Sunscreen need to tick these boxes:
- The sun protection factor, or SPF, should be at least 30, preferably 50. SPF describes how much UV gets to the skin. SPF50 allows just 1/50th (2%) of the UV to reach the skin
- Go for broad spectrum protection, which filters the full UV light spectrum. UVB rays (290-320nm wavelengths) are responsible for most sunburn and DNA damage, but UVA rays (320-400nm) also cause DNA damage and accelerate skin ageing
- Aim for water resistant formulations, which stay on longer in sweaty conditions, and when exercising or swimming. But no sunscreen is completely waterproof
- Make sure the sunscreen is approved in Australia. Approval from the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) is the final must-have.
Pump pack, roll-on or spray?
The sunscreen delivery system is more important than you might think. Sunscreen works best when you use lots — a teaspoon for each limb, a teaspoon each for your front and back, and a teaspoon for your face and neck.
This is easiest to achieve with pump packs or squeeze tubes. People apply far less sunscreen when they use a roll-on. Spray-on sun screen is even worse; the TGA recommends you apply one-third of a whole can for proper coverage.
Look and feel, sensitive skin and kids
Now we get down to the finer choices in sunscreen, and they depend on your personal concerns and preferences. Here are a few common choices.
How to avoiding looking greasy
But there are non-greasy formulations, often marketed as “dry-touch” or “matte finish”. These can be comparatively expensive, but worth it if greasiness is your main barrier to using sun screen.
Your skin may still look shiny immediately after applying it. But it should return to a matte finish within 10-20 minutes as the sunscreen settles into the epidermis, the outer layer of the skin.