful UV rays of the sun, but the scalp often gets neglected. Contrary to what you might think, your hair doesn’t protect your scalp from sun damage and you can actually get a sunburn on the top of your head. Wearing a hat or even scalp sunscreen can help protect your head from harmful UV rays.

Cover Up Your Skin

Wear light, breathable clothing such as a crochet cover-up at the beach that helps keep you cool while protecting your skin. For a day out on the town, wear fabrics that offer ultimate sun protection such as cotton, hemp, rayon, polyester, nylon, or flax.

Carry an Umbrella

Umbrellas aren’t just for rainy days. They also provide excellent shade on particularly hot and sunny days to protect your skin and prevent you from overheating.

Get Sunburn, Acne, and Anti-Aging Treatment in Toronto

Spending too much time in direct sunlight can prematurely age your skin. But it can also result in painful and unsightly sunburns as well as acne breakouts due to the intense heat and humidity that clogs your pores. The Anti Aging Toronto Clinic provides extensive sunburn, acne, and anti-aging treatments in Toronto that can help offset and diminish the effects of sun damage on your skin. Book a consultation to learn more.

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