7 Sunblock Questions Answered By An Expert

7 Sunblock Questions Answered By An Expert

We caught up with Procter & Gamble senior scientist Laura Goodman for the latest on SPF.


By: Amber Katz

You know that using sunscreen is vital year-round (especially if you’re a frequent reader of StyleUnited!), and it’s especially important in the summer months. But do you know exactly how much you should use and how often you should reapply it? And are you aware of all the Health Canada recommendations on SPF? Many of us are due for a little refresher course on all things sun care, so I caught up with Laura Goodman, Procter & Gamble senior scientist, for the latest.

StyleUnited: Are there any ingredients we should look for when sunscreen shopping?

Laura Goodman: First, you want to look for that broad-spectrum protection designation. Turn the bottle over and look at the ingredients for avobenzone. If it has that, it’s truly broad spectrum. Keep in mind avobenzone is for chemical sunscreen. For physical/mineral sunscreens, look for titanium oxide or zinc oxide.

SU: Should we be layering on SPF before or after moisturizer/serums?

LG: After. Your UV protection should be the last thing you do. You want the goodies in your serum and moisturizers to get to your skin first. SPF is like an umbrella.

SU: How many times a day should we reapply sunscreen?

LG: It depends on what you’re doing. Sunscreen breaks down and wears out depending on exposure. Ideally, we’d love to have people reapply at lunch. When you’re out at the beach, people are more likely to reapply. Regarding mineral makeup, a re-dusting is extremely helpful to provide an extra layer of mineral sunscreen. If you use an SPF-infused moisturizer every day, there is a certain level of buildup. If you’re doing it consistently, your skin gets used to holding SPF there; there's a cumulative effect. So there's a difference between intermittent use versus using one every day.

SU: What number SPF do you recommend for day-to-day versus when we're on a beach vacation?

LG: For day to day, SPF 15 in the right amount is adequate. Traditionally, a large almond-shaped amount is fine for an average face. Apply it in two thin layers and then apply your makeup on top.

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For the beach, the higher SPF number, the more sensitive your skin may be to it. DDF has SPF 45, for which we did sensitivity testing, and it passed. If you can handle 45 to 50, do it. Zinc oxide now comes in a clear formula, so those sticks are good, too.

SU: Do higher SPFs make a difference?

LG: As for high SPFs, you're not going to get much more protection unless you're reapplying and it could potentially freak out your skin on an acne or sensitivity level. SPF 50 will be adequate protection. Two layers of 45 is more protection than 90. It’s not a linear scale. If you're not using the full amount of product recommended for SPF 30, you could be getting a protection level of only SPF 8, while two almond-amount layers of SPF 30 can be the equivalent of SPF 60. The AAD recommends SPF 30 every day, just to be conservative, taking into consideration most consumers' lack of education on the subject.

SU: What are some good SPF options for those concerned with breakouts/acne?

LG: The mineral sunscreens have become a good option for these people. DDF's Daily Protective Moisturizer SPF 15 is formulated specifically for acne-prone consumers. My favourite is the DDF Mattifying Oil Control UV Moisturizer SPF 15. You’re able to combat some of the issues that create the acne in the first place and protect sebum with mattifying powders. It is a moisturizer, but still has “mattifying” in the name so you know there’s an oil-absorbing powder that will help with shine control and sunscreen protection. Mineral powders are good, too, as SPF can be greasy.

SU: Should we be concerned about SPF getting in the way of our vitamin D intake?

LG: There have been studies that show you’re still absorbing Vitamin D even when you're using sunscreen. If you’re deficient in vitamin D, it can also stem from diet. It’s not always necessarily having to do with the sun. You can get the right amount of vitamin D from other sources.

Quick Tip: Carry a retractable blush brush in your purse pre-loaded with a mineral makeup in your shade for on-the-go touch-ups with sun protection.

You tell us: What's your number (SPF, that is!)?



Amber is a freelance writer and the founder of Beauty Blogging Junkie, a
hilarious pop-culture infused beauty blog that covers everything from eye shadow to hairspray. Amber has written for Instyle.com, MTV.com's Buzzworthy blog, New York Press and Girlfriend Getaways magazine.

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