A Redhead’s Quick Guide to Sunscreen

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Think October is a weird time to write about suncreen? If you’re a redhead, know that suncare is 365 days a year.

As redheads, we’ve got long checklists, especially when it comes to skin care. That means that almost every skin care item, especially moisturizer, has to have an SPF in it. We don’t care if it’s April or August…that sun can get us, even in northern climates. There are lots of brands out there and it’s only recently that people have really started differentiating between physical and chemical suncreens. We all make our own choices here.

Quick lesson:

Chemical sunscreen is what most of us know well. We’re talking Coppertone, Neutrogena and many daily moisturizers with SPF protection. If it’s easy to spread and is waterproof, you can bet it’s chemical. Chemical sunscreens use chemical UV filters (go figure!) They work by absorbing the sun’s rays. Some chemical filters can scatter sun rays, but still mostly just absorb them. They block UVB and UVA rays, hence, they can be called broad spectrum.

Physical sunscreens protect your skin from the sun by deflecting or blocking the sun’s rays. Agents like zinc and titanium dioxide are seen in higher concentrations, and do most of the physical “blocking”. Physical or mineral formulations are often harder to spread, and can leave you feeling greasy and chalky at the same time. You have to reapply more often and only blocks UVB rays are blocked. Brands you might recognize include Elta and Badger.

Whatever you choose, do it wisely. You might have one brand for winter, and switch to something else if you’ll be in more intense sun. Just remember that there is a lot of debate out there about the harmful properties of both physical and chemical ‘screens. Get informed, and make choices that make sense for you, and your budget.

What’s your favourite brand and why? Do you experiment? Let us know!