What are the Different Types of Sunscreen?


Most of us are aware that sunscreen is a type of skin cream containing a variety of compounds, and its purpose is to help to reflect sun’s ultraviolet radiation, so we don’t get cancer.

For most of us, that’s all we know and that’s all some of us need to know.

In reality, however, there are a number of different types of sunscreen, and each have slightly different characteristics, that are worth knowing about if you really care about your skin’s health.

If you’re interested in learning about these differences, you’re in the right place!

In any situation where you are getting a lot of sun, you are obviously wanting the most complete sun protection available, as the sun’s rays are inevitably going to be beating down on your skin for an extended period of time. 

There are many skin problems that you may experience due to over exposure to the sun, which you’ve probably heard about already – skin cancer, premature aging, wrinkles, dark spots, fine lines, redness, and the list goes on.

But why does this happen?

Consequences of UVA and UVB Rays on Human Skin

Basically, there are two types of ultraviolet rays that can be extremely problematic for your skin.

Unfortunately, both rays are associated with skin cancer.

Ultraviolet A (UVA) rays can affect your skin deep down and is accountable for skin tanning, which can seem like a positive.

However, these rays can lead to your skin showing signs of premature aging in the form of wrinkles.

Ultraviolet B (UVB) rays are responsible for creating red patches upon your skin and can cause sunburns as well.

While buying any sunscreen of any kind, keep in mind that you’ll need to purchase a type of sunscreen that can protect your skin from both kinds of ultraviolet rays.

Ok, now just keep in mind the importance of this statement as we move into the next section.

A Quick Guide To The Different Types of Sunscreens

Here is an quick but complete guide to the different types of sunscreen, so that you can better decide about which you will need on your next outing or vacation.

Once-a-Day Sunscreen

As the name itself suggests, this is a sunscreen that needs only a single application for the rest of the day.

You just need to apply it to all the parts of your body where your skin will be exposed to the sun’s rays. 

Usually, these are considered to be water resistant, but make sure it actually says that on the package first, or it may not be. 

 Water-Resistant Sunscreen

If you’re planning a full day or more at the beach, pool, or sunning anywhere there is water, then this type is best for you. This sunscreen will protect your skin from sun rays when you’re in the water. 

It’s basically waterproof sunscreen, meaning that water won’t wash it off; at least not easily.  Actually, an important thing to note is that waterproof and water resistant are two different things, in terms of what a product can claim to be. 

Water resistant isn’t the same as 100% waterproof.  Water resistant means that the sunscreen will do it’s best to resist the water, but it isn’t exactly going to defend against it 100%.  

We suggest you to read the instructions carefully about how long this sunscreen type can stay on your skin, as it won’t last all day.

In particular, reapply it after you come out of the water, since you will likely be drying your body off with a towel, and hence removing much of the sunscreen’s protection.

Insect Repellent Sunscreen

This sunscreen will fend off insects and ultraviolet rays at a same time.

However, you have to apply it a lot more than any other insect repellent cream, because it is doing two jobs at once.

In this regard, we recommend you to use two separate products for better skin care and a longer lasting effect. 

Of course, getting one product is more convenient and you can try it, but make sure it is one of the better rated products out there or it may perform neither job effectively.

Facial Sunscreen

Facial sunscreen mostly contains moisturizer for the everyday frequent application, but has some properties of sunscreen as well.

This type of sunscreen is light, non-greasy in texture, and this is why it is extremely functional for sensitive skin types.  As we all know, the face is a very sensitive part of the body, especially the skin on our face, which is why there is a type of sunscreen dedicated to just treating the face only.

Make sure you keep on applying it at regular intervals when exposing your skin to sun over long stretches of time.  This is generally ok, because it is part-moisturizer, and therefore isn’t as oily as certain types of sunscreen.

Anti-Aging Sunscreen

This sunscreen type contains some anti-aging properties to protect your skin. It helps to prevent wrinkles but you need to apply it correctly on daily basis.

The “ingredients” in these anti-aging products, as it were, are more numerous and more complex.  Be sure to study what’s in the bottle to determine if this is something you want to be applying to your skin.

Deciding Which Sunscreen Is Best For You

After learning about all the different types of sunscreens that are available, you now will need to decide which type would be best for you overall. This can be quite confusing, as there are so many different kinds.

Deciding factors include: which type is most comfortable upon your skin, which is most convenient for you to apply and reapply when needed, and which have properties that will overall benefit you in the long run.

You have to consider the type of activity you will be taking part in while wearing the sunscreen as well.

These activities can include swimming, running, hiking, biking, or even sun-bathing. Lastly, think about whether you are going to use it at your face or body.

Moreover, there are a number of variations in the forms of sunscreen including:

  • Gel sunscreen
  • Cream Sunscreen
  • Sunscreen lotion
  • Sunscreen wipes
  • Sunscreen spray
  • Colored sunscreen
  • Powder sunscreen

It is necessary to choose a particular one that is the most appropriate for your skin type.

Then, you must think about whether you will be outside for a long time in the sun, or just a short time.

Final Considerations

We would like to recommend you to go through all the given information while applying a sunscreen upon your face and body.

Don’t neglect certain conditions while applying it. As for example, consider it properly if you are buying it for children use only.

For an allergic and acne skin, you must make a very good decision regarding which sunscreen to use, as it is an exceptionally sensitive case.

Other conditions can be darker skin tones, fair skin, having any skin disease, or even your age.

Many people have issues that a particular sunscreen keeps their skin breaking out in a rash.

This can happen from too much oil, triggering the reaction, and making your skin feel dry and other such problems.

So don’t take your decision for which sunscreen to use too lightly.  It is an important decision.  You want your skin to be healthy at all times.

Let us know if we helped you out!

About the author: Sariya is our resident tanning expert.  Being Turkish, she has a tendency to tan easily, which she considers a blessing. At the same time, Sariya minored in chemistry, so, when it comes to various lotions and bronzers, Siriya knows a thing or two.  As much as she loves her tan, she knows that sun safety is also very important.

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