Everything You Need to Know About Sunscreens

July 12, 2019

Because I tend to get a lot of questions revolving around the topic of sunscreens, I thought it may be helpful to make a video, covering the main concerns many people tend to have in regards to sun care products.

In my video, I did go more in depth on each point/myth about sunscreen/concern, so definitely check that out if you need further clarification on any bullet points from this post. But in this post, I just wanted to 1) highlight some of the main concerns/questions people tend of have, 2) list some of the general "pros" and "cons" of mineral and chemical sunscreens, and 3) give you guys some great sunscreen options (ALL of which are indeed 100% fragrance-free!).

So just keep on scrolling if you care to know a little more about sunscreen! :)


- What is SPF?
Sun Protection Factor: measures how long one can be protected from UVB rays 

- What is PA+, PA++, PA+++, PA++++? (see chart)
PA+ rating system measures how effective a sunscreen may be at protecting against UVA rays

- What does Broad Spectrum mean?
Your sunscreen protects you from both UVA & UVB rays

- What is nano Zinc Oxide & nano Titanium Dioxide?
Nanoparticles in sunscreen mainly serve an aesthetic purpose in reducing the appearance of a "white cast"

- How do I find a sunscreen that does not leave a white cast on my skin?
Nowadays, many sunscreens have been formulated to have a more aesthetically pleasing look & feel. Mineral sunscreens tend to always have somewhat of a cast when applied (especially on deeper skin), while many chemical sunscreens often do not have this problem. But if possible, always try to swatch a sunscreen on your skin before purchasing to see how it blends compared to your skin tone!

- Why does sunscreen break me out?
There could be a multitude of reasons: Are you using a well-formulated sunscreen? Are you allergic to any filters, whether mineral of chemical? Does your sunscreen contain fragrance or other known irritants? Are you using a formulation that is suitable for your skin type?


- a.k.a "Physical Sunscreen" form a barrier that protect the skin by reflecting UV rays
- Filters: Zinc Oxide & Titanium Dioxide

- both filters (zinc + titanium) offer high UVA/UVB protection
- less likely to cause irritation for most skin types

- "Tin Man" effect to the skin (most of the time)
- can be chalky & bunch up (especially under makeup)
- sweats off easily
- usually a thicker, sometimes stickier consistency
- can be difficult to spread evenly
- necessary to apply adequate amount to avoid "gaps"


- Absorbed into top layer to skin & protect skin by absorbing UV rays
- Made up of carbon-based compounds (organic compounds)
- Some filters (varies based on region): 
Octyl Triazone
Diethylamino Hydroxy-Benzoyl Hexyl Benzoate
Methylene Bis-Benzotriazolyl Tetramethylbutylphenol
Butyl Methoxy Dibenzoyl Methane
Drometrizole Trisiloxane

- usually no "white cast"
- can be much thinner and more fast absorbing than mineral sunscreens
- less risk of having "gaps" during application
- spreads easily
- vast number of filters (in case of an allergy to mineral sunscreen filters)
- usually sweat-resistant/waterproof

- chemical reaction when absorbing UV rays = heat, which can potentially exacerbate hyperpigmentation & flushing of the skin
- Oxybenzone & Octinoxate banned in Hawaii for posing risk to coral reefs
- higher chance of causing irritation in sensitive skin types

PA+ = Some UVA protection
PA++ = Moderate UVA protection
PA+++ = High UVA protection
PA++++ = Extremely High UVA protection


- any Elta MD sunscreen
$25 - $50
- Avène Mineral Sunscreen Fluid SPF 50+
- Avène Tinted Mineral Sunscreen Fluid SPF 50+
- SkinCeuticals Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF 50
- La Roche-Posay Anthelios Ultra-Light Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50
- La Roche-Posay Anthelios Ultra-Light Tinted Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50
- Colorescience Sunforgettable® Total Protection™ Face Shield SPF 50 (PA+++)
- SkinCeuticals Sheer Physical UV Defense SPF 50
- SkinMedica Essential Defense Mineral Shield™ Broad-Spectrum SPF 35
- CoTZ FACE Prime & Protect Tinted SPF 40
- Supergoop!® Smooth and Poreless 100% Mineral Matte Screen SPF 40
- MDSolarSciences Mineral Tinted Creme SPF 30 Broad Spectrum UVA-UVB Sunscreen
- MDSolarSciences Mineral Creme SPF 50 Broad Spectrum UVA-UVB
- Etude House SoonJung Mild Defense Sun Cream SPF 49 PA++
- CeraVe Hydrating Sunscreen Face Lotion BROAD SPECTRUM SPF 50
- CeraVe Hydrating Sunscreen Body Lotion BROAD SPECTRUM SPF 30
- CeraVe Hydrating Sunscreen Body Lotion BROAD SPECTRUM SPF 50
- CeraVe Hydrating Sunscreen Face Lotion BROAD SPECTRUM SPF 30
- VMV Hypoallergenics Armada Baby SPF 50+
- Paula's ChoiceCALM Redness Relief SPF 30 - Normal to Oily


- Supergoop!® Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40
- Pharmaceutical Specialties Vanicream Sunscreen Sport SPF 35 (combo)
- Epionce Ultra Shield Lotion SPF 50 (combo)
- Sun Bum Original Sunscreen Face Lotion - SPF 50
- PCA Skin Weightless Protection Broad Spectrum SPF 45 (combo)
- PCA Skin Hydrator Plus Broad Spectrum SPF 30 (combo)
- PCA Skin Active Broad Spectrum SPF 45 (combo)
- PCA Skin Protecting Hydrator Broad Spectrum SPF 30 (combo)
- La Roche-Posay Anthelios Ultra-Light Sunscreen Fluid SPF 60 (if you care to have an SPF higher than 50)
- La Roche-Posay Anthelios 60 Sport Activewear Sunscreen Lotion SPF 60 (if you care to have an SPF higher than 50)
- La Roche-Posay Anthelios Melt-In Sunscreen Milk SPF 60 (if you care to have an SPF higher than 50)
- La Roche-Posay Anthelios 60 Cooling Water-Lotion Sunscreen (if you care to have an SPF higher than 50)
- SkinCeuticals Ultimate UV Defense SPF 30 (combo)
- SkinCeuticals Light Moisture UV Defense SPF 50
- SkinMedica Essential Defense Everyday Clear™ Broad-Spectrum SPF 47 (combo)
- CeraVe AM Facial Moisturizing Lotion with Sunscreen BROAD SPECTRUM SPF 30 (combo)
- Paula's Choice Extra Care Non-Greasy Sunscreen SPF 50


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