How to Choose The Best Sunscreen For Your Skin Type

Choosing the right sunscreen is critical to protecting your skin from the harmful effects of UV rays, reducing the risk of skin cancer, and preventing premature aging. However, with the plethora of options available on the market, it can be overwhelming to find the best sunscreen that suits your specific skin type. In this guide, we’ll explore the different types of sunscreens, discuss the factors to consider when selecting a product, and provide practical tips to ensure your skin stays shielded and healthy, no matter the season.

Types of Sunscreens

Before we delve into the factors to consider when choosing a sunscreen, it’s essential to understand the different types of sunscreens available. The two main categories are physical and chemical sunscreens.

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1. Physical Sunscreens

Physical sunscreens contain mineral-based ingredients such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide that act as a barrier against UV rays by reflecting or scattering them. They are often referred to as “sunblock” and have a thicker consistency, making them suitable for people with dry or sensitive skin. Physical sunscreens start working immediately upon application, making them an excellent choice for those who need immediate protection.

2. Chemical Sunscreens

Chemical sunscreens function by absorbing UV rays and transforming them into heat, subsequently dissipating it from the skin. They usually contain active ingredients such as avobenzone, oxybenzone, and octinoxate. Chemical sunscreens have a thinner consistency and are often preferred by individuals with oily or acne-prone skin types as they feel lighter on the skin. However, they require approximately 20 minutes to start working after application.

Related: Sunscreen vs Sunblock

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Sunscreen

When choosing a sunscreen, it is crucial to take into account the following factors:

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  1. SPF (Sun Protection Factor) – The SPF number indicates how long you can stay in the sun without getting burned compared to not wearing sunscreen at all. For example, if it takes 10 minutes for your skin to burn without any protection, an SPF 30 sunscreen will protect you for 300 minutes (10 x 30). It’s recommended to use a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30.
  2. Broad Spectrum Protection – Look for sunscreens that provide protection against both UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays can penetrate deep into the skin and cause long-term damage, while UVB rays are responsible for sunburns.
  3. Water Resistance – If you plan on being in the water or sweating, it’s crucial to choose a sunscreen that is water-resistant to ensure it stays effective for the recommended time.
  4. Additional Ingredients – Some sunscreens also contain additional ingredients such as antioxidants, moisturizers, and anti-inflammatory agents that can provide added benefits for your skin.

Best sunscreen depends on your skin type.

The best sunscreen for you ultimately depends on your individual skin type. It’s essential to choose a product that not only provides adequate protection but also works well with your skin. Here are some tips to help you select the right sunscreen for your specific skin type:

  • Dry or Sensitive Skin: Look for physical sunscreens with moisturizing and soothing ingredients such as aloe vera or hyaluronic acid. Opt for sunscreens with a creamier consistency rather than gels or sprays.
  • Oily or Acne-Prone Skin: Choose a lightweight, non-comedogenic (non-pore clogging) sunscreen with a matte finish. Avoid heavy formulations and opt for oil-free options instead.
  • Normal Skin: Lucky you! Most sunscreens will work well for normal skin types. Just make sure to choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 and reapply regularly.
  • Combination Skin: If you have combination skin, consider using different sunscreens on different areas of your face. For example, use a physical sunscreen on drier areas and a chemical sunscreen on oilier parts.

Related: Essential Ingredients To Care For Dry Skin In Winter

Tips for Using Sunscreen

Now that you know the different types of sunscreens and what to consider when choosing one, here are some tips to ensure proper usage:

  1. Apply sunscreen generously and evenly – Experts recommend using at least one ounce (a shot glass worth) of sunscreen to cover the exposed areas of your body.
  2. Reapply often – Sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours or immediately after swimming, sweating, or toweling off.
  3. Don’t forget about other forms of protection – Wearing protective clothing, seeking shade, and avoiding peak sun hours (10 am to 4 pm) are also crucial in protecting your skin from UV rays.
  4. Check expiration dates – Sunscreen does have an expiration date, so make sure to check it before using it for maximum effectiveness.
  5. Consult a dermatologist – If you have any concerns about choosing a sunscreen or need guidance on which ingredients to avoid, consult a dermatologist for personalized recommendations.

Additional Tips

In addition to choosing the right sunscreen, there are other ways to protect your skin from harmful UV rays. Here are some additional tips:

  1. Wear sunglasses – Protect your eyes from UV rays by wearing sunglasses that block 99-100% of UVA and UVB rays.
  2. Ensure you protect your lips – from sun damage by using a lip balm that contains SPF.
  3. Check medication labels – Some medications can increase your sensitivity to the sun, so make sure to check the label and take extra precautions if necessary.
  4. Protect your scalp – If you have thinning hair or a bald spot, make sure to apply sunscreen or wear a hat to protect your scalp from sunburn.
  5. Avoid tanning beds – Tanning beds emit harmful UV rays and can increase your risk of skin cancer. Opt for self-tanners instead for a safe and healthy glow.

Remember, protecting your skin from the sun is not only important for preventing sunburns, but it also helps prevent premature aging and reduces your risk of skin cancer. By taking these extra precautions and using sunscreen regularly, you can enjoy the outdoors while keeping your skin healthy and beautiful.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Is sunscreen safe to use?

Yes, when used as directed, sunscreens are generally considered safe for daily use. However, some individuals may have allergies or sensitivities to certain ingredients, so it’s important to consult a dermatologist if you experience any adverse reactions.

Can I still get a tan while using sunscreen?

Yes, using sunscreen will not completely prevent tanning, but it can help protect against sun damage and burns.

Do I still need to use sunscreen on cloudy days?

Yes, UV rays can penetrate through clouds, so it’s important to wear sunscreen even on overcast days. Additionally, snow and water can reflect UV rays, making them even more powerful on cloudy days.

Can I use expired sunscreen?

It’s not recommended to use expired sunscreen as the effectiveness of the ingredients may have decreased, putting your skin at risk for sun damage. Always check expiration dates and replace old sunscreen with a new one.

Should I only use sunscreen in the summer?

No, it’s important to wear sunscreen year-round as UV rays can still be damaging, even on cloudy or cooler days. Additionally, winter activities such as skiing or snowboarding can increase your exposure to UV rays. So make sure to wear sunscreen whenever you plan on spending time outdoors.


Choosing the right sunscreen is essential for maintaining healthy skin. By understanding the different types of sunscreens, considering key factors, and following proper usage tips, you can find the best sunscreen for your skin type and ensure your protection against harmful UV rays. Remember to always prioritize protecting your skin, even on cloudy days, to maintain its health and radiance. Happy sun-safe skin shopping!

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