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Sunscreen 101: Everything You Need to Know

It’s completely normal to go back to those childhood memories of your parents telling you to put sunscreen on when the sun is out or when the warmer months arrive to keep your body protected. Actually, keep remembering that voice inside your head. Turns out, your parents were right. Except they probably weren’t thinking about clean skincare like we are. 

In this article, we’ll explain what the best face/body sunscreen can do for you, from the benefits of SPF protection to the different types of rays (UVA, UVB, and blue light) to why physical sunscreen is the best non-chemical clean sunscreen out there. 

Get all the information you need about sunscreen right here and step out into the world with the best face/body sunscreen for refreshed, protected, and hydrated skin.

What is sunscreen

Before getting into the nitty-gritty of sunscreen manufacturing and its uses, let’s get back to basics. 

Generally speaking, sunscreen is part of a more extensive sun-protecting skincare regimen for your face and body. As you know, when the sun hits, it hits hard, and without the best face/body sunscreen to protect you from its rays with appropriate SPF, you may suffer from long-term skin conditions or illnesses. 

In fact, regular use of sunscreen will significantly decrease your chances of developing skin cancers and precancer. Sunscreen will also protect your skin from premature signs of aging. Think about it like this: sunscreen = a protected and hydrated body.

Who should wear sunscreen?

Sun rays don’t discriminate. That means that men, women, and children over six months old alike should get in the habit of applying sunscreen every day on their face and body

And because sun rays don’t discriminate, it doesn’t matter that you tan quickly or are more prone to sunburns. You should still apply sunscreen as indicated. Any skin can burn, and burns can have damaging, long-term consequences. 

If your little one is under six months old, here’s a word of advice: keep them out of the sun. Baby skin, in addition to being irresistibly soft and squishy, is exceptionally sensitive. So if you must take your baby out in the sun, layer them up with sun-protective clothing.

The different types of sunscreens

There are two main types of sunscreen: physical sunscreen (also known as mineral sunscreen) and chemical sunscreen. Here’s the lowdown on each one:

Chemical sunscreen

Chemical sunscreen works by absorbing the sun’s ultraviolet rays and converting them into heat. In most cases, chemical sunscreens are made using avobenzone, octinoxate, octisalate, oxybenzone, and homosalate. They’re quick-absorbing and invisible

Physical sunscreen (mineral sunscreen

Physical sunscreens are typically made with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. These mineral ingredients create a physical barrier on your skin to reflect ultraviolet rays from the sun away from your skin. The best face/body sunscreens are often categorized as clean skincare products with no chalky residues, no white casts, and reef-safe formulas. 

Is physical sunscreen better than chemical sunscreen

Both physical sunscreen and chemical sunscreen have their own sets of pros and cons. We believe that physical sunscreen should be your go-to. Here’s why: 

  • - It reflects sun rays away from your skin, unlike chemical sunscreen, which absorbs them. 
  • - It is chemical-free and non-toxic.
  • - Its formula does not directly lead to skin cancers, inflammation, and irritation like chemical sunscreens do. 
  • - It provides instant protection from the sun, so you don’t have to wait for your skin to absorb it. 
  • - It’s reef-safe, you can get in the water with a clear and responsible conscience. 

While some physical sunscreens contain silicone, Ghost Democracy is unique in that it offers completely silicone-free protection.

What are the different types of ultraviolet (UV) rays? 

There are four main types of ultraviolet (UV) rays, and together they make the full spectrum of radiation: 

Ultraviolet burning (UVB) rays

UVB rays are the types of rays that most people associate with tanning — or too much tanning actually. UVB rays are known to burn the skin. They’re also known to cause various types of skin cancer. 

Ultraviolet aging (UVA) rays

UVA rays are everywhere. In fact, they seep through clouds and windows. They’re the rays responsible for the signs of aging we know so well: dark spots, wrinkles, fine lines. Unfortunately, they make up most of the rays that seep through the ozone layer. UVA rays can also cause skin cancer. 

High energy visible light (HEVL, or blue light)

HEVL or blue light usually comes from electronic devices. For instance, most computers, phones, and televisions will emit blue light. That’s why many brands and opticians have taken to providing products designed to prevent blue light from seeping into skin and eyes. Overexposure to blue light can lead to melasma

Now that you know the basics of sunscreen and the rays it protects you from, let’s get practical…

What is an SPF number? 

On every sunscreen product, you’ll notice “SPF” lettering followed by a number. SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor

Let’s take the example of an SPF 30 sunscreen. The 30 here indicates how long it will take for your face and body to burn once you’ve applied the sunscreen as instructed on the label. 

In theory, the higher the number, the longer you’ll stay protected. But how do you know which one to choose? 

If you plan to stay outside for long periods of time, you’re probably going to want to opt for a sunscreen with a higher SPF to stay protected for longer. Conversely, if you’re only going to be going outside sporadically and are planning to spend most of your day indoors, a lower SPF (like SPF 15) should do the trick. 

Keep in mind: no matter the SPF, you want to make sure that your sunscreen provides full-spectrum protection (remember the four types of UV rays).

How often should I reapply sunscreen

How often you should reapply sunscreen will greatly depend on what you’re doing. 

For example, if you’re going out to the beach in high temperatures, you know you’re going to be sweating and even perhaps swimming (if the water quality is suitable). In other words, if you’re getting in water or swimming, your sunscreen — be it a mineral or chemical sunscreen — will come off more easily than if you were to stay indoors. 

That being said, this applies to any physical activity too. So if you’re a beach volleyball fanatic or like to play tennis or run outdoors, you’re going to want to reapply sunscreen to your face and body frequently. 

The rule of thumb is that you should reapply sunscreen every two hours or as otherwise indicated both by your dermatologist and the product label.

Do I need to wear sunscreen every day?

The short answer to whether you should wear sunscreen every day is: Yes! 

Whether it’s January or July, the sun is still out there, and it’s still shining. And regardless of how cloudy it is, those rays are still hitting your face and body each time you step out the door — and UVA rays still hit your skin when you're indoors. 

That’s why you should include mineral sunscreen in your everyday clean skincare routine. 

The bottom line…

The bottom line is that sun rays are dangerous and lacking appropriate protection from them, you can experience severe and even life-threatening side effects. 

Our advice: Grab yourself a non-toxic mineral sunscreen with an SPF number that’s appropriate for your lifestyle and make a habit of applying it to your face and body every day, no matter where you are.

Next Up: Chemical and physical sunscreens: How to choose?