Summer Skincare 101: All you need to know about sunscreen and SPF.

The contents of a straw beach bag - a bikini, sunglasses, and sunscreen - strown across a white background.

Our skincare must always change to adapt to the seasons and weather changes. So, whether you’re enjoying a summer staycation or heading off to a tropical beach to escape winter, there’s one thing you can’t forget to pack in your bag: sunscreen. 

Sunscreen is an often-forgotten-about necessity in most people’s skincare routine. Possibly because it’s a topic that few people understand due to abbreviations and jargon used in skincare adverts.

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 At Beauty Base, we think everyone should understand just how important sunscreen is and how to better protect your skin from the sun. Our jargon-busting summer skincare guide tells you everything you need to know about sunscreen! 

A woman in a bikini on the beach

What is sunscreen?

Sunscreen is a topical cream that absorbs and reflects the sun’s ultraviolet rays, called UVA and UVB rays. Sometimes it’s called sun block or sun cream and is referred to as SPF. 

Sunscreen comes in various bottles, from bottles that allow you to squeeze the sunscreen into your hand to spray bottles where you spray the product onto your skin. The latter can be particularly handy if you don’t have any help applying sunscreen to areas like your back and shoulder blades.

We always recommend having a sunscreen that’s travel size to take out with you  and a bigger bottle for that initial first application at home. 

How does sunscreen work?

Natural sunlight contains ultraviolet (UV) photons. They are shorter in wavelength and higher in energy than visible light. Because they fall outside the visible spectrum, the human eye cannot see them. 

A woman with a white shirt and shorts on, carrying a hat on the beach during golden hour

UVA, UVB and broad spectrum sunscreen 

When shopping for sunscreen and aftersun, you’ll frequently see the abbreviations UVA and UVB alongside the term broad spectrum.

Broad spectrum protection is highly recommended as it can protect against both types of UV rays. This sunscreen type is called ‘multi-spectrum protection’ or ‘UVA/UVB protection. 

UVA and UVB have similar meanings but work differently. Ultraviolet A (UVA) are rays projected by the sun which can go through glass. They cause more damage to the skin and continue to wreak havoc even when you can’t feel your skin burning anymore. 

Ultraviolet B (UVB) rays are why we burn and look like boiled lobsters on the beach. UVB rays can’t go through material or glass but can damage your skin. This short-term damage results in sunburn but will cause more serious issues over a long period.

Why is sunscreen important?

Sunscreen is vital for protecting your skin against sun damage. Regularly applying sunscreen reduces your risk of developing some skin cancers caused by UVB rays by around 40 to 50%. It can also prevent signs of ageing that are created by UVA rays,

Sunscreen isn’t enough to protect your skin, though. Wearing clothing that covers your skin, hats and caps, and sitting in the shade instead of direct sunlight, are all crucial to having decent sun protection.

How often should I reapply sunscreen, and how long does it last?

A woman with corn rows wearing a pink off the shoulder Bardot top and sunglasses

You should apply sunscreen  30 minutes before going outdoors as it needs time to settle on your skin. Protection is only maintained roughly two hours after you’ve applied sunscreen. 

Even on an overcast day, there is still a risk of sun damage, and just one layer of sun cream isn’t enough. Sunscreen should be applied every 2 hours on all exposed skin, immediately after swimming and if you’re feeling particularly sweaty.  

How to apply sunscreen

Experts recommend one ounce of sunscreen for the entire body for each application – roughly one shot glass. You must rub it in thoroughly to ensure that everywhere is covered and avoid those annoying streaks! 

Don’t forget to apply sunscreen to spots behind your ears, the tops of your hands and feet, and on the back of your neck and knees. Remember that your clothing will also move and your skin may become exposed inadvertently. Due to this unpredictability, applying sunscreen fresh after a shower is best to ensure your whole body is covered. 

Do children need different sunscreen than adults?

A baby with sunscreen on his face on the beach

Contrary to popular belief, kids can use the same sunscreen as adults. Sunscreen is suitable for all ages, and children need more sun protection as their skin is much thinner. 

Remember that little ones require a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a higher SPF of 30 or 50. To protect your little one’s skin, you’d need to ideally use a sunblock that sits on the skin to block the rays, rather than a formula absorbed into the skin.

What is SPF, and does it matter?

Sun Protection Factor, known as SPF, measures how long the sun’s UVB rays may take to cause sunburn from the moment you apply your sunscreen. For example, by using sunscreen with SPF 50, your skin will take 50 times longer to burn and redden than if you haven’t used any cream.

A woman wearing a straw hat and a white bikini on the beach, poses with the ocean in the background

How do I choose the right SPF for my skin?

Using SPF 15 as part of your skincare routine will reduce your risk of having sun-damaged skin. Some foundations, BB and CC creams even have SPF 15 or 30 in their formulas.  At Beauty Base, we have a fantastic range of moisturisers and creams by Frezyderm that offers sun protection with SPF 30+ and 50.

If you spend most of your day indoors but have a few short moments in the sunshine, SPF 15 or higher is ideal.  If you are outdoors for a long period, we recommend SPF 30 or higher. In particular, if you’re swimming or exercising, it’s best to search for water-resistant sunscreen. 

Sunscreen and summer skincare at Beauty Base

You won’t be feeling the burn if you follow our sun-smart advice. Choosing the right SPF for your summer fun, regularly reapplying your sunscreen, keeping cool in the shade, and lightweight clothing covering your skin will ensure you won’t be rocking the boiled lobster look this season. 

Protect your skin this summer with plenty of sunscreen and moisturisers on-hand as part of your regular skincare routine. Shop our summer skincare essentials in our sun & tan collection online at Beauty Base. Try our skincare quiz to find your skin type and check our collections for different skin types. 

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