But are all sunblocks really created equal? Is an SPF 100 really better than an SPF 30? What does SPF even mean? What are nano particles and if they are nano then are they leaching into my skin and slowly poisoning me? And if so then am I really better off for wearing sunblock at all?
So many questions, but if like me, you have an over analytical mind that tends to obsess over things, then you’ve probably wondered about these things too.
Firstly SPF, which stands for Sun Protection Factor is the measure of how long a particular sunblock with protect you for when multiplied by your personal burn time. So for example if you are wearing SPF 30 sunblock and your normal burn time is 10 minutes then you would have a 300 minute window of sun protection.
However don’t be fooled by the big numbers. SPF 100 is not twice the protection of SPF 50. I know, weird huh. This is because SPF itself is the measure of UVB protection not necessarily UVA protection. Both UV rays are harmful and can cause skin to burn but as the SPF goes up so does the UVB protection but not necessarily the UVA protection. That’s why you may find that you still manage to burn when you apply SPF 100 but not when you apply SPF 30. Your best bet is to stick to an SPF no higher than 50 and apply it more frequently.
As for sunblock nano particles leaching into your skin, apparently the risks are minor. However using an SPF sunblock higher than 50 puts you at more risk of toxic chemical absorption. The higher the SPF the higher the concentrations of sun filtering chemicals, which can also lead to allergic reactions and other issues. So once again stick to a lower SPF.
If you live south of Taupo you are probably thinking, ‘who cares about sunblock? It’s winter! You don’t need to wear sunblock in winter!’ right? Wrong! Sun damage is a very gradual process. If you go all autumn and winter without wearing sunblock for your daily 1 hour in the sun, you are effectively doing as much damage as one light burn on your face in summer. Sun damage is not pretty, it can cause all kinds of signs of ageing, such as: reckles, age spots, spider veins on the face, rough and leathery skin, fine wrinkles that disappear when stretched, loose skin, a blotchy complexion, and something called actinic keratosis
But the real question is: What sunblock is best? Is there a sunblock that can be used on your face without causing irritation, greasiness or dreaded sunblock white-face? I have reviewed four of my fave sunblocks on the market….
Clinique Super City Block SPF 40
This is a reliable facial sunblock with a tinted base. It sits well under make-up but I noticed it seemed to make my mineral make-up look a bit cakey. It worked better under liquid foundation. I did notice that it made my skin sweat a little as soon as I applied it. Scent wise it is great. It did not over power my delicate nose at all. Price wise it is not cheap - a tube of this stuff will set you back around NZ$45 and considering you need a good amount for decent coverage the 40gm tube doesn’t last long.
Ingredients: Active: Zinc Oxide (9.6%), Octinoxate (7.5%), Titanium Dioxide (7.3%), Octisalate (2%), Other: Water Purified, Trioctyldodecyl Citrate, Butylene Glycol, Dimethicone, Octyldodecyl Neopentanoate, Steareth-2, Silica, Rosa Roxburghii Fruit Extract, Citrus Unshiu Peel Extract, Porphyra Yezoensis (Algae) Extract, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Saccharomyces Lysate Extract, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract, Betula Alba (Birch) Bark Extract, Hordeum Vulgare (Barley) Extract, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seedcake, Gentiana Lutea (Gentian) Root Extract, Yeast Extract, Sodium RNA, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Pantethine, Squalane, Polyglyceryl-6 Polyricinoleate, Propylene Glycol Dicaprate, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria), Hexylene Glycol, PEG/PPG-18/18 Dimethicone, Caprylyl Glycol, Barium Sulfate, Polyethylene, Magnesium Aluminum Silicate, Lecithin, Ceteth-2, PEG-40 Stearate, Sodium Stearate, Steareth-20, Sorbitan Tristearate, Isopropyl Titanium Triisostearate, Xanthan Gum, Stearic Acid, Aluminum Hydroxide, Citric Acid, Disodium EDTA, BHT, Phenoxyethanol, Mica, Iron Oxides, Titanium Dioxide
Osmosis Shade SPF 30 Sunblock moisturiser
This Osmosis sunblock/daily moisturiser has a delicious coconutty smell, but if like me you are sensitive to smells it can be a bit overwhelming sometimes. Especially during that wonderful time of the month! I found this sunblock to be quite whitening on application, but as I always add some foundation over the top this wasn’t an issue. It also sat really well under make-up making it good for use as a primer. It is quite a thick product so a little goes a long way.
Aloe Vera Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Fractionated Coconut Oil, Titanium Dioxide, Cetearyl (and) Sorbitan Olivate, Zinc Oxide, Squalane, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Organic Rosa Canina (Rose Hips) Fruit Oil, Whey Protein (Milk Peptides Complex), Linoleic Acid, Green Tea Extract, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Oil, Calendula Officinalis Flower, Arnica Montana (Flower) Extract, Lycium Barbarum (Goji Berry) Fruit Extract, Vaccinium Macrocarpon (Cranberry) Seed Oil, Passiflora Edulis Seed (Passion Fruit) Oil, Punica Granatum (Pomegranate) Fruit Oil, Vitamin E Tocopherol, HydroxyEthyl Cellosize, Caprylic Acid (and) Lauric Acid (and) Propanediol (and Potassium Sorbate) and Natural Fragrance (Coconut, Grapefruit and Vanilla)
Invisible Zinc – SPF 30 for face and body
This sunblock is great. It is made from just zinc so therefore less likely to cause irritation like so many others can. It has no obvious odour at all! It is very thick when it goes on and does leave your skin looking white but if you rub it in well it is not that obvious and a little goes a long way. It does however make my face sweat quite badly but you can’t have everything can you?
Active: Zinc Oxide (22%) Other: Phenoxyethanol, Diazolidinyl Urea, Aloe Vera Juice, Disodium EDTA, Isopropyl Myristate, Magnesium Sulphate, Propylene Glycol, Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Purified Water, Triacontanyl PVP, Cyclomethicone, Isostearyl Neopentanoate, Isohexadecane, Isopropyl Lanolate, PEG-30 Dipolyhydroxystearate, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate
Active High Performance Sunscreen
RRP $20 per pot
This is not your usual sunscreen! This stuff is different. It is thin and light weight and does not make you sweat at all! It requires only one application – not every two hours like all the others – and it offers four hours of water protection! Wow! So how does this stuff work? What’s the secret? It is made in NZ using ground breaking water free technology without the use of added surfactants which tend to cause irritation in children or adults with sensitive skin. It is also paraben free, fragrance free and contains no nano particles! And as you need only a small about (greasiness is a sign you've used too much) one pottle goes a long way! The only downside? While there is no odour on initial application, I did notice an odd scent when I applied it to my face – but I am a psycho about smells and the odour did disappear once I applied make-up over the top and my make-up did not sweat off! This sunblock is amazing!
Ingredients: Cosmagel (TM), Octyl Cinnamate, Avobenzone, Octyl Triazone, Solastay S1, Octocrylene, benzotriazole