Sunscreen 101

My favorite sunscreens Heliocare Clinique
My favorite sunscreens

In the past 2 years I have tried many different sunscreens, from chemical to mineral. After getting so into skincare (read this post) I realized that wearing sunscreen everyday is not only necessary to protect your skin from the dangerous UV rays, but also because it prevents premature aging and cuts the risk of getting skin cancer in half, helps maintain an even skin tone and heal acne.

Why should you wear sunscreen everyday?

aliciasimonic portrait

Most of the people only think about applying sunscreen when on vacation or in the summer. The truth is, UVA rays have the same intensity during summer and winter, while UVB rays are the one that cause sunburn. 80% of the UV rays can penetrate through the clouds, so only wearing sunscreen on sunny days is not enough. Also, UVA rays can penetrate through glass so wearing your sunscreen inside is also important. Now excuses like – “Oh, I’m just going to work, I’ll be inside all day.” don’t work anymore.

UVB ray intensity varies from summer to winter, the strongest in winter and the weakest in summer.

But UVA rays penetrate deeper into our skin, which causes aging and skin cancer. The damage caused by UVA rays is irreversible so we must wear sunscreen daily to protect ourselves from these risks.

When to apply and reapply sunscreen? And how much?

wearing suncreen in winter and in summer
wearing sunscreen in winter and in summer can be beneficial for your skin and prevent premature ageing

I always apply sunscreen in the morning, after my skincare. I finish my skincare with a moisturizer so I just layer it on top. I wait about 10 minutes before applying my makeup (while making some breakfast and coffee) just so it completely settles into my skin and my foundation doesn’t get mixed with it – therefore it doesn’t affect the effectiveness of the sunscreen.

How much should you apply? To achieve the sun protection you should be using two milligrams of sunscreen per square centimeter of skin. To explain it simply – you need about 1/2 of a teaspoon for your face, neck, ears and each of your arms, 1 ts for each leg, back, chest and abdomen. And all together, you should use about 6 full teaspoons for your entire body.

The ideal reapplication time is every 2 hours. If you’re wearing makeup it can be quite difficult to re-apply it over your foundation, but it can be done. Thanks to the ever-evolving skincare market, you can now reapply you sunscreen by using a spf setting powder or a spf spray.

Source – BBC

Different types of sunscreen

I already mentioned that there are two different types of sunscreen – chemical and mineral. Here are the main differences and the pros and cons.

Chemical sunscreen

Chemical sunscreens contain chemicals that absorb the UV rays. They normally include formulas like oxybenzone, octinoxate, octisalate and avobenzone. These formulas work by absorbing themselves into skin and then absorbing the UV rays, turning them into heat and releasing them from the body with heat. These are the most common sunscreens that you can find everywhere. They layer nicely on the skin and don’t leave a white cast, but are normally more oily and toxic to the environment.


-thinner and spreads more easily on the skin

-less product needed to protect the skin

-easier to use with other products (it layers more nicely over skincare)


-increased risk of irritation if it comes in contact with the eyes or sensitive skin

-more ingredients are required for both UVA and UVB protection (longer ingredient list = increased risk of irritation and discomfort)

-becomes effective only 20min after application (not immediately)

-can clog pores and increase breakouts

-mostly toxic for the environment

-can cause endocrine disruption (effect your hormones)


FDA researchers report that multiple active ingredients found in sunscreens find their way into the bloodstream and recommend toxicology testing to investigate the clinical significance of these findings. A recent study investigated the plasma concentration of sunscreen active ingredients after application in maximal use conditions.

 In the study, 24 healthy volunteers applied one of four sunscreens on 75 percent of their skin, four times daily for four days. Four active ingredients were measured for blood concentration: avobenzone, oxybenzone, octocrylene, and ecamsule. All four ingredients exceeded the 0.5 ng/mL threshold limit after just one day of use. In some formulations, oxybenzone maximum plasma levels were recorded at concentrations over 200 ng/mL.

Meaning that some ingredients in chemical sunscreen can cause hormonal imbalances and be potentially harmful to our health, especially when using the sunscreen everyday.

Mineral / physical sunscreen

Mineral or also known as physical sunscreens contain mineral based ingredients, like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, to block UV rays. Physical sunscreens work by staying on top of the skin to deflect and scatter damaging UV rays away from the skin like tiny mirrors. Some tend to have a white-ish cast which can be visible on the skin and can be hard to layer under makeup or over some skincare.


-protection from both UVA and UVB rays

-immediate protection (no need to wait)

-less likely to irritate skin

-long shelf life


-can rub of more easily (more frequent application is required)

-can appear white on the skin (and cause flashback in photos)

-can feel heavy under makeup

-needs to be generously applied to be fully effective

The mineral sunscreens containing zinc oxide and titanium dioxide have enough safety data to be designated as safe and effective by the FDA, partly due to not being absorbed through the skin and entering the bloodstream.

source: Southeastern Dermatology and Thorne

Is sunscreen bad for the environment?

Source: National Ocean Service

Didi you ever notice a slick of oil on top of the waves, just gliding through the sea and shimmering in the sun? That’s sunscreen and it’s damaging our oceans.

The main formula oxybenzone, which is found in chemical sunscreens, is one of the reasons why corals are disappearing. For example, the dead corals are more common in the popular touristy areas of the Bahamas, while less-touristy waters of the Caribbean still still have healthy reefs.

Other toxic ingredients found in sunscreen are Oxybenzone, Benzophenone-1, Benzophenone-8, OD-PABA, 4-Methylbenzylidene camphor, 3-Benzylidene camphor, nano-Titanium dioxide and nano-Zinc oxide. They affect marine life by causing defects, decrease fertility, damage immune and reproductive systems, and cause coral bleaching and even kill the corals.

source: National Ocean Service

My favorites

From trying tons of cheap chemical sunscreens to switching to a bit more pricey mineral sunscreens – here are my favorites.

CLINIQUE SPF 30 Mineral Sunscreen Lotion *For Body*

CLINIQUE SPF 30 Mineral Sunscreen Lotion
CLINIQUE SPF 30 Mineral Sunscreen Lotion

I recently purchased this Clinique sunscreen due to its amazing ingredient list and good reviews. Its active ingredients are Titanium Dioxide 3.2% and Zinc Oxide 2.0% which are both mineral filters that are not harmful to us or the environment. The only bad things is that is contains Phenoxyethanol
which is a fragrance, but it’s only a moderate safety risk. It’s easy to apply, it almost feels like a chemical sunscreen and it doesn’t leave a white cast on your face. I buy the 125ml body version because the 30ml face version is practically the same price and texture.

Price: 24,90 / 125ml

Reef safe: ✔

Overall rating: ★★★★★

Heliocare 360° Mineral Tolerance Fluid SPF 50

Heliocare 360° Mineral Tolerance Fluid SPF 50
Heliocare 360° Mineral Tolerance Fluid SPF 50

Another really good mineral sunscreen from a spanish brand Heliocare that doesn’t leave a white cast on your face. It had a slight tint but so far I haven’t noticed any staining on my clothes by this. Its active ingredients are Titanium Oxide and Zinc Oxide, but it contains Oleyl Alcohol, which can be bad for oily skin and can cause clogged pores and also Aluminum Oxide which (as some studies show) can be linked to hormonal imbalances.

Price: 22,90€ / 50ml

Reef safe: ✔

Overall rating: ★★★★☆

Heliocare 360° Mineral Fluid SPF 50

Heliocare 360° Mineral Tolerance Fluid SPF 50
Heliocare 360° Mineral Tolerance Fluid SPF 50 (on the right)

Quite similar to the previous sunscreen, just that it doesn’t have a tint and appears a bit more white on the skin. Its active ingredients are Titanium Oxide and Zinc Oxide as well. This one contains Oleyl Alcohol as well and also Stearic Acid which can trigger fungal acne, is bad for oily skin and can be comedogenic also Aluminum Oxide which (as some studies show) can be linked to hormonal imbalances.

Price: 20,90€ / 50ml

Reef safe: ✔

Overall rating: ★★★★☆

Caudalíe Anti-wrinkle Face Suncare SPF 30

This is a chemical sunscreen with Titanium Dioxide as its main active ingredient. It also contains some anti-ageing ingredients such as Citric Acid (not good for sensitive skin – can be irritating) and Vitamin E and has a soft smell of grapes. It’s perfect for dry skin because of the glycerin, but not the best for acne prone skin because of Cocoa Seed Butter which can be comedogenic. The formula is biodegradable and non-toxic for the marine ecosystem. It’s a great alternative if you don’t like mineral sunscreens but you still want to be more conscious to the environment.

Price: 19,00€ / 50ml

Reef safe: ✔

Overall rating: ★★★☆☆

BONUS Clinique Sun Mineral compact powder SPF 30

Clinique Sun SPF 30 Mineral Powder Makeup for face
Clinique Sun SPF 30 Mineral Powder Makeup for face

A great way to retouch your makeup on the go and also re-apply your sunscreen. It has a matte finish which makes it perfect for oily skin and it’s also sweat and humidity resistant. It’s oil free and it comes in 4 different shades.

Thank you for reading this blog post. I hope I convinced you to start wearing sunscreen at least a bit more often – if not everyday! Check back for new posts and follow me on instagram for more!


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