Dylan Mustapich is a NYC-based lead esthetician who has been featured in New Beauty, Teen Vogue, Wired, and The Huffington Post. With a lifelong love of all things skin, he is incredibly knowledgeable about skincare ingredients, routine refinement, and personalized skincare, and follows emerging technology closely.
Which sunscreen is best for me? When should I be applying sunscreen? An Esthetician explains proper application and things to look for in your sunscreen.
Choosing the right sunscreen for your skin can be daunting if you’re not a skincare expert. The first and most important thing to keep in mind is that the “best” sunscreen is the one you personally love and will not mind applying (and reapplying) daily. If you don’t like the texture, tint, bottle size, or smell, you probably won’t use it as much as you should. While some skincare products have a tendency to be overused, most people do not apply enough SPF throughout the day.
Of course, using any sunscreen is better than using no sunscreen at all. But if you are looking a layer deeper, here are some aspects you should consider:
- Make sure it offers enough protection (generally SPF 50+), and that it’s broad-spectrum (able to block both UVA and UVB rays).
- Pick a texture/tint that works for you without leaving too much of a white cast or greasy residue.
Ingredient Types: Inorganic & Organic
There are two different types of sunscreen ingredients: inorganic (AKA mineral) and organic (AKA chemical). While much has been said about the differences between these ingredients, they’ve actually been found to function in a more similar fashion than once believed. The bottom line is that most people do well with either type of ingredient. In fact, many sunscreens contain a blend of organic and inorganic ingredients, giving you the best of both worlds.
- Inorganic/Mineral sunscreen ingredients: Zinc, Titanium Dioxide.
- Organic/Chemical sunscreen ingredients: Avobenzone, Octinoxate, Octisalate
How much and when should you apply?
If the sun rises in the morning, apply sunscreen. Barring some apocalyptic event, this means you’ll be applying sunscreen every single day. It doesn’t matter if it's cloudy, what the UV index is, or if you’ll be spending all day indoors. Making sunscreen a daily habit is by far the best thing you can do for your skin. It should be as non-negotiable as brushing your teeth.
When applying sunscreen, you need to make sure you have enough to fully cover your entire face and neck with a thick even layer. This amount varies a bit based on the sunscreen consistency and how much skin you’re covering, but a good rule of thumb is dispensing about a teaspoon's worth. We recommend rubbing in sunscreen as opposed to using a spray to ensure a more even application, especially on the face and neck. Our skin texture has many microscopic peaks and valleys; it's important to focus on spreading it so as to get an even film for the best possible coverage.
When should you reapply?
The golden rule of sunscreen application is every two hours. This is even more important when swimming or sweating heavily. It’s important to keep this in mind when choosing your SPF, as you want one that still feels good and leaves a nice finish after multiple applications.
When deciding which sunscreen is best for you, it really comes down to personal preference. Most people are able to tolerate both inorganic and organic sunscreen ingredients, so that shouldn't be a deciding factor. For many, texture is the main thing they look for in a sunscreen, so it’s important to find a product that feels great on your skin. You really don’t want to compromise when it comes to your sunscreen, and with so many new and innovative options on the market you should be able to find something that you absolutely love and want to use every day.