The sun chic rulebook: Here’s how you can achieve the ultimate SPF glam

Spoiler: There is no getting that viral glass skin without a sturdy sunscreen 

Our Correspondent July 11, 2024


As the country stews in a worsening spell of heat and humidity in peak summer fashion, it’s time to roll out the red carpet for your skin's most coveted guest star: sunscreen. In a world where every Instagram influencer is a self-proclaimed SPF savant, navigating the sunscreen aisle can feel like stepping into a labyrinth of lotions, sprays and serums. Fear not, for this guide will demystify the drama and bring you the VIP dos and don’ts of sun protection.

What was once commonly known as simply sunscreen bound to give you a white cast is a full-fledged game of numbers now. SPF, or Sun Protection Factor, is your secret weapon against UVB rays – those pesky villains that cause sunburn and play a starring role in skin cancer. 

Here’s the lowdown: SPF 15 blocks about 93% of UVB rays, SPF 30 clocks in at 97%, and SPF 50 holds the fort at 98%. But let’s be real – a higher SPF doesn’t mean you’re invincible. It means a bit more armour. Hence, reapplication is your BFF.

In the vast array of products available to ward off the sun, deciding between chemical versus mineral sunscreens is the first step. Think of them as two haute couture collections with distinct styles.
Chemical sunscreens are your sleek, absorbing divas. They contain ingredients like oxybenzone and avobenzone, which absorb UV radiation and transform it into heat. They’re lightweight, glide smoothly under makeup, and are perfect for those who love a glossy finish. However, sensitive skin? Tread carefully, as they can cause irritation for some.

Enter the ethereal angels – titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. These physical blockers in mineral sunscreens sit on the skin's surface, reflecting UV rays like a mirrored runway. They’re a godsend for sensitive skin and are less likely to clog pores. The downside? Mineral sunscreens can leave a whitish cast, but modern formulations are stepping up their game, providing a less ghostly glow.

Once the science is sorted, applying sunscreen becomes an art form – think of it as layering the perfect outfit. You need about a teaspoon for your face and a shot glass worth for your body. If visualising a teaspoon of SPF is tricky, the easiest to measure way is two finger lengths’ worth of sunscreen (or a quarter-size blob). Apply at least 15 minutes before you step out into the spotlight.

Remember: the spotlight doesn’t shine forever and neither does sunscreen. Reapply every two hours, the same amount, and more often if you’re frolicking in water or sweating up a storm. Keep a chic travel-sized sunscreen in your bag for those impromptu reapplications.

And when the curtain falls, taking off your sunscreen is as crucial as applying it. Opt for a double cleanse – start with an oil-based cleanser to dissolve the sunscreen, followed by a gentle foaming cleanser to whisk away any residue. This routine ensures your skin is clean, clear, and ready for its beauty sleep.

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