Why understanding the sunscreen label is important

Like a good hat and your favourite pair of sunnies, ultraviolet sunscreen is one of the best defences against sun damage and rays both UVB and UVA. It is also an easy way to help preserve your skin and fight the signs of ageing – win-win!

In a nutshell, sunscreen is a solution that combines several active and supporting ingredients to protect your skin from ultraviolet (UV) rays. By getting to know your skin type, skin tone, location and lifestyle, and becoming familiar with sunscreen labels and the ingredients used in sunscreen, you can make sure you’re giving your beautiful skin the protection it deserves.

What does the sunscreen label tell us?

A little baffled by the different terms dotted all over the sunscreen label? We’ve broken down some of the most frequently used terms so you know what to look out for.

Sun protection factor (SPF)

A sunscreen’s sun protection factor (SPF) tells you how long your protection can last outdoors before having to reapply. The sun can be harmful due to ultraviolet B (UVB) ray exposure, so the SPF component measures the level of UVB protection a sunscreen offers.

SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor. Every skin type has a different length of time until it burns in the sun. SPF 15 extends that time by 15, SPF 30 extends that time by 30 and SPF 50+ extends that time by at least 50 times. There are however multiple factors that also affect your level of protection, such as how much sunscreen you apply, the weather and if you have been sweating or swimming. If you’re going to be out in the sun for an extended amount of time, don’t forget to cover up with sun protective clothing such as shirts, wide brimmed hats and sunglasses, apply sunscreen with an SPF50+ rating and reapply regularly.

Moisture WITH SPF

The sun can make your skin lose moisture, which makes it more vulnerable to sun damage. Luckily, sunscreen can help out! NIVEA sunscreens contain moisturising properties to combat the dryness that can result from being exposed to the sun. Not only does this keep your skin soft, smooth and radiant, but it can also increase the level of protection offered by a sunscreen – an extra dose of moisture helps maintain your skin’s protective barrier.

Common sunscreen ingredients

  • Homosalate – a frequently used UV filter
  • Octyl Salicylate – similar to homosalate, this ingredient filters out UV rays
  • Butyl Methoxydibenzoylmethane – this active ingredient absorbs UV rays and converts them to heat, which tends to be less harmful
  • Octocrylene – this ingredient is used to absorb UVA and UVB rays and is photostable, meaning it remains effective when exposed to sunlight
  • Bemotrizinol – this photostable ingredient also absorbs both UVA and UVB rays
  • Vitamin E, Glycerin or Panthenol – these nifty moisturising ingredients help protect your skin from dryness and keep it soft and supple

Always read the label and follow the directions of use. Sunscreens are only one part of sun protection. Avoid prolonged high-risk sun exposure. Reapply frequently.

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