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All You NEED To Know About Sunscreen For Sun Protection

Whether you’re heading for the beach for a mini getaway or just shopping around town, here is how to protect your skin from the sun.

Follow these sun-smart rules on why sunscreen is so important, and how to make it work its hardest for you for the best sun protection. Plus when it’s 24/7 sunny here in Singapore, doubling up on your sun protection knowledge may be something you’d want to do.

How much sunscreen do you need?

Apply the equivalent of a shot glass, or two tablespoons, to the exposed areas of the face and body. A large, coin-sized dollop belongs on your face alone.

What is SPF?

SPF, or Sun Protection Factor, indicates a sunscreen’s ability to prevent UVB skin damage. (UVB rays cause accelerated melanin production and burning.) Say it takes unprotected skin 20 minutes to start turning red in the sun – using an SPF 30 sunscreen theoretically means your skin won’t start to burn for 20 minutes x 30 = 10 hours. Of course, no sunscreen clings to your skin for that long in real-world conditions, so keep it coming all day long.

What about UVA rays?

Another component of UV rays, UVA rays penetrate deeper and damage support tissues like collagen, causing skin to wrinkle and age prematurely. To check if your sunscreen provides UVA protection, look out for either “PA” or “broad spectrum protection”. A PA++++ (the highest rating yet) provides better protection than a product that’s PA++.

When is sunscreen needed?

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Whether you’re out in the sun or logging another day at work, you need sunscreen. Whether your complexion is dark or fair, you need sunscreen. Even if your makeup already contains SPF, you still need sunscreen. (Is the message sinking in yet?)

And just because it’s rainy and gloomy doesn’t mean you get a pass – up to 80 percent of UV rays can still penetrate clouds, haze and windows. You’re also exposed to UV rays reflected by the ground (sand reflects around 20 percent of the sun’s rays). In short, lotion your face daily; don’t forget about your ears, the back of your neck and hands.

How often do I need apply sunscreen for sun protection?

Particularly if you’re going to be outdoors for longer than two hours, a single coating isn’t going to cut it. The active ingredients in sunscreen break down over time, so reapplication is a must.

After putting on sunscreen, wait 20 minutes before stepping out to allow it to stabilise on your skin. You’ve got two hours before you need to reapply sunscreen if you’re outdoors under direct sunlight, or more frequently after swimming, sweating or towelling off. Even if you’re in the water, you should have a good 40 minutes of sun shielding when using sunscreen labelled ‘water resistant’.

What are UV filters?

Generally classified into two types, chemical filters absorb and convert UV rays to safer energy by the time it reaches our skin, while physical filters reflect UV rays. Those different types of UV filters tend to be effective against different wavelengths of UV light, so most sunscreens contain a mix to give you broad spectrum protection.

Some people who have sensitive, allergy-prone skin might prefer a sunscreen with less chemical filters and more physical filters like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide (look for ‘mineral-based sunscreen’ on the label).

What type of sunscreen is best?

Whatever kind you’re actually going to use! A spray, lotion, cream, gel or stick comes down to personal preference (With a spray, you might want to spritz your hands first, then rub onto your face.) Check out Lazada for sunscreens and other beauty products all under one roof!

What are micronised particles?

When you think about titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, you probably imagine white streaks across your face. Fast forward to today, though, and most sunscreens that contain these physical filters now have an invisible finish and lightweight feel – the result of new micro technology which makes particle size super fine. Not only do these sunscreens provide the protection you need, they’re also a pleasure to apply.

Originally by Joyce Cheo, The Singapore Women’s Weekly, June 2014; Charmaine Ong, HerWorldPlus, June 2016 / Last updated by Brooke Glassberg / Last updated by Jasia Shamdasani, May 2021

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