Sunscreen 101

A Deeper Dive into Topical Sun Care

  • Our skin is our largest organ and it works hard to protect us every day, in many ways. It is so important for us to do our part to support and protect our skin, and daily use of sunscreen along with other suncare steps is crucial as part of our daily skincare routine.
  • UV radiation from sun exposure causes visible damage to our skin and is the #1 factor contributing to the visible signs of aging.
  • Up to 90% of the aging we see in our skin is from UV damage and is known as photoaging. This not only appears as lines, wrinkles, and hyperpigmentation but also enlarged pores, uneven skin tone, and leathery texture, and it can even exacerbate the problems associated with certain skin conditions.
  • Additionally, according to, 99% of non-melanoma and 95% of melanoma skin cancers are caused by too much UV radiation. Preventive measures, like wearing sunscreen daily, are key to protecting your skin.
  • You need sunscreen year-round! Most of the damage to our skin is incidental and just with normal sun exposure throughout our lives. Even on cloudy days 50-80% of the sun’s rays will still penetrate.


Chemical vs. Physical Sunscreen

Esthetician Note: It needs to be stated that EVERYTHING is a chemical, even water. Chemical does not equal harmful or bad.

Chemical FILTER sunscreens refer to ingredients (organic compounds) that absorb into the skin and chemically absorb the UV radiation and disperse it as heat. They act as a filter.

Chemical SPF ingredients have proven to only block certain UV wavelengths, thus multiple ingredients are required to make a formulation broad-spectrum. They are very common in facial SPF products as they generally are lightweight and are invisible upon application. However, some may sting, they can cause irritation, not all are reef-safe, and there is even a wide range as to what ingredients are approved for use globally or are classified as “clean”. 

Physical Sunscreens use mineral compounds, Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide, that sit on the skin and physically block the UV rays from getting to the skin AND absorb and disperse them. These have proven to be highly reliable forms of SPF, are reef-friendly approved, very easy to tolerate, and are even more naturally water-resistant. They are broad-spectrum and block UVA(1&2), UVB, and even UVC rays. It can be hard to find a physical sunscreen for the face that doesn’t leave a white cast and rubs in easily…until NOW!

Fun Fact: It used to be thought that metal oxides were only physical SPF blockers. It is now known that they get their broad-spectrum power from both blocking and absorbing different UV rays.

  • Micronized-non nano zinc is safer and offers higher UVA protection.
  • They are small particles that can be formulated to appear clear on the skin, offer excellent UV protection, but they are not TOO small where they would be problematic.
  • It can be visibly calming and anti-inflammatory, and also help lock in skin moisture by working as a barrier.
  • It can improve the look of breakouts and balance oil.
Zinc oxide is the broadest spectrum UVA and UVB sunscreen filter! As an ingredient working as a skin protectant AND in sunscreens, the max level approved by the FDA is 25%.

Fun Fact: Zinc oxide has been used on the skin for CENTURIES because of its many benefits. We don’t know when it was first used, the oldest recorded use and benefits are believed to be a healing salve in India around 500 BC.

Glycerin = Humectant superstar!!

Did you know that Glycerin is a natural component of healthy skin? While there are so many skin benefits, it is a pro favorite mainly because it hydrates the look of the skin and helps it stay looking moisturized. Because it is a humectant, it binds water in the air and from our skin. It has a small molecule so it is VERY effective at absorbing. It is also collagen-supportive!

Other benefits include:
  • Helping to shield skin from environmental pollutants and aggressors
  • Working with our natural skin barrier and oils to keep the skin looking soft and more supple
  • Supporting our skin’s natural lipid barrier and moisture factor
  • Helping other ingredients absorb
  • Generally helping the skin look for youthful

What level of SPF do I need?

The FDA and the AAD recommend at least an SPF 15, however depending on the local UV rating each day, an SPF 30 is likely essential, so this is the minimum skincare pros generally recommend. They also state that it takes 1-1.5 oz, or enough product to fill up a shot glass, to cover a whole body properly. If you aren’t using enough product it can’t do its job properly. It can take ¼- ½ tsp of sunscreen just for the face and neck.

When used as directed:
  • SPF 15 blocks 93% of UVB rays
  • SPF 30 blocks 97% OF UVB rays
  • SPF 50 blocks 98% of UVB rays
  • SPF 100 blocks 99% of UVB rays
Esthetician Tip: No SPF level can block 100% of UV rays. It is important to note that you do need to reapply sunscreen every 80-90 minutes for full protection.

Sun Protection Factor Meaning (SPF)

Think of the SPF of a formula as a time frame. As shown above, the higher SPF rating can block a small percentage more of overall UVB rays, but more so it means that it increases the time you can be exposed to UV without burning. We all have different skin, so this time is different for each person. An SPF of 40 means that it would take 40 times longer for you to burn in the sun than without any SPF at all. Remember that you still need to reapply your sunscreen regularly during the day.


The PA rating is a newer rating we are seeing in suncare. PA stands for Protection Grade of UVA, and PA+ ratings measure a product’s ability to block UVA rays. Each additional plus (+) on this rating increases the potential amount of UVA protection. This system unfortunately cannot measure precisely the amount of UVA and may vary even by the country doing the rating. Just know that more plusses is a great thing!

A note on TINTS in sunscreen

Tints are from iron oxides in a formulation. Don’t think of them as an ingredient only in makeup though that always gives you coverage. They first help the formula go on without leaving that yucky white cast and allow a high percentage of zinc oxide sunscreen to work for all skin tones. We are also learning more about how they might be the ultimate secret ingredient and sidekick to the mineral UV.

A study published in The Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology confirmed a finding that formulas containing iron oxides were better at preventing UV-related skin pigmentation from the sun, especially in darker skin types. This benefit was even further enhanced when iron oxides were combined with zinc oxide, an often-used mineral. They may also help reduce the visible impact of blue light from screens.

The conclusion: The addition of iron oxides that make a tint not only helps perfect the look of the skin, it may also protect people who struggle with melasma or are more prone to hyperpigmentation and is possibly the best option for those with darker skin.

Why Choose the Glow Pure Tinted Mineral SPF?

This clean, multitasking mineral sunscreen does everything under the sun.
  • Adds an instant glowy look with SPF 40 PA+++ protection
  • Melts into any skin tone for a universal tint with NO white cast
  • Powerful mineral formula protects against UVA & UVB rays
  • Moisturizes the look of skin for a healthy-looking complexion
  • Use bare-faced or with makeup as a protective primer
  • Refines the look of skin and visibly minimizes redness
  • Non-greasy and great for all skin types, even sensitive


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