Our 5 Minute Guide to Sunscreens


If you aren’t already using sunscreen daily, it’s time to start! In this post, we’ll go over:

  1. Why you need sunscreen
  2. The basics and what all the lingo means
  3. How to use sunscreen properly
  4. The difference between physical and chemical sunscreens (& what is a hybrid??)
  5. How to become a sunscreen expert

Why should I bother?

Prolonged sun exposure throughout your life can cause everything from signs of aging and uneven skin tone to skin cancer 😱 Just walking to your car in the morning and being inside a building with windows can be harmful (yes, it’s that serious). Basically, any time the sun’s rays are visible, you’re at risk.

What do I need to know?

First, understand the basics. You want to find a product that will protect you from both UVA and UVB rays.

  • UVA rays penetrate deeper into the skin and causes premature signs of aging, such as wrinkles, hyper-pigmentation, and uneven skin tone. UVA can go through cloud and glass!
  • UVB rays can burn the skin’s surface and cause sunburns. They may even contribute to skin cancer.

On the bottle, you might see something like this: “SPF50+ PA+++”

  • The “SPF50+” refers to protection against UVB rays. You should maintain a protection of 30-50.
  • The “PA+++” refers to protection from UVA rays. For moderate protection, a PA++ is fine, but it’s best to stick to PA+++ and PA++++.

How do I use sunscreens?

Commit these sunscreen rules to memory:

  1. Be generous with it.
  2. It should be the last step of your AM skincare routine. After moisturizer, before primer/foundation.
  3. Sun rays are strongest between 10am and 2pm. Apply liberally if you’ll be exposed to sun during this time.
  4. Reapply every 2 hours, or after swimming or excessive sweating. Higher SPF doesn’t mean you can stay out longer or apply less. For application over makeup, try sun cushions or powders!
  5. Get some sun protection on ALL exposed skin- that includes the face, lips, neck, ears, hands, everything.

Which sunscreen should I get?

Physical sunscreens sit on top of the skin and deflects sun rays.

  • tends to be gentler on most skin types
  • may leave a white cast on the skin
  • protection begins immediately after application
  • protection stays effective for a longer time

Chemical sunscreens absorb into the skin and converts sun rays into heat, which is then released off your skin.

  • absorbs immediately
  • offers more consistent coverage
  • doesn’t leave a white cast
  • more likely to irritate the skin, especially those with sensitivity or acne
  • must be applied 20 minutes before sun exposure

Hybrid sunscreens have components of both physical and chemical sunscreens. They’re great because they offer the same coverage as a chemical sunscreen and is light like a physical sunscreen, but isn’t chalky or irritating on sensitive skin. Due to the chemical ingredients, you should still apply 20 minutes prior to sun exposure.

How will I know if my sunscreen is physical, chemical, or hybrid?

Easy. Take a look at the ingredients!

If you see any of these ingredients, you have a physical sunscreen:

  • Zinc Oxide
  • Titanium Dioxide

If you see any of these ingredients, you have a chemical sunscreen:

  • Avobenzone / Butyl methoxy-dibenzoyl-methane
  • Meradimate / Menthyl anthranilate
  • Aminobenzoic Acid
  • Cinoxate / 2-Ethoxyethyl p-methoxycinnamate
  • Dioxybenzone
  • Oxybenzone / Benzophenone-3
  • Ensulizole / Phenylbenzimiazole sulfonic acid
  • Sulisobenzone
  • Homosalate / Homomethyl salicylate
  • Octocrylene
  • Octinoxate / Octyl methoxy-cinnamate / Ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate
  • Octisalate / Octyl salicylate / Ethylhexyl salicylate
  • Padimate O
  • Trolamine Salicylate / Triethanolamine salicylate
  • Tinosorb M / Methylene bis-benzotriazolyl tetramethylbutyl-phenol / Bisoctrizole
  • Tinosorb S / Bis-Ethylhexyloxyphenol Methoxyphenyl Triazine / Bemotrizinol / Anisotriazine
  • Terephthalylidene dicamphor sulfonic acid / Mexoryl SX
  • Mexoryl XL / Drometrizole trisiloxane
  • Helioplex
  • Octyltriazone / Ethylhexyl triazone
  • Enzacamene
  • Para-aminobenzic acid / PABA

If you see a combination of chemical and physical ingredients, you have a hybrid sunscreen.

*Keep in mind that our list of chemical UV filters is incomplete and you may come across others that aren’t shown here. Some of the most common chemical ingredients have been underlined 😁

Discover your go-to sunscreen ➡

Anything else you’d like to know? Let us know in the comments 👇

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