Natural or Chemical SPF? How is 30 different to 50? And what’s physical, what’s mineral?
There’s a lot said about sunscreen, and even more confusion on the terminology. Natural SPF, chemical, zinc-y, physical, greasy, white cast, thick, acne-causing, scented, fragrance-free, organic… Shopping for a sunscreen that will protect your skin shouldn’t have to be like studying for an exam.
We’ve simplified our SPF range into what we believe is the best of the best. This is your uncomplicated, consciously curated guide to effective sun protection.
We love showcasing our international brands from all over the world, but when it comes to protection from extreme UV and life in a sunburnt country – Aussies are, well, the self-appointed experts.
Our regulations are renowned worldwide for their strict testing and high standards. But what does that all really mean for you?
Sunscreens that have been regulated in Australia feature a number on the packaging – it looks something like this: AUSTL000000
It’s a registration number from the TGA and is the first sign your SPF is regulated, i.e it’s been through all the testing to keep your skin in good nik when exposed to the sun. An AUST number means the sunscreen is included on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG). So check those numbers like it’s the winning ticket.
How much SPF should I apply?
For this one, we referred to the TGA: “In general, an adult needs to apply about 40ml of sunscreen to properly cover their body.” If you’re doing activities like swimming, reapplying regularly is vital to adequate protection.
We Are Feel Good Inc explain, “for each application you should use a minimum of 5mL for your face, neck, each leg & arm, and front & back torso. To work properly a sunscreen needs to spread evenly and settle onto the skin (it is recommended that sunscreen be applied at least 20 minutes before sun exposure). Anything that might disrupt this will make the protection less effective, such as uneven application or not allowing time to settle on the skin before swimming etc.”
What does SPF and that number actually mean?
SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor. The SPF number refers to an indication of how long it will take for a person’s skin to be affected by sun exposure. The TGA state, “the higher the number, the stronger the protection.” Put simply, sunscreen with an SPF of 15 should prevent your skin from exposure for approximately 15 times longer than without sun protection. We Are Feel Good Inc. explain, “if you would start to burn in 10 minutes without sunscreen, with correct application of an SPF15 sunscreen will prevent burning for approximately 150 minutes.”
“A sunscreen with an SPF of 15 protects against about 93% of UVB rays, one with an SPF of 30 protects against 97% of rays and a sunscreen with an SPF 50 blocks 98% of UVB rays.” The Cancer Council Australia recommends using any sunscreen that is labeled broad spectrum and SPF30 or above.
Physical or Chemical?
This is where it can get confusing. But it needn’t be!
A physical (sometimes referred to as mineral, or natural) sunscreen works by reflecting UV rays. Think of it like creating a physical barrier between the sun and your skin. Physical sunscreens most often contain zinc oxide / titanium dioxide as their UV filter.
A physical sunscreen can be a good option for acne-prone skin, as they’re thought to be less likely to be pore clogging. The trade-off? They can also be thicker in texture. Some physical sunscreens, traditionally, left a white cast on the skin but we’ve found two gorgeous Australian brands that measure up to our very high standards. One even created customisable bronzing drops to tackle this very issue – discover Mother Of Pearl.
Now what about a chemical sunscreen? First you have to consider, what is a chemical? While even ‘natural’ ingredients are considered chemicals (yes, really), let’s classify our chemical sunscreens as using other ingredients than the abovementioned to act as their UV filter. Chemical sunscreens are often preferred by those wanting a lightweight texture. They are generally easily spread over the skin and can be a thinner texture that sits well with makeup. However, there may be slightly more potential for irritation for some people.
Our chemical sunscreens of choice by We Are Feel Good Inc. are paraben and PABA free which helps reduce the likelihood of skin irritations. We Are Feel Good Inc. also make conscious ingredient choices when it comes to protecting our vulnerable reef systems, and avoiding ingredients considered potentially harmful to people. They are Oxybenzone and Octinoxate Free.
So, which one is better?
We didn’t say we had all the answers. As they say, the best sunscreen is the one that you wear. That might mean selecting your regulated SPF based on texture, absorbency, ingredients, skin sensitivity, fragrance, and other factors. When choosing your SPF, there is one thing that’s paramount…
A sunscreen classified as Broad Spectrum offers protection from both UVA and UVA rays. Both are contributing factors to skin damage and skin cancer. A simplified way of remembering it is A=aging and B=burning…and you want protection against both the aging effects of sun damage, and burning from the sun.
UVA rays penetrate deep into the skin’s dermis which is the thickest layer of the skin. Unprotected exposure can lead to premature aging, wrinkling, loss of skin elasticity and cancer.
UVB rays usually burn the outer top layer of the skin and exposure is a key factor in the cause of skin cancer. All of the sunscreens at Andersen Beauty are Broad Spectrum.
Choosing the right sunscreen for your skin isn’t the only way you can protect yourself. Reapplying regularly is essential, especially after swimming and excessive sweating. Avoid damage to the eyes by wearing protective eyewear, and seek shade during times of day when UV is strong. Remember to also wear protective clothing when exposed to the sun. Now, let’s take a look at some of our recommended sunscreens…
Aptly named, MOTHER SPF was created by Tandia Walsh after her mother’s diagnosis with cancer. Helping her mother switch to better ingredients during treatment, Tandia discovered how some ingredients in sunscreens might affect health and the environment. Working with an expert cosmetic scientist, MOTHER SPF was brought to life in 2017 becoming an industry favourite.
We love this physical sunscreen not only because of the bright yellow tube, and the efforts MOTHER SPF has gone to in achieving their sustainability goals, or because of how nourishing it feels on the skin. We also love it because it’s broad spectrum, SPF30 and uses only mineral filters (zinc oxide) which are deemed to be 100% reef safe. You can also mix it with MOTHERSPF Mother Of Pearl for bronzed, luminous skin.
The Kind Sunscreen
Founded by Emma Corrie following years of experience in the health and wellness space, Emma was inspired to create The Kind Sunscreen by her own experience with her young boy’s sensitive skin – and life in sunny Queensland. Emma set out to create a physical sunscreen that was kind to all.
We love The Kind Sunscreen of course because it’s broad spectrum and SPF30, but it truly is kind to all – young skins, sensitive skins, older skins, reefs and the environment. Not only do we think that little white logo on the tube is smiling at us, it’s available in two sizes which means one for the handbag, schoolbag, baby bag and an XL tube for the beach bag. The Kind Sunscreen applies like a dream, doesn’t leave a white cast and feels lovely to wear.
We Are Feel Good Inc.
The founders at We Are Feel Good Inc wanted a product that ‘got’ the Aussie lifestyle. “Because no one likes that sticky post-sunscreen feel – we wanted a product that felt good on our skin from the moment it was applied till hours of fun later.” It was around a campfire on a family surfing trip that three couples, including a doctor, a builder & a professional surfer, decided to stop dreaming, and start doing. After years of researching, developing, refining, and testing, We Are Feel Good Inc. was finally launched.
This extensive range has all bases covered with Good Morning, a lighter textured SPF50 sunscreen that’s perfect in place of your daily moisturiser, the Coconut Sunscreen that smells like holidays and Sticky Zinc – our go-to tinted SPF that doesn’t feel at all sticky. There’s also a Kakadu Plum option and one for sensitive skins. All are SPF50 and broad spectrum, and tick all our SPF boxes.
For guidance around sun protection and SPF we recommend visiting the Cancer Council or the TGA.
For help choosing a sunscreen from our collection or customising your skincare routine, speak with us via Live Chat or email email@example.com
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A note from the TGA: Use sunscreen liberally and reapply according to product directions. Avoid prolonged exposure. Sunscreen is just one component of sun protection, it is important to wear protective clothing such as long sleeves, hats and protective eyewear when exposed to the sun.