Alrighty! It’s getting really hot here in Singapore and I believe it’s summer where some of you are based. Yes, it’s time to slather on more sunscreen gals and boys! But before you do so, have you done an audit on your sunscreen? What in the world is an audit? Well, you can think of it as an evaluation of your sunscreen. I do that a lot with my own sunscreen and so I thought I’ll share with you some tips on how I conduct my sunscreen audit. But first, let me establish why a sunscreen audit is necessary.
As you may already know, what your sunscreen does is to protect your skin from the harmful UVA and UVB rays from the sun. UVB rays are responsible for tanning, sunburns, and in general cause the most immediately visible damage to the epidermis (upper layer of skin). On the other hand, UVA ray has the ability to penetrate deep within the skin to affect the dermis and its effects are more long term, and exposure to UVA light can build with time. This means that damage does not show up until later.
So with these points in mind, we’re ready to find out how to conduct a sunscreen audit using these 5 questions.
1. Does your sunscreen offer broad spectrum protection?
It’s not about SPF but rather, if your sunscreen offers you protection against both UVA and UVB rays. So how can you determine if your sunscreen offers good broad spectrum protection? Well, you need to know something about photostable sun protection ingredients and there are just a handful like: Zinc Oxide, Tinosorb S + Tinosorb M, Mexoryl XL + Mexoryl SX. Other than these that I’m more familiar with, there appears to be a few other new filter systems in the market like Mexoplex and Helioplex that are said to offer broad spectrum protection too.
2. Does your sunscreen cause sunburn?
If you’re going to be directly under the sun for a long time, make sure your sunscreen is able to protect you from sunburn. It is best to choose one that is suitable for outdoor sports and is water resistant. I would suggest one with SPF50 containing one of the active ingredients listed above.
3. Do you have new sun spots on your skin?
Even if you avoid the sun for most part, your skin is still exposed to UVA exposure. In addition, UVA damage does not show up immediately. Hence, check your skin regularly and identify if you have new sun spots. It is not possible for any sunscreen to protect you completely but at the same time, new sun spots should not be appearing every other day. This is more so if you’re consistently using whitening products on your skin. If you find sun spots appearing frequently, your sunscreen is most likely not protecting your skin well enough and it’s high time to shop around for a new one.
4. Has your sunscreen expired?
Although some sunscreen products are said to have a shelf life of three years, I would really recommend you to ditch your sunscreen after a year because the potency might have been lost and the sunscreen rendered less effective.
5. Is your sunscreen properly stored?
If you’re an outdoor person, chances are, you may bring your sunscreen lotion out a lot. If that’s so, you might have stored in it in the car or perhaps left it out under direct sunlight for prolonged period. In that case, you may want to change your sunscreen as the active ingredients in your product may have been damaged by the heat.
There. I’ve listed tips to conduct a sunscreen audit, something I’ve been doing regularly. So far, I’m quite happy with the sunscreen I use on my face as it has minimized appearance of sun spots. However, I am not too happy with that used on my hands as I noticed that I have quite a number of new spots and they seem to be increasing. One problem could be because I haven’t been applying in sufficient amount. So yeah, I’m looking for a new sunscreen for the body and if you’ve got any good recommendation for a mineral sunscreen containing mostly zinc oxide, let me know in the comments box.