Comprehensive guide to choosing a topical sunscreen

July 22, 2021

Sunscreen is a daily must-have for everyone – whether you are indoors or outdoors, fair or dark, male or female, everyone needs to use a good sunscreen to prevent much-dreaded UV damage.

However, with a plethora of topical sunscreens in the market to choose from, it can be difficult to understand which one is a good fit for you. Every sunscreen claims to do just the trick for your skin, but how can you find one that really works for you?

In this guide, we explain all the key considerations you should make when choosing a topical sunscreen.

Mineral vs chemical sunscreens

Most sunscreens can be divided into 2 main types: mineral and sunscreen.

Mineral sunscreens are formulated with mineral filters, which are particles that sit on the skin’s surface and physically prevent UV rays from penetrating the skin. These typically present as a white cast on the skin and may not be favoured by most people, but they are very suitable for younger children and people with sensitive skin.

On the other hand, chemical sunscreens, formulated with chemical filters, work by allowing UV light into the skin. Once the light is absorbed into the skin, the chemicals in the sunscreen create a chemical reaction in which UV light is converted to heat, and the heat dissipates from the skin. Chemical sunscreens are usually easier and quicker to apply on skin, but may cause skin reactions in certain people.

If you can’t decide on which type of sunscreen works best for your skin, consider getting a sunscreen that contains both chemical and mineral filters to get the best of both worlds. For example, Heliocare’s range features many topical sunscreens that are formulated with both chemical and mineral filters so that you get the most optimal UV protection you can get.

Consider conditions of use and exposure conditions

Do you often engage in outdoor activities under the hot sun? Does your exercise regime comprise primarily of swimming? Or are you more of an indoor person who spends long hours in front of your computer screen and mobile phone?

Asking these questions can help you better understand the level of UV exposure you receive and the type of conditions you’re wearing sunscreen in, hence eliminating unsuitable options much quicker than you think.

For example:

  • If you’re looking for a sunscreen that will give ample coverage even under intense sun exposure, look out for sunscreens with a SPF of at least 50 (e.g. Heliocare Ultra 90 Gel SPF50+)
  • If you need a sunscreen that will stay on longer while you’re swimming or at the beach, opt for water-resistant sunscreens (e.g. Heliocare 360º Pediatrics Atopic Lotion SPF 50)
  • If you’re concerned about indoor light due to the long hours you spend in close proximity to your work laptop, get a sunscreen that ensures blue light protection as well (e.g. Heliocare 360° Gel Oil-free SPF 50)

Consider textures suited for your skin type

Many people tend to think of sunscreens as thick white cream that is difficult to apply evenly, clumps under makeup, and feels sticky or oily, but the truth cannot be farther than that! These days, sunscreens come in a variety of textures and formulations, which makes it much easier to find one that will suit your skin type.

That being said, for those with oily and acne-prone skin living in humid climates, getting a lightweight sunscreen that doesn’t clog pores or leave your face feeling like a greasy mess still remains a challenge.

Thankfully, there are options out there that leave you with no excuse to skip out on sunscreen – look out for sunscreens that apply matte and contain ingredients that help to keep sebum production in check. Heliocare 360° Gel Oil-free SPF 50 is a popular sunscreen choice in Singapore that dries to a matte touch and regulates sebum control, all while providing the broad-spectrum UV protection you need.

There are sunscreens specially formulated for dry and sensitive skin as well – these usually come with moisturizing ingredients and mineral filters. The Heliocare 360° Pediatrics Mineral SPF 50+ is one sunscreen that has been tested on sensitive and atopic skin from 3 months of age, meaning that everyone, even young toddlers, can enjoy comprehensive UV protection!

Opt for broad-spectrum sunscreens

If you’ve heard the term ‘broad-spectrum’ but don’t fully understand why it is important to have this label on your sunscreen, here’s a simple explanation: according to FDA, broad-spectrum sunscreens essentially protect against both UVA — which causes wrinkles — and UVB rays — which causes sunburn and skin cancer.

While most sunscreens these days are labelled broad-spectrum, it is not a given that all sunscreens are such! An easy way to tell if a sunscreen is broad-spectrum is to check if it has a SPF rating AND critical wavelength or PA rating, the latter being an indication of UVA protection provided by the sunscreen.
However, do also note that broad-spectrum protection does not necessarily cover blue light (or indoor light), which has been clinically-proven to cause hyperpigmentation and DNA damage.

This is what makes Heliocare’s 360º range unique: thanks to its one-of-a-kind formulation with Fernblock, advanced filters, and Bioshield system to absorb up to 200% more blue light than our skin, the sunscreens in the range provide comprehensive protection against 4 types of radiation – UVA, UVB, blue light, and infrared radiation, which is indicated by its critical wavelength (λc ≥ 370nm).

For a detailed guide to what the various ratings mean, you may refer to our guide on sun protection measurements.

Ready to find a Heliocare topical sunscreen to protect yourself against UV radiation but don’t know what’s best for you? Feel free to drop us an email at enquiry@heliocare.com.sg!

Purchasing Heliocare from unauthorised sources could lead to health risk and complications. Buy only from authorised clinics, websites, and stores. If you’re unsure of the authenticity of your Heliocare products, please contact us and we’ll be happy to advise.