Best SPF for the face: an overview of facial sunscreen and why you need it everyday


One of, if not, the most essential part of our skincare routines. And, in this post, we will answer the most burning questions regarding sunscreen in order to help you find the best sunscreen for you.

There is a lot of misinformation floating around about sunscreen, whether it is absolutely necessary to wear it everyday, some have even gone as far as to state that there are ingredients in sunscreen that can actually cause cancer, instead of reducing the risk. So, what is the truth, scientifically speaking, at least?


Following research from many scientists it has been discovered that overexposure to the sun can cause premature ageing and increase the risk of developing mutations in the skin cells, and can eventually lead to skin cancer. Therefore, sunscreen really is the holy grail beauty product.


If when you think of sunscreen, you have flashbacks to thick, greasy lotions which can leave an awful white caste, that is understandable. But luckily for all of us, skincare really has come a long way, and the formulations for sunscreens are improving rapidly.


And with such a high demand, there really is sunscreen for everyone, whether you have oily, sensitive, acne-prone or dry skin or anything in between.


One of the most commonly asked questions regarding the sun is how it affects and can ultimately damage the skin. According to Cancer Research, the sun naturally emits UV rays, both UVA (which penetrates deeper than UVB into the skin and causes premature ageing) and UVB (which causes sunburn and damage to the surface layer of the skin).


It is these UV rays which the sun gives off which affect the skin and ultimately damage it, an overexposure to UV can harm the DNA in the cells and cause mutations which can eventually lead to skin cancer such as melanoma and other skin conditions such as Actinic Keratosis (rough, scaly skin spots which can also lead to cancer).

Following research from many scientists it has been discovered that overexposure to the sun can cause premature ageing and increase the risk of developing mutations in the skin cells, and can eventually lead to skin cancer. Therefore, sunscreen really is the holy grail beauty product.

Katherine Brown

Is it necessary to use sunscreen every day?


Yes, unfortunately even on cloudy days UVA and UVB rays can still penetrate and cause damage to your skin. Thus, it really is necessary to use sunscreen every day, whatever the weather, whatever the season.


Does Blue light from technology damage your skin?


There have been recent studies suggesting a possible link between blue light, the light from our laptops, phones etc, and photo-ageing, damage to the skin caused by light. There is a possibility that blue light can cause pigmentation issues and long-term exposure to excessive blue light can act as another type of skin aggressor which can lead to the breaking down of collagen. But research on this is relatively new and scarce so there needs to be more research on this topic before we can draw conclusions on the impact of blue light on skin.


If blue light damage is something you are concerned about however, a mineral sunscreen may be an option for you. The ingredients titanium dioxide and zinc oxide commonly found in mineral sunscreens work to reflect light rays and harmful UV rays.

Is it necessary to use sunscreen every day

What does sunscreen do for your skin? What is the difference between chemical and mineral sunscreens?


Sunscreen works as a shield to protect  the skin against harmful UV rays, it works by slowing down and minimising the amount of UV penetrating the skin. Depending on whether you opt for chemical or mineral sunscreen will decipher how  your sunscreen works to protect your skin from the sun.


Physical sunscreen contains mineral ingredients titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, and blocks and scatters the UV rays before they are able to reach and penetrate the skin.


Chemical sunscreen, also known as ‘organic’ sunscreen protection, contains one or more active ingredients such as avobenzone, homosalate, octinoxate, octisalate, octocrylene, oxybenzone. Chemical sunscreen works by absorbing the sun’s rays before the UV rays can penetrate and damage the skin.


What are the best facial sunscreen brands?


There are many sunscreen brands on the market now and as a rookie, you may not even know where to begin, what ingredients to look out for, and depending on your skincare needs, which ones to avoid. However, many brands such as Heliocare 360 have been able to formulate sunscreens catering to various skin care needs. If you are an oily-skin girl like myself and are looking for something mattifying, I would recommend sunscreens with a more gel-like texture like for example the Heliocare 360 Oil-Free Gel SPF 50. The light-weight formula is great for those with acne-prone or oily skin who want to avoid heavy products which could lead to clogged pores.


Alternatively, if you have sensitive skin, prone to redness and/or breakouts then the PCA skin Protecting Hydrator Broad Spectrum SPF30 which contains Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract could be a great fit. Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract is another superstar ingredient in skincare which has soothing, anti-inflammatory properties which can calm redness and irritation (one of the reasons it is highly recommended as a sunburn relief!).


So it is great to see brands adding this ingredient into their sunscreen formulas as well. Further for all those science nerds out there, according to Ceramiracle, when applied topically, the compound aloin in aloe vera blocks up to 30% of the UV rays and protects the skin from sun damage. Thus, a sunscreen such as the PCA Broad Spectrum SPF works as a double whammy sun-protector fighting UV rays in more ways than one containing Octinoctate, Zinc Oxide and Octisalate which help to block and absorb UV rays and Aloe Barbadensis to soothe and protect skin from those pesky environmental aggressors.


However, I would like to add that some people with sensitive skin which is also prone to breakouts, do not react well to Zinc Oxide, a mineral sunscreen ingredient and may prefer to stick to chemical sunscreen formulas. There is a general expectation that mineral sunscreens can be on the heavier/thicker side in formulation and consequently can clog pores, leading to possible breakouts. But this is not a one size fits all. I personally have had problems with frequent hormonal acne breakouts and have not found issues with mineral sunscreen formulations, but it is something worth noting and considering when finding a match for your skin.


And if you are looking to branch out even further, I would recommend dipping your toes into the world of Asian skincare. With so many products and brands, it can seem overwhelming at first, but Korean and Japanese sunscreens really are the model for which Western sunscreens are slowly catching on to.


If you are on a budget, Japanese sunscreens such as the Biore Water Gel and/or Essence are amazing products. The essence formula comes in a unique jelly-like texture, featuring star ingredients such as hylarounic acid great for an extra layer of hydration, leaving a subtle glow to the skin. The Water Gel is a great option for those looking for a matte finish sunscreen. Though from personal experience I would say that reapplying this sunscreen can be a bit drying after the second or third top up. And, the water gel leaves a slight white caste, whereas the essence glides onto the skin with no white caste whatsoever.


A few other Korean brands worth checking out are Purito who offer both chemical and mineral sunscreen formulas, Make P:rem which offers a few mineral sunscreen formulations and Cosrx.

When should you use sunscreen in your daily skincare routine

Is sunscreen a good moisturizer?

The first sunscreen I ever used was The Body Shop Skin Defence Multi-Protection Essence SPF 50+ which I used as a moisturiser and sunscreen, it was a chemical sunscreen and overall I had a pretty great experience with it. It was lightweight and did not break me out as sunscreens in the past had done.


But, generally speaking, I would recommend using a separate moisturiser and sunscreen. It is not because a moisturiser with SPF is not good, any sort of sun protection is a plus. It is simply that the amount of SPF you need to use is usually double the amount of moisturiser you would use.

So when applying a moisturiser with say SPF 30, there is a chance that you are not getting the full benefit of that sun protection. There are different opinions on how much sunscreen you should be applying but a general rule of thumb is a teaspoon size amount.

Sunscreen should be the last step in your morning skincare routine. A good general rule of thumb for a basic skincare routine is: cleanser, moisturiser, SPF.

Katherine Brown

When should you use sunscreen in your daily skincare routine?


A great question. Sunscreen should be the last step in your morning skincare routine. A good general rule of thumb for a basic skincare routine is: cleanser, moisturiser, SPF.


Hopefully, this post has aided in understanding the ways in which the sun can damage the skin, the differences between chemical and physical sunscreen formulations and what ingredients to look out for when finding the sunscreen for you. As always with skincare, there is not one size fits all, and every product and, in this case, sunscreen, that works for me, may not work for you. But I hope that through this post, trying and testing for yourself, you can find the perfect match sunscreen for you.


If you would like to learn even more in depth on the science behind SPF, I would highly recommend checking out the British Association of Dermatologists: