Why is sunscreen—no matter what form—important?
Short answer? Sunscreen protects the skin from sun damage and reduces the risk of skin cancer. Dr. Alexis Parcells, board-certified plastic surgeon and founder of Sunnie Skincare says that good sun protection comes from proper application. “A proper application will prevent burns. The key here is compliance. Find a formula that works for you, and stick to it. Getting into the habit of applying daily will keep skin protected and hydrated,” she explains.
What’s the difference between mineral, physical, and chemical sunscreen?
“Mineral or physical sunscreen consists of active ingredients that form a physical barrier against the sun’s rays. This blocks dangerous UV rays from coming into your skin, altering your DNA, and creating permanent damage to your skin. Zinc oxide or titanium dioxide formulas were once thick and goopy, but more modern formulas [like spray sunscreens] are easier to apply and tolerate makeup application smoothly,” she explains.
Chemical sunscreens on the other hand are formulated with active ingredients. “These active ingredients absorb sun rays and release them as heat through the skin. Common chemical sunscreen compounds include oxybenzone, and avobenzone These tend to be lighter and have more of a sheer effect. They are your common spray sunscreens,” she adds.
How often should spray sunscreen be applied?
Sunscreen should be applied at leasy every two hours, if possible. Dr. Parcells says to also consider your skin tone to determine how often you should apply sunscreen. “Your skin’s tone and photosensitivity often determine how long SPF will be effective against UV rays that eventually cause skin damage. As a general rule, SPF 35+ should be applied first thing in the morning,” she explains. “When exposed to the sun for more than 2 hours, consider a higher SPF and frequent reapplication.”
It’s also important to note the expiration date of your sunscreen so it can be as effective as possible. “If your sunscreen has been left out in the sun, smells, or appears chalky, throw it out.”
Is it safe enough to spray over makeup?
“SPF in make-up is not sufficient alone—think of it as a bonus to your SPF base layer. When you first wake up, cleanse your face, apply SPF moisturizer, and then your makeup. And yes, spraying SPF over makeup as a final step can be effective, as long as you are not frequently sweating it off,” she says.