FQ picks: The best sunscreens around

The best sunscreens
With an ozone layer like ours, sun protection isn’t optional, it’s a must all-year round.

While we are educated on the effects UV radiation can have on our skin, skin cancer remains the most common cancer in our country, with more than 90 per cent of cases being attributed to excess sun exposure. It’s not always possible to stay in the shade, so schooling up on sunscreen is important. We talked to industry experts about the facts of sun damage and why protection is key.

UV-As and UV-Bs
Just because you’re sitting in a windowless office, it doesn’t mean you’re escaping UV damage. Some fluorescent lights and screens can emit UV rays, so it’s essential to wear sunscreen daily. UV-A rays are responsible for aging and can penetrate cloud cover at any time of the year, causing damage to collagen and skin cells that results in compromised skin. UV-B rays cause sunburn and skin cancer, but also stimulate vitamin D, which has positive effects on the body.

“Both UV-A and UV-B destroy vitamins A and C in our skin,” says Dr Catherine Stone of The Face Place. “Vitamin A is essential in protecting DNA as well as maintaining skin health and normalising pigmentation, while vitamin C is an antioxidant that’s essential in collagen production.”
A broad-spectrum sunscreen blocks both UV-A and UV-B rays, but a formula that contains antioxidants that protects against free radicals and environmental aging is even more beneficial.

SPF explained
SPF, or Sun Protection Factor, measures the level of protection against UV-B rays. The higher the SPF, the more UV radiation is filtered out and the greater the protection – an SPF 30 filters 96.7 per cent of UV radiation, while an SPF 50+ blocks 98 per cent.
Often neglected areas of the body include the backs of the hands, tops and soles of the feet, lips and ears. Hair also benefits from products with UV filters both for protecting the hair against damage and minimising colour fade.

Chemical vs physical blockers
Chemical sunscreens penetrate the skin and absorb UV rays like a sponge. Physical sunscreens provide a physical block using the naturally derived broad-spectrum blocking agents of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Physical blocks work as soon as they are applied to the skin, while chemical formulas become effective around 20 minutes after application. Physical sunscreens can be less irritating than chemical blocks and Dr
Stone says there is a concern that some ingredients in chemical sunscreens may break down to create free-radicals that damage more than they protect. Whichever your preference, make sure your cover offers broad-spectrum protection and reapply every two hours, or more frequently if you’re swimming or sweating.

Our picks: 1. For sensitive skin: Kiehl’s Ultra Light Daily UV Defense SPF 50, $62. 2. For even skin tone: Shiseido Future Solution LX Universal Defense SPF 50+, $120. 3. For a physical block: Ultraceuticals Ultra UV Protection Daily Shield SPF 50+, $75. 4. For everyday protection: Doctor Babor Ultimate Protecting Balm SPF 50, $102. 5. For on-the-go: CosMedix Reflect Broad Spectrum SPF 15 Sunscreen, $94.30. 6. For the beach: Aspect Envirostat Dry Touch Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50, $29.90. 7. For an antioxidant boost: Nimue Sun-C SPF 40, $29.95. 8. For hydration: Murad Essential-C Sun Balm SPF 35, $54. 9. For makeup that lasts: Coola SPF 30 Makeup Setting Spray, $59. 10. For hair: Label.m Protein Spray, $38. 11. For lips: Environ Rad Lips, $21. 12. For exercise: Neutrogena CoolDry Sport Sunscreen Spray SPF 70, $24.99. 13. For calming sunburn: Dr Hauschka After Sun, $39.

Photography: Michael James Rooke
Stylist: Marcel Gull