You can get away with skipping a serum, ditching your exfoliator or taking a break from a moisturiser. But sunscreen? That’s always going to be the protagonist in your routine.

We haven’t met a dermatologist, skincare junkie or well-wisher that doesn’t extoll the benefits of sun protection. If there’s anything you want to be on top of in the skincare realm, it’s your daily sunscreen application. UV rays from the sun can age skin cells, cause fine lines, exacerbate DNA damage and even cause skin cancer. So whether you’re working at home, in the car, on a flight, out at lunch or in transit, you’ll want to slather on sunscreen—a whole ½ a teaspoon all over your face.

Here’s how UV rays can wreak havoc

Ultraviolet radiation consists of three wavelengths—UVA, UVB and UVC. UVA rays penetrate the skin more deeply and are the primary cause of weakened elasticity. UVB rays target the outermost layers of the dermis and can cause sunburns and cancers. Collagen and elastin fibres are housed in the dermis, which is sandwiched between the epidermis and subcutaneous tissue. When these fibres are broken down, there is nothing to hold up the skin cells, which then can lead to fine lines, wrinkles and droopiness.

Added to the loss of collagen, which forms the building block of cells and keeps them plump and healthy, too much sun exposure can cause the formation of free radicals. These are unstable molecules that damage cells down to the molecular level. Even sunburns, which may feel transient and innocuous, are caused due to the breakdown of DNA in some skin cells. This can lead to red, irritated, painful skin.

What should you look for on a sunscreen label?

The Sun Protection Factor (SPF) is the amount of time it would take for you to get deep skincare damage (a sunburn, most often!) if you didn’t have sunscreen on. It filters out a certain percentage of the sun’s UVB rays and blocks them from damaging skin. So an SPF 30 can filter about 93% of UVB rays while SPF 50 can block out nearly 98%! This means that a sunscreen with a SPF 50 rating would keep you protected from UVB rays 50x longer than without. A sunscreen which is broad-spectrum, it contains ingredients that deflect UVA rays, making it a safer pick against all sun damage.

Sunscreens today have an added requirement—it is best if they protect from blue light. Blue light is the ever-pervasive visible light from your phone screens, computers and TVs. This high-energy visible (HEV) light causes changes in your skin cells, causing cell shrinkage and death, leading to pigmentation and a lack of elasticity.

Once you’ve found the SPF number you need (depending on how much sun you’re in, how long you’re going to be out for, and how often you’re willing to reapply), you can choose between a physical and chemical formula. Physical sunscreens are formulated with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, which form a physical barrier on the skin and deflect light. The caveat—they can leave a white cast. The higher you go, the more likely you’ll get a glue-like, gloopy texture. If you’d rather use a chemical sunscreen, you’ll find avobenzone and oxybenzone, which absorb UV rays and break them down.

Can’t pick? Enter today’s hybrid sunscreens—which can combine the elegance of a chemical-active based formula with the broad-spectrum coverage of mineral ingredients. You’ll get a sunscreen that feels comfortable to use, doesn’t get chalky and protects without sensitising. Ultimately though, the best sunscreen is the one you’re ready to wear every single day. You’ll wear it when you’re just binging TV shows in bed. You’ll have it handy when you go on vacation. And you’ll layer it on under makeup when you’re going to brunch. Eventually, sunscreen is at the very crux of your skincare narrative, and it’s saying, loud and clear: apply me, don’t forget about me, and tell all your friends about me too.

We think SPF is the most important part of flawless, glowing skin. If you want to know more about how to pick the right one for you – contact us on WhatsApp!