What Type of Sunscreen Do You Need?

The countdown to summer is on—and that means it’s also time to reintroduce sunscreen to your skin care routine if you haven’t already done so. While it’s a year-round essential, many people simply don’t use it until the temperatures soar and the sunshine beats down on their skin. As long as you use it, you’re in good shape. But are you using the right type of sunscreen?

According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), there’s no specific type that is better than another. However, it is important to seek out a formula that meets the following criteria: it should have a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or more, provide broad-spectrum protection against both UVA and UVB rays, and be resistant to water. All of these factors will offer you greater protection from burning, the visible signs of aging, and skin cancer.

Based on your skin type, where you’re going to be, and what your preferences are, you can select from a wide range of sunscreens. Here are several we love and highly recommend for their protective benefits:

For Normal Skin

If you have normal to combination skin, you’ll benefit from a lightweight formula that increases your ability to resist harmful ultraviolet rays and minimizes the odds of developing fine lines and wrinkles. PCA Skin Active Broad Spectrum SPF 45 Water-Resistant ($25.99) is a potent product that lasts whether you’re taking a dip in the ocean or relaxing by the pool. It contains caffeine, a hyper-charged anti-aging ingredient that works overtime to save your skin.

For Oily Skin

Dealing with oily skin can be especially frustrating in the summer, when sebum production seems to go into overdrive. Luckily, products like bareMinerals Prime Time BB Primer-Cream Daily Defense Broad Spectrum SPF 30 ($21.99) help soak up the shine while giving your skin the protection it needs when you’re outside. And if you happen to have a few dry patches, this will help stave off the flakes and improve the overall appearance of your skin with regular use.

For Dry Skin

Dry skin can be difficult to treat, especially when it comes to selecting an effective sunscreen that won’t make the problem even worse. Seek out formulas enriched with moisturizing ingredients, like gentle oils or squalene. Avene Hydrating Sunscreen Balm SPF 50 ($13.99) contains shea butter and glycerin, both potent “drinks” for your skin that help nourish. Vitamin E protects your skin from antioxidant damage, while Avene’s signature thermal spring water provides some calming protection.

For Sensitive Skin

Don’t let blotchy skin and hypersensitivity stop you from wearing sunscreen. If anything, you need it more than ever to minimize the odds of aggravating already irritated skin. Try Dermablend Cover Crème Broad Spectrum SPF 30 ($25.99) if your goal is to cover the redness while protecting your complexion. This provides full coverage, so you can rest assured that the ruddy nose, dark spots, and undereye circles will all be beautifully concealed. With up to 16 hours of coverage, it’s available in 21 shades and won’t budge.

Which Moisturizer To Get Based On Your Skin Type

Unless a skincare professional has explicitly told you what skin type you have, it’s pretty hard to discern for yourself. Sometimes, it feels like your skin is super greasy, but then you have those days where everything seems normal. Although a few factors can come into play like the environment and your age, most skin types fall into one of five categories: oily, dry, combination, sensitive, or normal. We’ll explain each category so that you can take the trial and error out of skincare and choose the best moisturizer for your specific skin type.

Credit to FashionIconLady.com

Oily Skin

Indicators: Large pores, an all-over greasy sheen, and the need to use blotting sheets several times throughout the day.

Solution: Avoid heavy creams—instead, go for Avene Mattifying Fluid ($22.99), a lightweight soap-free lotion that will regulate excess oils but still keep your skin hydrated. While you might feel tempted to skip moisturizer altogether, your skin will actually become oilier if you try to dry your skin out. Fortunately, this moisturizer is water-based so it will completely absorb into your skin in just a few minutes.

Dry Skin

Indicators: Itchy, flaky, and/or red skin that feels uncomfortably tight after cleansing.

Solution: First, stop using hot water to cleanse as it strips your skin of natural oils. Stick to lukewarm water, instead. Second, quench your skin’s thirst with an ultra-hydrating moisturizer like Obagi CLENZIderm MD Therapeutic Moisturizer ($26.99). This moisturizer replenishes chapped skin with two potent ingredients: Allantoin, a plant-derived compound that heals skin by stimulating cell regeneration, and glycerin, which hydrates the skin by drawing water into your skin’s outer layer from the air.

Credit to Glossier.com

Combination Skin

Indicators: Your cheeks are dry but you have an oily t-zone (that’s your forehead, nose, and chin).

Solution: Combination skin is probably the trickiest of all the skin types, which is why you’ll need a two-in-one product. Your best bet is PCA Skin Clearskin ($31.89) since it balances moisture levels and helps soothe acne-prone skin at the same time. You won’t have to worry about clogged pores or an oily residue thanks to the fast-absorbing formula.

Sensitive Skin

Indicators: Your face turns red with light pressure and the majority of the products you’ve put on your skin causes redness and stinging as well.

Solution: Get your skin to react positively with Dermalogica Barrier Repair ($35.99). This silicone-based moisturizer soothes sensitive skin by protecting it from free radicals and inflammation. Free of any artificial colors and fragrances, the vitamin-packed waterless formula will give your skin all the hydration it needs without any irritation.

Normal Skin

Indicators: An even skin tone with no sheen or flaking (AKA, the goal of every skincare regimen).

Solution: Celebrate! Oh, and keep up that skin by moisturizing, of course. Peter Thomas Roth Ultra Lite Oil-Free Moisturizer ($23.79) is ideal for normal skin types as it provides antioxidant protection with vitamins A and E. The lightweight gel formula also contains allantoin—which as you’ve already read—works wonders for promoting healthy skin.

Skincare 101: Everything You Need to Know

 Choosing the right skincare products can be a tricky thing. Once you’ve settled on a regimen, you have to make sure you’re using your products in the right order, applying them at the right time of day, and treating your concerns effectively. It can be mind boggling simply navigating the skincare aisle at the drugstore! That’s why we’ve broken down the fine art of caring for your skin. Here’s everything you need to know.

 

Q: In what order should I use my skincare products?

It’s no good having a great collection of products if you aren’t applying them in the proper order. The first step is to remove all traces of dirt and debris with an effective cleanser formulated for your skin type. The goal is simply to start with a clean canvas. Make a commitment to exfoliate dry skin two to three times a week with a gentle scrub. Focus on those areas where clogged pores are most prominent, like your cheeks and nose.

Follow with a serum that’s packed with ingredients that target your skin’s unique needs. Formulas enriched with retinol’s and hyaluronic acids are designed to target aging, while nourishing oils lock in moisture for dry skin. Remember to pat your serum on—don’t rub. Next, pat eye cream on gently, taking care not to rub or tug the delicate skin in this area. Work your way from the outer corners of your eyes and down along the orbital bone. Then apply moisturizer. Your final step is sunscreen, which is essential if you’re headed outdoors.

 

Q: Can I use a face oil if I have oily skin? 

It may sound counterintuitive, but face oils are remarkably effective even on oily skin. They key is not to go overboard in your usage, and to stick with nourishing ingredients that help balance your skin. We like Peter Thomas Roth Oilless Oil 100% Purified Squalene ($23.99) for its gentle, non-comedogenic formula. If you find that most oils feel too heavy, look for a product specifically formulated as lightweight. You might also want to add just a drop to your nighttime moisturizer instead of slicking it onto your skin full throttle. Nighttime is definitely an important qualifier, too: your skin is less oily at night, so it’s best to apply your face oil right before you hit the sack.

 

Q: What’s the difference between a hydrator and a moisturizer?

Thought the terms are often used interchangeably, hydration and moisturization are two different concepts. Hydrators are designed to increase your skin’s water content, while moisturizers lock in moisture to prevent that water content from being lost. This is why it’s advisable to apply moisturizer to slightly damp skin—it’s the water that keeps skin hydrated, while the moisturizer seals that hydration and keeps skin soft and supple. For extra dry skin, we love Skinmedia HA5 Rejuvenating Hydrator ($329.89) to really ramp up your skin’s ability to combat fine lines while maintaining a smoother, healthier complexion.

 

Q: How long should I wait before applying sunscreen?

 

You’ve slathered sunscreen all over your face and body about 20 minutes before heading outside. You’re good to go—for now, at least. Pay attention to your sunscreen’s SPF rating. That number indicates how much time you can safely spend in the sun before your skin starts to show signs of damage (like pinkness or redness). As a general rule of thumb, it’s a good idea to reapply sunscreen after two hours. If you’re using a water-resistant formula, note that their efficacy times may differ. So if you’re swimming or surfing, be sure to reapply as often as the packaging instructs. One of our favorite head-to-toe formulas is Avene Mineral Light Hydrating Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50+ for Face and Body ($24.99).

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