Beauty Breakdown: Sunscreen 101

 

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Believe it or not I’ve been religiously wearing sunscreen since i was 10 years old. Having very health-conscious Chinese aunts, I’ve always been reminded since young how important it is to ALWAYS wear sunscreen and protecting your skin from the sun.

Benefits of wearing sunscreen

If you want to maintain youthful and fair skin, wearing  sunblock is of pivotal importance. The biggest contributor to ageing skin is actually unprotected exposure to UV rays. That’s why Asian women look much younger compared to women of other ethnicities. Asian women either religiously apply and re-apply sunscreen, or actively seek protective shade. Sunbathing is pretty much out of the question. Even Lucy Liu, who’s famously known for looking decades younger than her actual age, attributes her youthful complexion to protecting her skin from the sun!

Wearing sunscreen significantly slows down the appearance of fine lines, age spots and wrinkles. Studies reveal that people below the age of 55 who used sunscreen regularly had 24% lesser chances of developing these ageing signs than non-sunscreen and irregular sunscreen users. By protecting your skin from the sun, essential skin proteins, such as collagen, keratin, and elastin are protected, ensuring that your skin’s plump, youthful and smooth texture is preserved for as long as possible.

If you’re plagued with acne, consider adding a gentle, non-irritating sunscreen into your skincare routine. The damage caused by unprotected and overexposure to the sun will cause skin irritation, resulting in breakouts in the weeks following over-exposure as the skin reacts to that damage.

Physical sunscreen vs. Chemical sunscreen

physical-chemical sunblock image. jpegNow, an important thing to note is that there are two types of sunscreens: physical and chemical sunscreens.

Physical/ Mineral  sunscreens: My favourite type of sun filters. There are two types of physical sun filters : zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Physical sun blockers are my preferred choice because they don’t tend to clog pores and don’t irritate sensitive skin. Physical sun filters protect the skin by reflecting or blocking UV rays from penetrating the skin. Imagine a protective shield guarding your skin from harmful UV rays. Besides that, zinc oxide has a host of skincare benefits other than blocking sun rays.

Zinc oxide has the ability to :

  • regulate oil production
  • functions as an anti-inflammatory,
  • reduce acne-causing bacteria,
  • increase skin’s collagen production and
  • improves healing of damaged tissues.

Titanium dioxide on the other hand is one of the sunscreen ingredients recommended by the American Academy of Dermatology and is suitable to be used even on babies due to its gentleness.

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The Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protection Lotion Broad Spectrum SPF 50+ WetForce for Sensitive Skin & Children is possibly the best sunscreen on the market. This sunscreen boasts a superior gentle formula using high SPF and broad spectrum mineral sun filters which block both UVA and UVB rays. The inclusion of antioxidants and plant extracts further boost skin protection level. Because this sunblock uses mineral sun blockers and contains high SPF level, it does leave a veil of slight white cast but i personally don’t mind it as i find this effect brightens my face.

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Chemical sunscreens: Chemical sunscreens absorb UV rays, then releases the UV rays as thermal energy instead of blocking the rays. Cosmetic companies like to use chemical sun filters because they don’t leave a white cast and feel really lightweight, making the sunblock look and feel cosmetically elegant on the skin . However, some chemical sunscreens are dangerous and highly photounstable, which means they tend to degrade under sunlight and start to absorb UV rays without breaking them down into heat energy, causing damage to the skin. Not all chemical sunscreens are harmful though. Most chemical sunscreens now are photostable, show little or no degradation under sunlight and less likely to cause irritation. However, one chemical sunscreen that i advise staying away from is Oxybenzone. In 2006, a study was published showing  oxybenzone as being photo-carcinogenic, or in other words, this ingredient exhibits cancerous characteristics and has a destructive effect on DNA whenever it was exposed to light. Therefore, the use of it in a sunblock is highly questionable and not recommendable. Other chemical sun filters that are photounstable and degrade in sunlight are Octisalate, Homosalate, Octinoxate and Avobenzone. When choosing a sunscreen product, my advice is to keep a look out for the presence of these 5 harmful chemical sun filters so you won’t end up buying a sunscreen with photounstable ingredients.

The Erborian BB Creme is a travel size product that i picked up from Sephora because i was looking for a sunscreen product for me to keep in my handbag. This little guy is basically a tinted sunblock, comprising of physical and photostable chemical sun filters that i like to use when i want to re-apply sunblock when i’m out and about. I love that this BB cream is extremely weightless and lightly evens out my skin tone whilst offering a good SPF 20 protection. Most importantly, this sunblock contains a plethora of skin-brightening and anti-ageing ingredients as well as antioxidants that would improve the overall tone and health of your skin over time.

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To find out more about the safety of certain sunscreen ingredients, please refer to Skinacea’s UV Filter Charts. That’s my sunscreen dictionary if i want to look up on the safety of a specific sunscreen ingredient. Hope this helps!

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Have fun and keep your skin protected under the sun!

Sources : Skinacea |Physical SPF vs. Chemical SPF (Acne.Org) | Stylecraze

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