#ELLEBackToBasics: A Guide On How To Pick Your Sunscreen This Summer


The myths around sunscreen can elevate into consumer fatigue rather quickly. In the past, if you’ve fallen prey to marketing strategies pulling you in with their ‘for all skin types’ claim, you’re not alone. Picking the right sunscreen to suit your needs doesn’t have to be as stressful as it’s made out to be. Here’s our guide to simplify matters. 

Sunscreen Dictionary


SPF: Skin Protection Factor is a measure of how much solar energy in the form of UV radiation is required to cause sunburn on protected skin. As SPF increases, so does protection from the sun. 

UV: Ultraviolet rays are emitted by the sun, which are harmful. They are of two types, UVA and UVB. UVA is responsible for deeper penetration into the skin, causing wrinkles and fine lines and, more severely, melanoma. Whereas UVB primarily causes sunburn. 

IR: Infrared rays are also produced by the sun and go deeper into your skin than UV rays and accelerate ageing. 

Broad-spectrum: These are sunscreens that block both UVA and UVB from entering your skin. 

Types Of Sunscreen

Knowing the jargon isn’t enough! It’s essential to consume mineral or chemical sunscreens which filter out UV and protect you, based on your skin type, for full effect. 

1. Mineral Sunscreen

Acting as a physical block, mineral sunscreens sit on top of your face epidermis, scattering and deflecting UV rays from it. Thanks to their topical application, mineral base shields you from UVA and UVB. Made with active ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, they are also rich in antioxidants. 


A white-ish cast is visible on implementing as they layer up, which also means they can be rubbed off while perspiring or swimming. Thus, it’s recommended to frequently re-apply. 

Ideal for: Oily skin because mineral-rich base won’t clog your pores and prevent further acne or eczema. Opt for a broad spectrum mineral base with SPF30 or up. Sensitive Skin is often in a Catch 22 situation – with or without the sunscreen, your skin will flare-up. Your best option is to opt for mineral sunscreen with SPF 30-50 to minimise allergic reactions or inflammation. 


2. Chemical Sunscreen

Absorbing deep into your skin, chemical sunscreens convert UV rays into heat and release that heat from your face, which is why your face feels hot instantly after applying! Made with organic, carbon compounds they are invisible, lightweight and apt for everyday use. The bad news is that since UVA rays penetrate your skin, they will damage deeper layers despite the chemical base’s application.


Ideal for: Moisturising sunscreens, either chemical or mineral with hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid and ceramides, are apt for dry, flaky skin. While nourishing, these creams will repair already damaged tissue and prevent your skin from the sun’s rays. 

Quantity, Time and Re-application


As a result of its sacrosanct nature, it’s advised to apply 2mg of the cream per square centimetre of your skin. Simply put, you should apply a coin-sized dollop for your face alone, do the same for your neck and don’t forget to apply it on top of your ears and hands.  

By mandate, sunscreen should be applied if you’re spending more than five minutes outdoors. It should be reapplied every two hours for effectiveness. If you’re swimming or perspiring, it’s key to reapply post-cleaning your body. 



Since you’re all sunscreen savants now, answer us this – Should sunscreen be used every day sans weather consideration? If you answered YES, we’re proud of you! It’s a 365-day ritual without fail as UV rays aren’t taking a break, and neither should you. 

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