Screen for the best sunscreen

Screen for the best sunscreen

Not all formulas are created equal, so be discerning when choosing the right protective cream

Published: Thu 30 Jan 2020, 11:30 PM

Last updated: Fri 31 Jan 2020, 1:30 AM

In Baz Luhrman's eternal words:Ladies and Gentlemen of the class of '99 Wear sunscreen

If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it.

These words of wisdom couldn't be more relevant for us, here, in Dubai. But what type? Nothing is ever really that simple anymore. Are you baffled by 'chemical' and 'mineral' sunscreens? Aren't they all chemicals anyway?

In a nutshell, chemical sunscreens use particular chemicals - usually a combination which may include oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and octinoxate to shield your skin by absorbing the UV rays that enter and releasing them as heat. Mineral - also referred to as physical - sunscreens use naturally-shielding ingredients such as zinc and titanium oxide to physically deflect UV rays away from the skin.

So why use one type of sunscreen versus the other? Physical sunscreens naturally offer broad-spectrum protection as they work by blocking the rays entirely. They often last longer and are usually a better choice for sensitive and blemish-prone skin, as their ingredients are less likely to cause a reaction or irritation. On the other hand, their ingredients and thickness means they are more likely to leave a white cast on the skin and are more vulnerable to rubbing off due to physical activity.

Chemical sunscreens are more easily available in the market and tend to be lighter. They usually require a 15 to 20-minute wait period before they can begin to work. However, they do not last as long on the skin and can also be pore-clogging for some skin types and cause irritation - the risk of which increases with higher SPF. The broadest and highest coverage formulae are usually the most irritating due to the combination of chemicals required to achieve that level of protection.

If you are conscious about what chemicals go into your sunscreen, it is important to bear in mind that not all chemical formulas are created equal and some are safer to use than others. We recommend you check the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep Cosmetics Database which rates skincare ingredients based on their potential toxicity. You can also check our all-time favourite skincare reference tool, CosDNA's Ingredients Analysis, which allows you to paste any product's ingredients list into the box to list their acne, irritation and toxicity rating.
Does your hair need sun protection?
The short answer is yes. As part of your orientation to life in Dubai (or any other city in the Arabian Gulf), the conversation on hair loss and its main culprit, tap water, is bound to come up. As part of that dialogue, we will address the pesky business of dry and lifeless hair due to sun exposure. A day at the beach should not involve a head of straw!

Just like unprotected skin, your hair and scalp can get burnt, too. Exposure to UV rays damages the hair as much as it does our skin. The reason hair feels particularly dry over the summer months (in our case, always!) is because UV rays burn the inside and outside layers of the hair follicle, resulting in brittle and lifeless ends - which is never a great look. Additionally, the combination of water, salt, heat and the fiery touch of sun rays can leave hair especially dry, brittle and - if you have colour-treated strands - faded. When hair is exposed to water, the negative effects of free radicals are amplified. The hair shaft is considerably weaker when wet and far more susceptible to UV rays.

Don't let your hair pay the price of your sun indulgence - simply wearing a wide-brimmed hat or a lightweight silk scarf styled into a chic turban should do the trick; otherwise, consider investing in products that include UV filters to minimise sun and environmental damage. Protecting your hair should feel as natural as protecting your skin.
Amina Grimen Cofounder,

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