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The 9 Rules of Buying and Using Sunscreens

The 9 Rules of Buying and Using Sunscreens
By Pearlyn Tham 6 months ago 554 Views No comments

The 9 Rules of Buying and Using Sunscreens

Besides making it a habit to apply them every day, here are some other things that you should know about sun protection.

1) Wear sunscreen even on dark cloudy days

You may not see visible rays from the sun but invisible UVB rays still lurk behind dense cloud cover. Even on a gloomy day, 80 per cent of UVB rays can reach your skin.

2) Wear it even more when you are in a snowy place

There’s a reason why snowboarders and skiers use snow goggles and it’s not just to keep the snow out of their eyes. In snowy areas, you actually need more sun protection because the white powder reflects sunlight even more. Ditto for any place with a lot of water and sand.

3) When to choose a chemical sunscreen

Chemical formulas contain active ingredients like avobenzone, octinoxate and oxybenzone. To shield your skin from UV rays, chemical sunscreens absorb and convert them into heat which is released from your skin. Because of how they work, chemical sunscreens go onto skin more evenly, which makes them great if you want coverage that’s not so in your face, literally. But at the same time, they can also trigger skin problems like sensitivity and rosacea, especially if they have a higher SPF level.

4) When to choose a physical sunblock

On the contrary, a physical formula protects skin by sitting on it and reflecting sun rays. Physical sunscreens do their job with minerals like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. They are generally less clogging and so, are better for oily and acne-prone skin and also gentler on sensitive skin. The downside: physical sunblocks are easily rubbed off so you have to reapply them more often if your skin comes into contact with water or sweat.

5) Use at least SPF30

This is said to block out at least 97 per cent of UVB rays. That’s right – no sun protection product can or should claim to block out all of them.

6) Apply one shot glass worth of sunscreen

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, most of us apply 25 per cent to 50 per cent of the recommended amount of sunscreen. What you really need: as much sunscreen as it takes to fill up one shot glass.

7) Wait half an hour before you go outdoors

If you are using a chemical sunscreen, apply it at least 30 minutes before you head outside. The reason? It takes time to absorb into skin and work.

8) Use it within three years

So your favourite sunscreen was on sale and you stocked up on many bottles. The U.S Food and Drug Administration’s advice: trash any sunscreen that you haven’t used (or used up) within three years of your purchase. Any longer than this and the formulas would have become unstable and ineffective. Still not convinced? Open the bottle: if the product has turned watery or if it smells funky, you will be.

9) Apply anti-ageing skincare under sunscreen

Most sunscreens simply block out UV rays but some form of UVA light will still hit your skin, leading to signs of premature ageing like fine lines and skin roughness. This is why you should apply a serum or a face moisturiser under sunscreen. Or choose one that already has anti-ageing and antioxidant properties, like DrGL® Sun Protection Anti-Aging. It has gingko biloba leaf extract and amino acids to neutralise free radicals, improve blood circulation and stimulate collagen production.


Former women's magazine editor Pearlyn Tham bought her first foam cleanser and liquid foundation at the age of 13. More than 20 years later, she has since moved on to eye creams, liquid lipsticks and – her security blanket – sunscreens.