Which is best Sunscreen or suncream- spf 15 or spf 30? (Dermatocare's beauty tips)

Written By Dr Surbhi, MD Skin

Last updated: 19/09/18

"Doctor, should I use SPF 15 or SPF 30? Which is the best suncream? What is the correct method of applying sunscreen? How often should I repeat it? Is regular use of sunscreen harmful?"

Choosing the right sunscreen and the right method of application is paramount for obtaining desired SPF as labelled on sunscreen. Read further to find answers to the above questions and protect your skin from the sun as recommended by dermatologists.

 

RELATED: Dermatocare Reviews on Top Sunscreens


Should I use SPF 15 or SPF 30?

Sun protection factor (SPF) is the ability of a sunscreen to delay visible sun damage caused by UVB.  Thus, SPF 30 means you can stay in sun 30 times longer without visible sun damage. SPF only gauges the ability of sunscreens to protect against UVB rays and not UVA rays which are responsible for skin ageing and dark patches.

SPF of 15 blocks 93% of UVB rays while SPF 45 sunscreen blocks additional 5% of UVB rays. However, SPF is calculated at 2mg/cm2 concentration of sunscreen and studies show that we apply so sparingly, that only one-third of SPF is achieved. This is the reason, why dermatologist sometimes recommends sunscreens with higher SPF.

TAKEAWAY MESSAGE: Always apply moisturiser/foundation with at least SPF of 15 in indoors and top up with higher SPF of 30+ at least 30 minutes before stepping out in the bright sun. SPF 15 sunscreens are cosmetically elegant because they are less oily (higher the SPF stickier is sunscreen) and has fewer chances of causing acne.

 

Which is the best sunscreen for my skin?

Today cosmetic shelf is loaded with hundreds of sunscreen, the key points that you should look for, before choosing a sunscreen from the cosmetic counter are:  

  • Look at the label for word “broad-spectrum” which means that sunscreen would provide protection from both UVA and UVB rays.
  • Check the numerical value of Sun Protection Factor(SPF). SPF of 15 is enough indoors while SPF of at least 30 is needed when you step out. However, if you have fair skin, and you step out in the bright sun often, then better go for higher SPF of 50+ because routinely we apply only one-third of recommended amount of sunscreen.
  • Water-resistant brands should be preferred if you sweat a lot or for using sunscreen before going in pool or sea.

 

Which is the best sunscreen for oily skin?

Oily skin types should prefer a spray, gel or thin lotion-based sunscreens to avoid the sticky look. We researched the ingredients list of many sunscreens and found out that most of the sunscreens are oily. Here are few suggestions of sunscreen that are less greasy: Bioderma Photoderm Akn Mat Fluid and Neutrogena Pure & Free Liquid Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 50.

 

Which is the best sunscreen for dry skin?

Dry skin types can use cream-based brands. Check out this list of sunscreen best suited for dry skin.

 

Which is the best sunscreen for sensitive skin?

Look for the word “Physical sunscreen” or “Hypoallergenic” if you have sensitive skin or if you experience redness and irritation with regular brands. Checkout this list of physical sunscreen that is unlikely to cause reactions in sensitive skin.

 

Which sunscreen does not feel hot or sweaty?

If you feel hot and sweaty with regular brands of sunscreens, prefer zinc or titanium based physical sunscreen that blocks UV rays; as opposed to chemical sunscreens that convert UV rays into heat. Check out this list of physical sunscreen.

 

How do I know my sunscreen protects against UVA rays also?

Look for following indicators on the label of sunscreen to assure the UVA coverage:

  • The word “broad spectrum” on sunscreen label is a simple indicator of UVA and UVB coverage.
  • PA+++ sign indicate good UVA coverage.
  • Boot star rating for UVA protection is depicted in the form of stars. Three or more stars is a good buy.
  • You can also scan for the ingredients that provide UVA protection like zinc oxide, titanium oxide, avobenzone, Mexoryl etc.

 

What is the correct method of applying sunscreen?

The correct method of applying sunscreen is as follows:

  • Shake the bottle before use.
  • Apply sunscreen at least 15- 30 minutes before leaving out in the sun.
  • Follow dot method; apply dots of sunscreen on face and massage them thoroughly to form a uniform coat.
  • Reapply after sweating, swimming, rubbing or washing your face.
  • Apply on all exposed parts like face, neck and arms for better results. Around half a teaspoon or 3 ml of sunscreen is required to cover face and neck for adequate protection.
  • Car window glasses do not block UVA rays, so apply sunscreen before you go for a drive.
  • Clouds do not block UVA rays, so you should apply sunscreens even on a cloudy or rainy day.
  • Do apply sunscreen on lips, under eye and ears. However, most sunscreens might irritate eyes; be extra careful when you apply them near your eyes.
  • Use a lip balm with SPF to protect your lips from Uv rays, since lips lack protective melanin and the skin here is thin too. 

 

Should I apply sunscreen to my kids?

Only purely physical sunscreens that contain zinc or titanium oxide can be used in children especially before outdoor activities. Sun-safe behaviour and use of sunscreen at an early age will not only prevent sunburn and rashes but also delay skin ageing. Please note that use of sunscreen is contraindicated below 6 months of age.

 

Is regular use of sunscreen harmful?

There are lots of “ifs and buts” when it comes to the regular use of sunscreens:

  • Regular use of sunscreens might reduce vitamin D levels especially if dietary intake is not adequate. We suggest you protect your face with sunscreen regularly but expose rest of body to the sun for few minutes daily.
  • Sunscreen ingredients might get absorbed into the blood, thus altering hormones level; however, absorption occurs only if you eat without washing sunscreen from your hands. So, always wash your hands before eating, this will not only remove the germs but also chemicals from skin care products.
  • Sunscreens might increase chances of sunburn, yes but only in those who use sunscreens occasionally rather than a routine, that too in fair skin.

Thus, “If you want to keep your teeth, use brush daily and if you want to keep your skin, use sunscreen daily.”


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