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SPF Cheatsheet: Everything You Need To Know About Sunscreen

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This comprehensive guide will help you navigate the different types of sunscreen, find the right ingredients for your concerns, and explore the best opinions for every budget.
SPF Cheatsheet: Everything You Need To Know About Sunscreen

In a tropical country with intense heat during the summer, spreading awareness about using and applying sunscreen is non-negotiable. Since 2011, India has been observing National Sunscreen Day on May 27 to promote the use of sunscreen and highlight the importance of protecting your skin from the sun's harmful UVA/UVB rays. Sunscreen protects the skin from sun damage, prevents pigmentation, and has been known to reduce photoaging as per a study. May is also observed as melanoma awareness month globally, and a study proves that regular use of sunscreen can protect you against the three most common skin cancers.

Today, you can also find sunscreens that target other skin concerns and have been formulated to suit different skin types. However, the many categories, types, prices, and formulations can be intimidating when you have one simple question – which sunscreen is the best for my skin? This ultimate cheat sheet is your best bet to find the answer. We’re breaking down the differences between chemical and mineral sunscreens, the different formulas of SPF products, picking the right sunscreen for different skin types, and the best picks for every budget. Scroll on!

Chemical vs Mineral

Mineral (also known as physical) and chemical sunscreens are the two main types of SPF products used to protect the skin from UV rays. While chemical sunscreen is made of organic compounds, mineral sunscreen contains zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. The main difference is that mineral sunscreen reflects UV rays, while chemical sunscreen absorbs rays, converts them to heat, and then releases them from the skin. As mineral sunscreen only penetrates the first layer of the skin, it is less likely to irritate the skin and is recommended for kids and those with sensitive skin. However, mineral sunscreen can leave a residue and white cast, unlike chemical sunscreen with a lightweight texture.

Types Of Sunscreen Formulas

1. Cream

NIVEA Moisturising Sun Lotion SPF 50
NIVEA Moisturising Sun Lotion SPF 50
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Lotion or cream-based sunscreen is the most common formulation and is great for normal to dry skin types. Try the NIVEA Moisturising Sun Lotion with SPF 50 which has a light, non-sticky, and fast-absorbing formula. It is also waterproof and provides instant protection from the sun.

2. Gel

Fixderma Shadow Sunscreen SPF 50+ Gel For Oily Skin Acne Prone UVA UVB PA+++ Protection
Fixderma Shadow Sunscreen SPF 50+ Gel For Oily Skin Acne Prone UVA UVB PA+++ Protection
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Oil-free gel formulas are ideal for oily, acne-prone skin as they provide sun protection without being greasy. We recommend the Fixderma Shadow Sunscreen as it has photostable protectors to reduce signs of ageing for all skin types and the non-comedogenic formula makes it suitable for sensitive skin.

3. Stick

The Derma Co. Hyaluronic Sunscreen Stick with SPF 60 and PA++++ for Easy Reapplication
The Derma Co. Hyaluronic Sunscreen Stick with SPF 60 and PA++++ for Easy Reapplication
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Get on-the-go coverage with stick foundations that are convenient to carry and provide easy application. Fortified with hyaluronic acid and ceramides, it retains moisture and hydrates the skin for a smooth feel. What’s more? It can be used over makeup!

4. Spray

 SunScoop Hydrating Face & Body Fluid Sunscreen Spray, SPF 60 PA++++, Sunscreen for Dry & Oily Skin
SunScoop Hydrating Face & Body Fluid Sunscreen Spray, SPF 60 PA++++, Sunscreen for Dry & Oily Skin
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Sunscreen that can be sprayed allows for even coverage and gets into hard-to-reach areas on your body. Try the SunScoop fluid sunscreen spray, which has a hydrating formula for dry and oily skin and SPF 60 PA++++ for broad-spectrum sun protection.

5. Mousse

The Skin Story Sunscreen Mousse with SPF 15
The Skin Story Sunscreen Mousse with SPF 15
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Want a flawless look? Opt for mousse formulas like The Skin Story Sunscreen which minimises the appearance of large pores and adds a matte finish to the skin. It is suitable for all skin types and is enriched with Vitamin E and Zinc oxide.

Best Sunscreen For Every Budget

1. Under INR 500

UV-Squad Sunscreen Gel Niacinamide & Pro-Ceramides SPF 50 PA+++ for Radiant Skin
UV-Squad Sunscreen Gel Niacinamide & Pro-Ceramides SPF 50 PA+++ for Radiant Skin
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Fortified with niacinamide and pro-ceramides, the UV-Squad Sunscreen Gel will help you achieve radiant skin. The sunscreen has SPF 50 PA+++ and leaves no white cast with its lightweight formula. Along with UVA and UVB, it also protects against blue light.

2. INR 500 to 999

Nykaa SKINRX Ultra Matte Dry Touch Sunscreen SPF 50 PA +++, Matte Finish, No white cast
Nykaa SKINRX Ultra Matte Dry Touch Sunscreen SPF 50 PA +++, Matte Finish, No white cast
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Nykaa SKINRX offers this multi-tasking sunscreen that protects, primes, and brightens your skin. It also lasts for 6 hours and is water and sweat-resistant, making it perfect for outdoor activities in the heat.

3. INR 1,000 to 1,999

CeraVe AM Facial Moisturising Lotion Spf 30, Oil-Free Moisturizer With Sunscreen & Non-Comedogenic
CeraVe AM Facial Moisturising Lotion Spf 30, Oil-Free Moisturizer With Sunscreen & Non-Comedogenic
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This oil-free and non-comedogenic sunscreen from CeraVe is a must-have to moisturise and hydrate your skin every morning. It is filled with the goodness of hyaluronic acid and niacinamide and is gentle on the skin, making it suitable for all skin types.

4. INR 2,000 to 3,999

d'you unkissed Serum Sunscreen SPF 50 & PA++++
d'you unkissed Serum Sunscreen SPF 50 & PA++++
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This Alia Bhatt favourite has found its way into the hearts of many with its lightweight and non-sticky formula. The viral d'you sunscreen creates a patented cool blue screen to protect your skin, blends seamlessly, and leaves a satin-like finish.

5. INR 4,000 to 5,999

Kiehl's Ultra Light Daily UV Defense Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50 PA+++
Kiehl's Ultra Light Daily UV Defense Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50 PA+++
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This lightweight and gentle lotion is perfect for sensitive and acne-prone skin and is slightly tinted to enhance your skin tone. It also helps prevent signs of premature skin ageing like wrinkles and dark spots with ingredients like Vitamin E.

6. INR 5,000 and above

Murad City Skin Age Defense Broad Spectrum SPF 50 I PA ++++
Murad City Skin Age Defense Broad Spectrum SPF 50 I PA ++++
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The viral Murad sunscreen is a 100% mineral sunscreen and shields the skin from the 5 major causes that lead to signs of ageing. It has a polymer matrix that acts as a ‘second skin’ to protect against environmental triggers and helps achieve even skin tone.

Final Thoughts

Before making your choice based on formula and budget, you should also consider the occasion and activities during which you will be wearing the sunscreen. If you will be swimming or foresee chances of contacting water (like during monsoon) opt for a waterproof formula. If you’re attending a party, you must reapply it over makeup or opt for SPF makeup to protect your skin. Click here for more sun protection tips.

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