5 min read

How to Choose the Right Sunscreen for Your Skin?

Portrait of a beautiful woman with shadows of a palm leaf on her face.

In a world where skincare routines are becoming increasingly complex, we at MYSA advocate for simple routines. The minimalist but hyper-effective Swedish Beauty Routine by FOREO is a 3-and-a-half steps approach that uses a handful of meticulously curated products to provide maximum results in only 7 minutes. However, every routine must have one crucial step (no matter how simple or complex it is): sunscreen! SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor and makes all the difference in maintaining healthy and glowing skin. But with so many options available, how do you decide on the best SPF for your skin type, needs, and the changing seasons? Let's break it down.  

Understanding SPF Factors

First and foremost, let's explain what the SPF factor is. SPF measures the sunscreen's ability to protect your skin from UVB and UVB rays, which are ultraviolet radiation that causes sunburn, ages the skin, and contributes to skin cancer. Many myths circle around regarding the number of SPF - no, it does not indicate the time "you have" in the sun, and SPF 30 does not mean it will protect your skin for 30 minutes.  


To clarify, it does have to do with time, but the SPF number indicates how long it will take for UVB rays to redden your skin when using sunscreen compared to not using any sunscreen at all. For instance, if your skin typically burns within 10 minutes of sun exposure without protection, applying an SPF 30 sunscreen extends that time to 300 minutes. But is SPF 30 enough? It's important to note that SPF values are not linear. SPF 15 blocks approximately 93% of UVB rays, while SPF 30 blocks about 97%, and SPF 50 blocks around 98%. The incremental increase in protection is minimal when going beyond SPF 50. 


To answer the question, choosing an SPF between 30 and 50 is generally recommended for proper protection. The last thing to remember is that it takes 15 minutes for the sunscreen to start protecting your skin, meaning if you apply it once you are already exposed to the sun, you risk getting sunburn.  

Different Skin Types (Mean Different Skin Needs)

Selecting SPF is like choosing any other skincare product - your skin type is the deciding factor. Here's what defines each skin type and which SPF to choose:

Dry Skin

Dry skin lacks moisture, and for that reason, it may feel tight or flaky. Choose sunscreens with hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid or glycerin since these SPF formulations offer moisturizing properties to prevent your skin from feeling parched. At the same time, it will protect it from harmful UVB rays. 

Oily or Acne-Prone Skin

These types of skin are prone to excess sebum production, which causes breakouts. Therefore, it is important to look for oil-free, non-comedogenic sunscreens that avoid clogging pores and worsening acne. Look for lightweight, mattifying formulas that also won't leave your skin feeling greasy.

Sensitive Skin

Sensitive skin is easily irritated and reacts much easier to certain ingredients or environmental factors. When deciding on sunscreen, seek out the ones labeled as hypoallergenic and fragrance-free to minimize the risk of any potential irritations.  Physical sunscreens work in a slightly different way than chemical ones. Instead of absorbing UV rays, as chemical sunscreens do, physical sunscreens, also known as mineral sunscreens, create a protective barrier on your skin that reflects the UV rays away. These sunscreens typically contain minerals like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, which are often gentler for sensitive skin than chemical alternatives.

Combination Skin

Combination skin is characterized by oiliness in the T-zone (forehead, nose, and chin) and dryness in other areas. For this skin type, it is best to consider using a broad-spectrum sunscreen that provides both UVA and UVB protection. Look for lightweight, non-greasy formulas that won't intensify oiliness in the T-zone while providing proper hydration to the drier areas.

Aging or Mature Skin

Aging or mature skin may show signs of fine lines and wrinkles, together with the loss of elasticity. Choose sunscreens with added antioxidants like vitamin C or niacinamide to help combat free radical damage and promote collagen production. There are SPF formulations specifically designed to address signs of aging, such as fine lines and wrinkles. These sunscreens may offer additional benefits like hydration and skin-firming properties. By selecting a sunscreen tailored to your specific skin type, you can ensure effective protection against harmful UV rays and tackle your skin's individual needs.  

Seasonal Considerations

Your SPF needs may vary depending on the time of year and based on your geographical location. Here's how to adjust your sun protection routine throughout the main seasons:


During the summer months, when UV radiation is strongest, opt for higher SPF levels and reapply sunscreen every two hours, especially if you're spending extended periods outdoors or in the direct sun. Water-resistant formulas are ideal for beach days or outdoor activities where you may sweat or swim.


Don't let cold temperatures fool you—UV rays can still penetrate clouds and cause sun damage, even on overcast days. They are a hard-to-beat opponent. This means you must incorporate SPF into your daily skincare routine year-round, as snow and ice can reflect sunlight and increase your sunburn risk.

Spring and Fall

As the seasons transition, it's essential to maintain consistent sun protection habits. Even on mild days, UV radiation can still reach your skin and cause damage. Apply sunscreen daily, regardless of the weather forecast.  

Additional Factors to Consider

In addition to SPF level, skin type, and seasonal variations, there are a few additional factors you should keep in mind when choosing the right sunscreen:

Broad-Spectrum Protection

Sunscreens labeled as "broad-spectrum" offer protection against both UVA and UVB rays. And what is the difference? UVA rays have a longer wavelength and are connected with skin aging, while UVB rays have a shorter wavelength and are associated with skin burning. 

Water Resistance

Whether you're sweating or swimming, we suggest you choose a water-resistant sunscreen that will stay put for at least 40 to 80 minutes. Remember, it is the same with regular SPF - reapply regularly, especially after towel-drying or excessive perspiration. The difference is that the regular SPF should be applied every two hours, and this can get confusing. This means that the recommendation to reapply every two hours is primarily for dry use - if you're, say, at the beach and go for a dip; then you need to reapply it after swimming, as the effectiveness of non-water-resistant formulas diminishes in contact with water.

Texture and Application

Find a sunscreen that will incorporate seamlessly into your daily skincare and makeup routine. This depends on whether you prefer a lightweight lotion, hydrating gel, or convenient spray formula; plenty of options are available.

Expiration Date

Last but equally important, always check the expiration date on your sunscreen to ensure its efficacy. Most sunscreens have a shelf life of two to three years, but active ingredients can degrade over time, which can reduce their effectiveness and cause irritations or breakouts.   

How to Apply Sunscreen

Start by applying sunscreen from the center of your face, then gently rub it upwards and outwards instead of simply tapping it on. This guarantees full coverage across your face, including those often overlooked areas like your hairline and jawline. After applying sunscreen, it's important to massage it thoroughly into your skin until it's completely absorbed and no longer visible. You can use a sponge or a brush to apply the sunscreen, but dermatologists recommend using your hands (just a reminder to wash them before touching the face). But don't stop at the face; extend to the neck, ears, and the top of the head if it's exposed to the sun. Lastly, the lips need protection, so consider using a lip balm with an SPF of 30 or higher.  


Remember to apply sunscreen generously and regularly, and always pair it with other sun protection measures like wearing protective clothing, seeking shade, and avoiding peak sun hours when possible.



MYSA user avatar
Simona 23/02/2024

I use korean sunscreens if I'm not going to the beach, then it's a european drugstore one. My skin is combination and the korean ones I use don't clog my pores.

MYSA user avatar
dora 26/02/2024

In reply to by Simona


Dear Simona,

thank you for sharing your routine with us!

We are glad that you find which sunscreen you love and when to use them! Keep sharing your secrets with us!

Kind regards :)


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