Pick the right SPF based on your skin type


When it comes to sunscreens there are a lot of questions and options. The effectiveness of sun-protection products is measured by SPF (Sun Protection Factor), though rather than being an indication of a specific amount of protection, SPF is a measure of how long it will take skin to redden when using the product compared to how long it takes to redden without the product. If you use a sunscreen with an SPF of 15, for example, your skin will take fifteen times longer to burn than it would without the protection. It doesn’t mean that SPF 30 gives double the protection of SPF 15: an SPF 15 product screens ninety-three percent of the sun’s UVB rays, SPF 30 protects against ninety-seven percent, and SPF 50 screens ninety-eight percent. Now that we’ve done the maths, let’s take a look at the best one for you based on your skin type.


SPFS for Normal Skin

Sun protection comes in two basic categories – physical and chemical.

Both physical and chemical sunscreens are effective at providing sun protection, but they differ in the way they work. Chemical sunscreens absorb UV rays while physical sunscreens deflect or block the sun’s rays. One advantage of physical sunscreens is that they form a barrier on your skin and therefore start working immediately. Chemical sunscreens, on the other hand, must be applied at least 20 minutes before exposure to the sun.

But you’ve won the sunscreen jackpot and you could base your choice purely on whether you prefer a cream or gel or the heaviness of the products texture. Just remember that if you spending a long time in the sun, you need to upgrade from SPF 30 to at least 50 and reapply every two hours.


Our recommendations:

IQ Daily Defence. SPF 30, R 114,95

NIVEA Sun Protect & Refresh Invisible Cooling Spray SPF50, R174,99

Placecol Sun Protection Spray, R285

Clarins UV PLUS SPF 50 Anti-Pollution Sunscreen, R415


SPFS for sensitive skin

Sensitive skins (allergy-prone skin or conditions such as acne or rosacea) might react more to certain chemical sunscreens, in which case a physical sunscreen might be the better option. Zinc oxide, in particular, is very effective at soothing skin prone to irritation. Those with a preference towards reducing the chemical load on their skin might also be drawn to physical sunscreens. These sunscreens do, however, have a distinct downside. The mineral actives can leave a white tint on your skin, especially the titanium oxide formulations. On the upside, the more advanced mineral formulations have micronised the mineral particles in these products thereby reducing this tendency. Also look for hypoallergenic and fragrance-free sunblocks and those with allergy prone or rosacea should also avoid sunscreens containing alcohol.


Our recommendations:

Cetaphil UVA/UVB SPF50, R179,95

TheraVine Sun Defence SPF 30, R189

La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL Comfort Cream SPF50+, R250

diego dalla palma Protective Sun Cream – sensitive skins SPF50, R575


SPFS for oily skin

If you have oily skin, you’ve more than likely suffered a breakout from an SPF at some point. Acne-prone and oily skins are particularly partial to these breakouts because many SPF lotions have a thick, greasy consistency that clogs the pores, leading to breakouts or further irritation to existing blemishes. Look for the term “non-comedogenic” on the packaging. This simply means that the product has been designed not to clog your pores, so you’ll probably find it’s lighter and more absorbent than other SPFs.

Look for sheer or gel based consistencies that dry down to a matte finish. They’re particularly good candidates if they are water-based. Avoid products that are high in fatty acids or plant oils – though these are beneficial to certain skin types, they’ll leave your oily skin shiny.

Don’t be tempted to skip the sunscreen, research has shown that scars (acne or other) and pigmentation can worsen in appearance when exposed to the sun, so use a high factor, good quality product.


Our recommendations:

Bionike Acteen Sun Protection 50+, R129,95

Eucerin Sun Gel-Crème Oil Control Dry Touch Face SPF50+, R199,99

Heliocare SPF 50 UVA/UVB Gel, R339

Nanoskin Technology Solar Face Protection, R390


SPFS for dry skin

Chemical and mineral sunscreens work equally well for those with dry skin; look for a hydrating lotion or cream-based formula. Dry skin can benefit from lanolin, oils and silicones such as dimethicone that are found in moisturising sunscreens. Moisturising sunscreens are often formulated as creams, lotions, or ointments, so look for these terms on the label.


Our recommendations:

Lipidol Sunscreen Oil (SPF 20), R79,95

NIVEA Sun Protect and Moisture Moisturising Sun Spray SPF 50+, R189,99

Environ Sun Care RAD SPF15, R224

Ordinary Skincare Day Cream SPF30, R302


SPFS for children’s skin

The best protection for kids is shade, that’s why some dermatologists recommend that you never expose babies and toddlers up to three years old to long-term, direct sunlight. But for some, that’s about as possible as getting them to sit still long enough to apply any sunscreen at all.

Be careful of your choice of product as chemicals like PABA and oxybenzone can irritate children’s sensitive skin. Opt for a physical sunscreen which contains zinc and titanium. Some mums have a better experience using a sun spray or a stick. Remember that a spray sunscreen should not really be applied directly to the face; rather misted into your hands, then spread on their faces. And never forget the sunhat.


Our recommendations:

Avon Kids Swim & Protect Sun Lotion SPF 50, R135

Techniblock Kids SPF50+ Sun Protection Spray, R139,95

NIVEA Sun Kids Swim & Play Sun Lotion SPF 50+, R164,99

Vichy SPF 50 Milk Protection for Children, R315


Other articles you may be interested in:
4 Mistakes you might be making with sunscreen
12 Self-tanners that work
How effective is ingestible sunscreen and SPF products?


12 Responses

  1. I only use the Techniblock SPF 50 range, especially their anti ageing face cream. So light and easy to use even under make up. Helped me to lighten pigmentation from sun exposure and really affordable compared to other import brands.

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