Sunscreen By Numbers

One simple guide on your recommended SPF level, how much to use and reapplication timings


Protection power: 30

As a rule of thumb, pick a sunscreen of at least SPF30 PA+++. A high sun protection factor (SPF) protects skin against UVB rays, and a high PA rating fends off UVA rays. Dr Joyce Lim, dermatologist at Joyce Lim Skin & Laser Clinic, also recommends looking for sunscreens with in-built infrared filters, as well as antioxidants if anti-ageing is a priority. For tropical weather, lightweight lotions or gels tend to be more comfortable and are less likely to clog pores than cream formulas.

Layers on face: At least 2

Makeup can’t replace sunscreen, and moreover, most people don’t apply enough makeup for sufficient sun protection. So unless you want to slather on a mask-like layer of foundation and powder, you’ll certainly need a separate sunscreen on top of your makeup.

Reapply: Every 4 hours

A good guideline is to reapply sunscreen every four hours, says Dr Lim. “However, if you are outdoors and perspiring a lot, you may need to reapply every three hours.” Remember that sunscreen takes half an hour to be absorbed by the skin, so always apply it in advance, before it wears off.

Essential hours: 10am to 4pm

If your clothing doesn’t cover your limbs, you should apply sunscreen to protect them, says Dr Lim. This minimises sun exposure, especially if you are expecting to walk long distances in the sun between 10am to 4pm when ultraviolet rays are most intense.

2 more things to take note of:


Do oral sunblocks work, and can they replace topical sunscreens?

Oral sunblocks are meant to supplement topical sunscreens, not replace them entirely. “Studies show that oral sunscreens block off UVB rays, however, there are insufficient studies to show that they fend off UVA rays,” explains Dr Lim. In other words, topical sunscreens are still mandatory.

My skin is sunburnt. What’s the best damage control?

“Allow your skin to cool down before taking a soothing tepid shower. Then, keep skin hydrated by applying moisturiser liberally. Try over-the-counter hydrocortisone or aloe vera cream to reduce inflammation and encourage healing,” suggests Dr Eileen Tan, dermatologist at Dr Eileen Tan Skin, Laser & Hair Transplant Clinic. “In the meantime, switch from a chemical sunscreen to a physical sunscreen to minimise irritation during the recovery phase,” she adds.

Photo: Imaxtree

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