There are many types of sunscreen on the market today: from classic sunblocks and sprays, to SPF powders and facial mists, the application methods are seemingly endless!
Today we’re digging in and explaining all the different types of sunscreen application methods available to you, in order to help you choose the best option for your lifestyle and your skin!
Types of Sunscreen: Powder, Lotion, Etc
While chemical and mineral are the main types of sunscreen, both come in a variety of forms, with varying application methods. Let’s dig into the different types of sunscreen based on form:
- Powder. These are dry sunscreen formulas that can be dusted over one’s face for sun protection. They’re often used in conjunction with cosmetics to double as a finishing powder. Powder is also one of the easiest types of sunscreen to reapply over makeup.
- Lotion. Easy to apply, lotion sunscreens are good for spreadability, making them a popular choice for applying sunscreen to large areas. However, since some can be quite thick, lotion sunscreens can be more likely to clog pores and feel heavy on the skin.
- Aerosol Spray. Often used on children, or for don’t appreciate the sticky sensation of sun lotion, sunscreen sprays use a propellant to provide spray-on sunscreen applications that leave behind no or limited residue. They’re quick and easy, and if you’re flexible you may even be able to wrap your arm around and apply sunscreen to your back alone. But it can at times be difficult to see exactly where you’ve sprayed, making it easy to miss spots. The spray’s efficacy can also be reduced when re-applied to wet skin, which can pose challenges.
- Mist Spray. Light misting sprays are becomingly increasingly popular as a form of sun protection. These SPF face spray mists allow you to quickly cover your face with a light layer of protection. Plus, many sprays double as makeup setting sprays, allowing them to set makeup while providing SPF protection. The downside is that it’s not always easy to see how much of your face you’ve covered, making under-application a common issue.
- Balm Stick. Sunscreen balm often comes in a bar or stick form and is very easy to apply and spreads well, but still offers good overall protection. Balms come in a variety of sizes and designs, from SPF lip balm to face sunscreen balm. The downside is that balm applications usually result in shiny, greasy-looking skin.
- Moisturizer. Many moisturizers (especially those for the face) will include SPF in their composition to provide moisturizing effects as well as sun protection. The only downside is that many individuals will use less moisturizer on their face than they should for adequate sun protection.
- Makeup. Many foundations and setting powders will come with SPF in their formulation. However, again, most users won’t apply makeup thickly enough to really provide adequate protection.
- Gel. Sunscreen gels aren’t as common, but they are a popular option for hairy areas that are difficult to cover with lotion, such as the scalp or chest.
What is the best type of sunscreen?
There’s no single definitive “best” type of sunscreen. The best type of sunscreen for you depends largely on what form you’re most likely to use consistently!
Face vs Body Sunscreen: Are They Different?
According to some, the only real difference between facial sunscreen and body sunscreen is marketing and size, with body sunscreen available in larger bottles while facial sunscreen is sold in smaller tubes at a higher price.
However, there are some real differences between face vs body sunscreen, mostly due to the fact that face sunscreen tends to be lighter weight and less greasy so that it’s less likely to clog pores.
This is important because the skin on your face tends to be much more sensitive than other parts of your body, so many individuals prefer a face-specific formula that’s more lightweight and non-comedogenic.
This is also why face sunscreen is less likely to result in rashes, breakouts, or other forms of irritation common with rougher, harsher body sunscreens.
Which Type of Sunscreen SPF Should I Use?
Always opt for a broad-spectrum sunscreen, which protects against both UVA and UVB rays. Your sunscreen should have an SPF of at least 30, with 50+ usually being the most popular in terms of protection.
However, keep in mind that while the difference between SPF 10 and SPF 30 is significant, the difference between SPF 30 to SPF 50 is more minimal.
A sunscreen that is rated SPF 10 allows 1/10th of UV rays to get through, providing 90% protection. SPF 30 is about 97% effective, allowing only 3% of UV rays to hit your skin, while SPF 50 is around 98%. effective, allowing 2% of UV rays through.
Of course, more protection is always ideal, but there’s a common issue where SPF 50 wearers end up with a false sense of security due to the higher SPF rating. They may stay out in the sun longer or skip reapplying, which often results in a lot more UV exposure than if an individual wore SPF 30 sunscreen and reapplied appropriately.
How to Choose the Best Type of Sunscreen for YOU!
- Consider your activity level. If you’ll be sweating, surfing, swimming, or engaging in physical activity, you’ll want a lotion or spray sunscreen that’s designed to hold up under activity.
- Where will you be? If you plan on being indoors for most of the day, a moisturizer with SPF or SPF-infused makeup may provide adequate protection. But, for a long day at the beach or when you’ll be spending a significant amount of time outdoors, a sunblock lotion or a spray are best.
- Consider your skin type. Sensitive skin types may prefer a lightweight, more gentle formula. Some may prefer a sunscreen face mist or SPF powder sunscreen for face use that can double as a makeup-setter. However, these may not provide the best protection for long periods outdoors, so be cautious.
- Avoid aerosols or powders that could serve as dangerous inhalants. Opt for lotion sunscreens when possible.
- Apply properly and reapply. Don’t skip on sunscreen! Most adults will need to apply 1 ounce (approximately enough to fill a shot glass) to fully cover their body. Reapply sunscreen after two hours.
- Consider Age. Gentle mineral sunscreens are preferred for young children, as they’re not as likely to cause skin irritation or rashes for sensitive young skin. Most parents opt for aerosol, but these shouldn’t be used for very young children, as the aerosols may be a potentially bad inhalant.
Have you used these types of sunscreen before? Which are your favorites and why? Let us know in the comments!