Everyone seems to be talking about SPF lately. For those of us familiar with Asian skincare or who have lived in Asian climates, you will have likely been slapping on a SPF Factor 50 PA++++ for years. Every damn day. But the idea of putting on a high factor suncream on a daily basis is still relatively strange to most of my friends. Don’t get me wrong, when I grew up I was all about that tan and dousing tanning oils on me but I always noticed how red, irritated and dry my skin felt afterwards. As I got older, I also began noticing those older women with wrinkly, sagging skin who had obviously spent too many years in the sun and thought ‘nah, I WILL not look like that!’
Using an SPF daily has personally really helped the condition of my skin and I think this is important to point out. It always seems as though using a daily SPF basically translates to: ‘I don’t want to get tanned and want to be as pale as possible’. That’s not the case. I just don’t want early wrinkles and using an SPF daily helped even out my skin tone leaving my skin looking and feeling brighter.
Chemical v Physical
Essentially, there are two ways in which suncreams can protect skin from the sun’s rays.
- The physical REFLECTOR: Acts as a filter that blocks UV radiation by creating a physical barrier on top of the skin so rays bounce off it.
- The chemical ABSORBANT: Absorb the sun’s rays and then destroys them by turning them in to heat.
It’s entirely up to you! People usually shy away from the word ‘chemical’ but you’ve probably been using chemical suncreams for most of your life. Chemical suncreams are the most common and arguably offer more coverage against UVA and UVB rays. However, they can irritate those with extremely sensitive skin. Physical suncreams however, usually are the ones that create a white cast so brands have tried to improve these physical formulations through nano-technology (where the core physical ingredient, for example zinc oxide, is ground up so that it doesn’t leave a white cast but still gives the same protection.) That said, there are some people who are now opting for non-nano formulations safe in the knowledge that these ground up particles are not entering the bloodstream.