skip to Main Content
Woman On The Beach In A Floppy Hat Applying Sunscreen To Her Face

Sunscreen is a Must for Your Daily Skincare Routine

Sunscreen is one of the most important steps in a simple skincare routine. As we’ve learned, your basic daily skincare routine should include a cleanser, toner, moisturizer, and sunscreen.

Great sunscreens offer broad-spectrum protection against both UVA and UVB rays. UVB rays are responsible for sunburns and cellular damage that increases your risk for skin cancer. Until recently, sunscreens only blocked UVB rays.

UVA rays don’t cause sunburn, but they penetrate deep into your skin to create fine lines and wrinkles. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that your lifetime exposure to UVA rays causes 90% of skin changes due to aging. Many companies have begun offering broad-spectrum sunscreens that protect your skin from both harmful types of UV rays.

If you want healthy, youthful skin, you should apply sunscreen daily. In this article, we’ll explore the different types of sunscreen and how to choose the right type for your skin.


Types of Sunscreen

There are two basic types of sunscreen, but they protect the skin in very different ways.

Physical sunscreens prevent the sun’s UV rays from reaching the skin by creating a barrier over the skin to block UV rays. Common ingredients in physical sunscreens are titanium dioxide and zinc oxide.

The ingredients in a physical sunscreen are often less irritating for those with sensitive skin, but they can leave a white cast and may not be suitable for people with darker skin tones.

Chemical sunscreens prevent the sun’s UV rays from reaching the skin by chemically converting the rays to heat, then releasing the heat from the skin so that it doesn’t cause a burn. Common ingredients in chemical sunscreens are avobenzone, octinoxate, cinnamate, and benzophenone.

Chemical sunscreens have smaller molecules than physical sunscreens. They are often thinner, so you don’t need to use as much to protect your skin. However, people with sensitive skin may find the chemicals irritating.

If you have sensitive skin or a condition such as eczema, you’ll probably do better with a physical sunscreen because your skin doesn’t absorb the ingredients. Children’s sunscreens are also a good option because they’re formulated to be gentle enough for delicate baby skin.


What Does SPF Mean and How Much Do I Need?

SPF means sun protection factor. It measures how long a sunscreen will protect your skin from UVB rays. For example, if you usually get a sunburn after 10 minutes, an SPF 15 sunscreen would protect you fifteen times longer than it takes to burn without protection, in this case, 150 minutes.

People with darker skin tones or those who do not burn easily will get sufficient protection from SPF 15 sunscreens for daily use. However, they should use a higher SPF for prolonged time outdoors. We recommend that people with fair skin and/or a family history of skin cancer use SPF 30 or higher daily.


Applying Sunscreen

Believe it or not, most people do not get the full SPF protection advertised on a sunscreen bottle because they don’t apply enough. To cover your entire body adequately, you need to use one ounce of sunscreen. For reference, that’s about the size of a typical shot glass.

Physical sunscreens are effective as soon as you apply them. However, chemical sunscreens need 15 – 30 minutes to activate before they offer protection, so plan accordingly.

Many sunscreens wear beautifully under makeup, so there’s no reason to skip this essential step. If your current sunscreen pills under your makeup or causes your foundation to separate, keep searching until you find one that pairs well with your makeup. You can streamline your morning skincare routine by using a moisturizer that also has sunscreen in it.

If you’re spending a lot of time in the sun, make sure that you reapply your sunscreen every two hours. If you’re swimming or sweating, you’ll need to apply it more often. According to the FDA, “water-resistant” sunscreens maintain their SPF for 40 minutes in the water, while “very water-resistant” sunscreens maintain their SPF for 80 minutes.

Take your sun protection to the next level by using lip balms with SPF. Wearing broad-brimmed hats protects your head and ears. Since typical clothing does not offer sun protection, you may want to consider wearing specialized UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) clothing for long days outside.


Still Not Sure Which Sunscreen to Choose?

The sheer number of sunscreen options can be overwhelming. If you want personalized advice about what sun protection strategies are right for your skin type and lifestyle, schedule an appointment at Cumberland Dermatology today!

Cumberland Skin Surgery and Dermatology provides effective, compassionate general dermatology, skin cancer surgery and cosmetic dermatology solutions for our patients throughout the Southeast. With offices in Hermitage, Lebanon, Brentwood and Hendersonville, Tennessee, we’re your destination for high-caliber skincare. Visit our website at or give us a call today at 615-257-7128.

Back To Top