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Which Sunscreen Is Best for My Skin?

Everyone needs sun protection, but the perfect formula should cater to your complexion. Whether your skin is dry, oily, sensitive or acne-prone, here’s what to look for in a winning SPF.

The road to luminous, youthful skin starts with knowing your skin type and customizing the products you use—and that includes sun protection! A daily essential for all skin types, sunscreen protects against free radical damage, reduces early signs of aging and prevents skin cancer. Whether you need a sunscreen for acne-prone skin, oily skin or dry skin or you have a sensitive complexion, your perfect sun protection fit awaits.

How to Choose the Best Sunscreen

While each sunscreen formula offers something unique, there are a few fundamental elements that any highly effective product in the running for the best sunscreen for the skin should have. Here’s what to look for:

The job of a sunscreen is to help protect your skin from ultraviolet (UV) radiation exposure, which includes UVA and UVB. UVA rays, which can penetrate deeper into the skin, contribute to premature aging, such as fine lines and wrinkles. And UVB rays, which disrupt the upper layers, are responsible for sunburns and are more influential in the development of skin cancer. It’s important to select a sunscreen that offers “broad-spectrum protection”—which means it shields skin from both types of UV rays.

The SPF number is also significant. SPF stands for “sun protection factor,” which indicates how much longer it would take for your skin to burn when you’re using the product compared to if you’re not using it. The Canadian Dermatology Association recommends using a minimum of SPF 30. However, many dermatologists suggest choosing a higher number to increase protection and offset the fact that the average person is likely not applying an adequate amount of product to start with. Using a higher SPF isn’t a free pass to prolonged sun exposure, but when combined with other preventive measures, such as reapplying every two hours, staying in the shade and wearing a wide-brimmed hat and/or sun protective clothing, it can be essential part of your sun-smart game plan.

In terms of active sunscreen ingredients, there are two types available: physical and chemical. Physical sunscreens, also referred to as mineral, use zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. These ingredients work by sitting on the surface of the skin, reflecting and scattering UV rays, like a mirror. Chemical sunscreens use ingredients that absorb UV rays and convert them within the body into non-damaging light or heat. Mineral formulas are often recommended by dermatologists for anyone with a reactive or inflammatory skin condition, such as eczema.

Finally, it’s also important to note the expiry date of a sunscreen, which you’ll find on the bottom or back of the bottle. Sunscreen doesn’t last forever, and any formula past its prime will not be effective and should be tossed. Proper storage also counts. It’s best to keep your SPF product in a cool, dark place and reduce exposure to intense heat or direct light.

What Is the Best Sunscreen for Your Skin Type?

The key words to consider are “best” and “your.” The best everyday sunscreen for the face is the one you’ll want to wear daily. If you’ve ever been the victim of a sunburn on an overcast day, then you already know that UV rays are very sneaky. They don’t take any days off and can reach skin in all seasons, through any weather conditions and even when you’re indoors. For the most part, the damage they inflict is cumulative and takes place over the span of many years. As a preventive act, your best bet is 24/7 sun protection. Applying your SPF every day should come as naturally as brushing your teeth every morning.

That brings us to the “your” part of the equation. Beyond providing UV protection, the best sunscreen for your skin type should be formulated to meet the needs of your skin. Whether you’ve got dry skin that needs more hydration or acne-prone skin that could use oil-absorbing help, the goal is to balance your complexion through a suitable texture blended with key ingredients that deliver everything you need and nothing more. Here’s how to find an SPF that’s just right.

Sunscreen for Oily Skin

Thick or greasy creams need not apply. The best sunscreen for oily skin is a lightweight texture that’s also non-comedogenic (meaning it won’t clog pores). SkinCeuticals Physical Matte UV Defense Sunscreen SPF 50 is a weightless mousse that’s all that, with added perks. The 100% mineral sunscreen contains aerated silica, which absorbs up to 15 times its weight in oil and maintains a matte finish even in hot, humid conditions. Blended with translucent colour spheres, the universal tint works for most skin tones while enhancing a complexion and boosting radiance. Plus, it dries to a powdery finish, making it the best sunscreen for the face under makeup.

Sunscreen for Dry Skin

A nourishing formula is the best sunscreen for dry skin. Sun exposure can compromise the skin’s barrier, which can alter its ability to retain moisture. This drying effect can impact all skin types, but if your skin is naturally parched, then you’re likely to feel (and see) the effects more intensely. SkinCeuticals Physical Fusion UV Defense Sunscreen SPF 50 combines barrier repair with broad-spectrum protection. A tinted blend of titanium dioxide and zinc oxide create a UV shield, while artemia salina (a plankton extract) provides increased photoprotection by stimulating skin’s defences and resistance to UV and heat stress. Suitable for post-procedure, sensitive and very dry skin, the comforting texture is also paraben- and fragrance-free.

Sunscreen for Acne-Prone Skin

Are breakouts your primary concern? Choose a sunscreen for acne-prone skin that understands the assignment. Formulated to be non-comedogenic and non-acnegenic, SkinCeuticals Physical Matte UV Defense Sunscreen SPF 50 has an oil-absorbing base that helps to smooth skin’s texture and minimize the look of pores. The weightless mousse also dries to a long-lasting matte finish. If you’re dealing with post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation caused by breakouts, you’ll want to be extra diligent about your daily SPF. Unprotected sun exposure can encourage dark spots to intensify, making them more challenging to fade.

Sunscreen for Sensitive Skin

Considered to be less irritating to skin than chemical sunscreens, a 100% mineral formula has long been the derm-approved choice when it comes to sunscreen for sensitive skin.
A silky fluid that absorbs effortlessly to a matte finish, SkinCeuticals Sheer Physical UV Defense Sunscreen SPF 50 elevates the daily ritual of sun protection. It contains ultra-fine zinc oxide that spreads evenly and without leaving a white cast to offer the best sunscreen for sun-sensitive skin. Use it with SkinCeuticals Physical Eye UV Defense SPF 50, a non-migrating mineral formula that helps protect the eye area from sun damage. Blended with ceramides, the sheer tinted formula nourishes and brightens and is made to be used all around the delicate eye area—even on the lids.

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