PA? PPD? Broad Spectrum? The ultimate guide to understanding and choosing the best sunscreen

Written by Jenny Wu
Jenny Wu

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  1. Cassandra says:

    I’ve been reading all of your sunscreen content! I am an avid user of Yuka but am struggling to find an all-around great sunscreen than Yuka approves of! It seems like there’s so many choices. My skin is pretty normal, not too dry or oily. I’m just looking for something for everyday wear. What would you recommend? Thanks!!

    • Jenny says:

      Hi Cassandra, I don’t have the Yuka app, but from what I can see they use a similar grading scale to EWG, which means you’re either going to sacrifice great UVA/UVB protection and/or an elegant texture/finish if you want the sunscreen to fit Yuka’s criteria. The sunscreens I recommend are either European (eg. La Roche-Posay, not their US formula) or Korean/Japanese, but I doubt Yuka will approve of any of them. I have a sunscreen database that you may find helpful, you get free access as soon as you sign up for my newsletter :)

  2. Charity says:


    Thank you for this extensive explanation on sun protection. Finally made sense of why I tanned at times despite wearing sunscreen.

    Would you happen to know the PPD of Bioderma Photoderm M SPF 50+ Golden tint? I know it has a UVA seal and PA++++ on the box (so PPD is at least 16), but would like to know an exact figure for their PPD, if possible.
    This is the one I’m referring to btw:

    It’s got filters such as Titanium Dioxide (Nano), Uvinul A Plus, Tinosorb M (Nano), Tinosorb S, and Diethylhexyl Butamido Triazone.

    Thank you.

  3. Ben says:

    Thank you so much for presenting all this information in this way! I’m so curious to know how La Roche-Posay’s new UVMUNE 400 formula stacks up

  4. Grace says:

    Hi Jenny,
    thank you for sharing this very informative article. I love the Scinic SPF50 as per your recommendation. Anyway, my question is, if I want to use a primer for my foundation should it be applied after sunscreen?

    Keep up the good work.

  5. This is such a wonderful guide on Sunscreen, thanks for posting it.

  6. Megan says:

    Are you aware of anyone having done one of these fancy tests on Hado Labo UV White Gel (SPF50 PA++++)? To see if it’s actually giving the level of protection you would think on the basis of the label, particularly for UVA?

  7. Maria says:

    The most detailed article I’ve ever read about sun protection! Thank you :)
    Do you have an opinion about the compact sun protection powders by Uriage and Bioderma? They don’t state the percentage of the titanium dioxide and zinc oxide so I can’t I can’t use the sunscreen simulator :/

    • Jenny says:

      Thank you for reading! Unfortunately I have not tried those, but my experience with other compact spf powders is that it starts looking cakey if I apply too much, but if I don’t I worry if I’m getting enough protection. So I’m ended up just using mine for touch up!

  8. Jeffrey Rivera says:

    What’s the general UVA & UVB wavelengths covered by UPF 50+ clothing brands, such as from Coolibar & Baleaf? PPD rating for UPF 50+ clothing? Have you heard of/tried the Skin Aqua Rohto Newer Model Super Moisture Gel Pump 140g – SPF50+/PA++++, and any information you might have about it’s PPD rating and if it’s PA rating has been tested? Tysm for your time and stay safe :)

  9. Jeffrey Rivera says:

    Hi there. Concerning the UVB wavelengths around 290-320nm & the UVA UVA are long-spectrum rays with wavelengths from 320-400 nm, what UVA & UVB ranges do most UPF 50+ clothing brands cover, in terms of the wavelengths of UVA & UVB? Have you had any experience or any thoughts with an Australian UPF clothing brand known as Coolibar or Baleaf? Their on Amazon, and while Coolibar is a little more pricey, it has protected my skin very well :). One final question for you (sorry I’m so just very passionate about proper sun protection and all of that just like you, so I’m always trying to learn as much as possible in order to be as sun smart as possible, indoors & outdoors), what are your thoughts on the Skin Aqua Rohto Newer Model Super Moisture Gel Pump 140g – SPF50+/PA++++, and anything you might know more specifically about it’s PA & PPD rating? Thanks so much for your time, really enjoyed reading your post, & most importantly – stay safe :)

    • Jenny says:

      Hi Jeffrey, I’m actually not too familiar with sun protection clothing but after a quick search it seems they use a different measurement – UPF, which measures both UVA and UVB penetration rates. I also haven’t tried the new Skin Aqua sunscreen, but according to its product description it’s meant for everyday normal activities. So if you plan to be outdoors all day, I’d definitely use something else instead! Hope this helps and thanks for reading!

  10. Amira says:

    Very helpful post but how do we use the sunscreen simulator when most sunscreens don’t mention the percentage of the uv filters?

    • Jenny says:

      US sunscreens are required to list the filters %, and for other brands you can check cosdna, sometimes people list the % there. You can also email the brand to see if they’ll provide the info, but you’re right, without the % you won’t be able to use the simulator.

  11. Justine says:

    Hi Jenny,

    Thanks for writing this guide on sunscreens! I’m in Taipei right now and as someone who absolutely does not sweat gracefully like most Asians – I’ve been drenched in sweat for the last few days with literal beads dripping down my nose – I really need a sport level sunscreen like the Anthelios. Do you know where I can find the Anthelios sunscreens in store? My Shiseido Anessa has let me down – I have definitely tanned to my dismay – and I don’t have high hopes for the Biore UV Perfect Milk that I just bought. I haven’t seen any though in any of the Watsons, Poyas, or Cosmeds I’ve been to.

    Thanks again for your blog! It’s wonderful to find an English-language blog about Taiwanese fashion and beauty.

    • Jenny says:

      Hi Justine, thanks for reading my blog and glad you find it helpful! La Roche Posay in Taiwan is kinda weird in that they’re sold in pharmacies and clinics only. Their official site has a list of all the stores that carry their products, as well as official online distributors:
      Hope this helps!

      • Justine Wang says:

        Hi Jenny,

        Thanks for responding so quickly to my sunscreen crisis! I visited the SOGO stores in Da’An and didn’t see it. It looks like the closest option under “flagship stores” is the Zheng Kang Le Ju in the Zhongzheng district. Fingers crossed, because the third option is in Chiyi.

        Hopefully online shopping won’t be too difficult. I’m not sure how receiving packages when not home works here in Taipei.

        • Jenny says:

          Ah so they’re actually not sold in Sogo, I think the one listed under flagship stores is referring to the location, and it’s in Taichung. There are several pharmacies in Da An district that carry their stuff, you can just the drop down to display those stores :)

          As for shipping when no one is home, if there’s a front desk/security guard in your building they’ll leave the package with them, and you can pick it up when you get home. Or another option that’s available on a lot of sites is to have them ship to your closest convenience store and you just pick it up there!

        • Justine Wang says:

          Sort of success? None of the clinics or the 正康樂局 in Neihu have the La Roche Posay Anthelios XL versions. The best I could find of the stores I visited were the La Roche Posay Uvidea XL Melt-in Cream 50 PA++++ (a clinic in Da’An) and the La Roche Posay Anthelios 50+ Shaka Fluid. I hoping to find the heavy duty La Roche Posay Anthelios XL that you recommend in your outdoor sunscreen post – I sweat rivers.

          Now that I think about it, I think they did have the La Roche Posay Anthelios XL in the spray bottle form. I passed it up yesterday because I distrust spray bottles (I can’t tell if I apply enough with them), but I think I’m going to go ahead and purchase those. I have to go back to the store because I left my credit card there anyway.

          If all else fails and I can’t find the La Roche Posay Anthelios XL here in Taipei, then there’s always the internet.

          Thanks for the speedy responses, Jenny! I really appreciate it.

        • Jenny says:

          Ahh I think the 50+ Shaka Fluid is the updated version of the Anthelios XL, the packaging is very similar too! I haven’t tried it yet myself but from the website they seem to have improved the formula too! I’ll update my post with this info to to avoid any confusion, sorry about that!

  12. Byron says:

    Hi Jenny, this article is amazing, so thank you! I have just one question that I hope you can answer.

    I’ve been looking around for different places to get La Roche Posay Anthelios XL SPF50+ Comfort, and I keep coming across something that is more readily available in the USA (where I am) and that seems very similar: Anthelios XL Ultra Sensitive Eyes Innovation Cream SPF 50.

    One website indicated that the two creams are the same but just with different names, and La Roche’s website kind of implied(?) that the Ultra Sensitive Eyes cream has fewer ingredients, maybe? Below are links to the creams on La Roche’s website, but the ingredients aren’t actually listed. The Sensitive Eyes version is much easier and cheaper for me to get. But if it’s not as good, I’ll go for the good stuff!

    Thank you again, for your boundless dermatological wisdom.

  13. Andrew says:

    Dear Jenny,

    Thank you for such an informative post. What are your thoughts on The Ordinary sun-care range and Ultrasun? I am always hesitant when I see ‘once a day’ sunscreen.

    • Jenny says:

      Hi Andrew, I took a look at TO’s sun care range, and the SPF30 sounds like it could be a decent everyday sunscreen if you prefer physical filters. Unfortunately they didn’t list the zinc oxide % so there’s no way to even guess the level of UVA protection. This is my first time hearing of Ultrasun and I’m not sure what they mean by once-a-day sunscreen, but their filters are much better than TO’s. They use next generation UV filters that are stable and protect against UVB and UVA rays, plus they provide UVA ratings on the bottle (PA++++ for SPF50). Just looking at ingredients alone I’d pick Ultrasun, but of course there are other factors like texture and finish that are important as well. Hope this helps!

      • Andrew says:

        The Ordinary is a great skincare brand but I think I will wait and see what other reviewers think of their sun-care range before purchasing.

        After reading your posts, and watching several videos by Dr Davin Lim, I ordered several bottles of the La Roche-Posay Anthelios Shaka Ultra-Light Facial Sun Cream SPF50 50ML and its great. Also, thankfully, Escentual have 1/3 off the RRP. The only reason why I am now looking at the Ultrasun range is their ‘once a day’ statement. It would be most convenient if I only needed to apply sunscreen once a day in the morning. Also, they have an SPF50+ facial fluid that offers anti-pollution! My only doubt is to whether this will offer me the same level of protection as the La Roche Posay Shaka Ultra Light I now apply multiple times a day. Based on the ingredients listed, is one product (LRP UL) better than the other (Ultrasun)?

        Sorry to trouble you again and many thanks for your advice.

        • Jenny says:

          So glad to hear that you like the La Roche Posay! From the ingredients I do prefer LRP just because of their patented Mexoryl SX and XL, but Ultrasun’s look pretty good too. However I doubt you can get the same level of protection from Ultrasun if you’re not reapplying, especially when outdoors. I think if you’re using it on days when you’re mostly indoors, you might be able to get away with applying just once, but I definitely recommend reapplying if you’ll be outdoors all day!

  14. Derek Mendonca says:


    Your article is one of the best I’ve read in a long time, so thank you for this. A quick question then. I’ve read that chemical sunscreens turn energy from the light into heat on the skin.. which in turn lends itself to create pigmentation. Is this true?

    Lastly, independent reports in Australia, US and UK indicated that they could not recommend one mineral sunscreen where zinc oxide and titanium dioxide were the only actives, as they failed to provide the spf as indicated
    Now I’m confused. Please advise.

    Anticipated thanks


    • Jenny says:

      Thank you! It’s true that chemical filters work by absorbing the UV rays and release the energy as heat, I’m not sure if it’s enough heat to cause inflammations, which would then lead to pigmentation. A lot of sunscreens now are also formulated with soothing and anti-inflammatory ingredients, which should further protect the skin, so I think as long as you select a well-formulated sunscreen, you should be ok.

      As for zinc oxide/titanium dioxide, while i haven’t seen those reports, I think generally physical sunscreens just aren’t as strong as chemical ones, because it’s hard to create elegant formulas with physical filters. Also I don’t believe any testing is required to show that sunscreens provide the labeled protection (which is unfortunate), so I can see how many fail to live up to their claims. Granted if a sunscreen that’s labeled as SPF50 only came to contain protection for SPF30, that is still good enough for daily use, as long as you apply the correct amount. Personally I wouldn’t rely on physical sunscreens for outdoor activities, just to be on the safe side.

  15. Jackie says:

    Hi there love love love this blog! I haven’t ever found such a comprehensive review on uva in Sunscreens with extra added tidbits of sunscreen wisdom in haha. I follow labmuffin though and I’m surprised your blog went a little over her stuff :). Good work! The only one thing I reckon would be inaccurate is the sunscreen absorption stuff. Apparently most things don’t absorb into deeper levels of skin that easily. Even nano particles have studies showing that they likely only go into the upper levels of skin. Anyway, should absorption not only be dangerous if the ingredient is dangerous (worst offenders are avobenzone I think, and another one I can’t recall), thereby the other chemicals are fine (assuming they do absorb into deeper skin levels and somehow enter the blood (unlikely, according to studies).

    All this induces anxiety am I right lol.. Use sunscreen, fear potential absorption ans cancer. Don’t use it, fear cancer. An interesting topic all in all though!

    • Jenny says:

      Hi Jackie! Thanks for reading and the lovely comments! Ok, so about the absorption stuff, this was information I got from reading the blog posts and watching interviews from Dr. Chiu, who also happened to be the one that did all these tests on the sunscreens. Now that I’m going back through what I wrote, I’m going to remove the bit about disrupting hormones as that’s not the concern here, but rather absorption at the upper level that could potentially lead to sensitivities/irritations. Thank you for pointing this out!

    • Jackie says:

      And also, the spritz tests seem to suggest that the sunscreen has an occlusive layer to it (waterproof/oily), I’m not sure if that means non absorption. Feel free to prove me wrong! Havent done science in a decade. PS all studies I mentioned are from labmuffins blogs/videos.

      • Jenny says:

        Yep, so according to Dr. Chiu, the film-forming agent that gives sunscreen their water-proof/resistant ability can also prevent the chemicals from absorbing into the upper levels. He didn’t really go into why that’s the case and I can only speculate that these ingredients form a sort of barrier between the filters and the skin? Sorry, I wish I had a more scientific explanation for this one!

      • Jackie says:

        OMG. All these afterthoughts. Sorry for polluting your nice blog with comment on comment stacking Hahah. But I’m wondering also what your thoughts are on the alcohol content in anthelios? I’ve heard nothing but good but the alcohol thing turns me off. I’ve got dry skin and all that older fearmongering about alcohol got to me, and how it’s an ingredient that like damages or thins the skin barrier so as to get active or nourishing ingredients in (hence why often high in the ingredients list in some Korean face masks Eg innisfree, used to be high in western toners/serums)

        • Jenny says:

          Haha, no worries! I personally try to avoid alcohol when I can, but since the sunscreen is the last step in my routine and the LRP one is supposed to be “absorption-proof”, I’m ok with alcohol being there. For me sun damage > potential alcohol damage, so it’s a tradeoff I’m willing to make. The sunscreen itself also isn’t drying by any means and and honestly I didn’t even realize it contained alcohol until you mentioned it!

  16. Jaclyn says:

    Great write-up! I currently use Boots UK’s Soltan sunscreens, which all have 5-star boots ratings. I find it hard to believe they’re more UVA-protective than the major famous brands like La Roche Posay and Bioderma. Now I’m regretting my new La Roche Posay purchase that’s in the mail. Especially since the 5 star Soltan one I use most only has Avobenzone and Tinosorb S as its UVA filters (whereas LRP uses both of these plus Mexoryl). What’s the deal there?

    • Jenny says:

      Hi Jaclyn, I’ve never tried that sunscreen so I can’t say for sure, but the Boots Star rating is only one method of UVA protection calculation, and based on independent tests on other sunscreens, we know that these ratings aren’t always accurate. However, that’s not to say it has poor UVA protection, Tinosorb S is a great UVA filter, and it helps stabilizes Avobenzone. If it’s helping prevent tans and burns, I’d say it should be at least good for everyday use!

  17. Shirley says:

    Just tried the water test on both my suncreams (avene anti ageing and sunsense ultra)that i use religiously even in winter and i live in Scotland im ust somewhat sun cream obsessed, and both passed the test. Every year I do loads of web searches for sun cream and always stick with what I use and love. A very interesting post

    • Jenny says:

      That’s great news! A sunscreen is only as good as the frequency you apply it, so if you find one you love wearing definitely stick to it!

  18. Tara says:

    This was a handy guide, so thank you for writing this! I’d been wondering what PA is, and now I know ^^;;; I will definitely try that water spritz test on the sunscreen I have!

  19. Marina Rosie says:

    Okay so I know I’m stalking your blog (it’s obvious because I’m literally so late on this post) but this has been bookmarked and will really help me as it starts to get hot because I know absolutely NOTHING about suncare products and I just slap any old thing on! However, lately I’ve been using some really good ones from Anne Marie Borlind (trust me, worth checking out) and they seem to be doing the job but, in future, I’ll be checking out that ingredients list! xxx
    Marina xx

  20. Amy says:

    Thank you for this post! I’ve bookmarked it as it’s so useful. I went to see a Harley St dermatologist with my friend (her appointment, I tagged along) and she was so passionate about SPF. It made me realise I’ve been silly throughout the years. Where I live it’s rarely sunny so I thought I could get away with it. I now wear it a lot more although still not as much as I should. Your post has reminded me I need to wear it daily and settle on a good one which works for me.

    • Jenny says:

      Thanks so much Amy, and so glad to hear you found it helpful! I used to think I could get away without sunscreen on cloudy days too, but my dark spots are proof that’s not the case!

  21. Lorna says:

    This is so informative! WOW! I never knew anything about sun cream other than picking a high factor!

    Raindrops of Sapphire

  22. Best, most well written, in-depth post about sunscreen that I have ever read, thank you so much for taking the time to explain everything, Jenny! I’m planning to buy a new sunscreen for my face soon but no idea what to buy, Naruko SPF50 or La Roche Posay or something else that you can recommend?

    • Jenny says:

      Eee thanks so much for the kind comment Shireen!! I know you mentioned on IG that you already got the Naruko, and I do think it’s still a good sunscreen for everyday use when you won’t be in the sun much. LRP (and now Avene) would still be my top choice for days when I’m out and about, so I like to have both just in case :P

  23. Hannah says:

    This is really helpful! I tend to get a little confused on whats what, but this clears everything up!xx

    Hannah | luxuryblush

  24. Kay says:

    Wow, this might just be the best guide on sunscreen that I’ve ever seen! It’s packed with so much useful information, easy to read and I really like the graphics you used. :) I am nowhere near knowledgeable enough when it comes to sun protection, so this article is definitely very handy! Thank you for putting it together for us. <3 xoxo


    • Jenny says:

      Thank you so much for the kind comment Kay, so glad you found this post helpful! I also learned a lot myself while doing the research for the post :P

  25. Sabiha says:

    What an informative post. I always feel like I don’t know enough about sunscreen so this was really helpful x

  26. Kiran says:

    This is a fantastic, comprehensive post! I wish I had brought a hat with me abroad and I am so paranoid about SPF that no matter the type I keep reapplying every hour or so. Thank you for explaining, hope you are well x

    ALittleKiran | Bloglovin

    • Jenny says:

      Thanks so much for the kind comment Kiran! That’s awesome that you’re so diligent about reapplying sunscreen, I need to be better at this. How do you do it when you have makeup on?

  27. TINA H says:

    I never knew such things about sunscreen! This post is so helpful with all of these information! Thank you for sharing dear!

    xo Tina
    IG: @tinasweetheart

  28. Ellese says:

    Wow! This was incredibly powerful to read! You answered questions I had and never knew before. Thank you for this in depth explanations. I am saving it for later. Xo, Ellese


  29. Alyssa says:

    Thank you for this post! Finally, I know what those labels in the suncreen means :)

    xx Alyssa // STYLE VANITY

  30. Sofia says:

    Ohh this was so insightful! Thank you :)

    xx Sofia | SOFIAADOT

  31. Amy says:

    Ohhhh my goodness!!! This post was just a treasure trove of valuable info. WOW! So much knowledge dropped that I didn’t know anything about. Really makes me rethink my sunscreen (need to check the labels on all of them stat!) and what I’m putting on my skin. Thank you for this informative post, everyone should read it!!

    xx, Amy

    • Jenny says:

      Thanks so much for the kind comment Amy, so glad you found it helpful!! I had to go back and re-evaluate my sunscreens after doing the research for this post and some of them definitely didn’t make the cut :/

  32. Stef says:

    This is an awesome (and thorough) post. Will share. I love the Anthelios 60, but it’s pricy.

  33. Vedina says:

    Oh wow! This is a very well-rounded post. I always have the habit of using sunscreen but I only use it for the heck of it and because other people are using it, I literally have no clue about the SPF or which texture fits which skin type, I just put it on. This is very helpful and helps me understand a bit more about sunscreen, thanks for sharing.

    • Jenny says:

      Thanks so much for reading Vedina, and glad my post helped! Any sunscreen is always better than no sunscreen, so that’s a great start already :)

  34. Cat L says:

    Thank you Jenny for such a comprehensive post! You did not leave a single stone unturned and this post is a must read! I also really like the fact that you kept the language simple, as often times I get lost in terminology I don’t quite understand.

    Now back to the topic. I am a strong proponent of wearing SPF regardless of season or weather (sunny vs overcasty, etc). I also think the key is re-applying, something I’m often guilty of not doing. But I’m definitely getting better now with the invention of SPF mists such as the Kate Somerville spray. Love La Roche Posay sunscreens, they’re probably some of the best I’ve tried. I also like the Clarins ones and the newest Dermalogica with SPF 50 and anti-aging benefits.

    Great post Jenny and I’m also loving the graphics! Well done!

    ~ Cat L.

    • Jenny says:

      Thanks so much Cat!! I agree, the key is definitely reapplying, but it’s definitely tough when you have a face full of makeup. I didn’t know Kate Somerville had a sunscreen spray, I’ll need to check that out! I’ve also heard great things about the Clarins, though I’m curious if the European version will have some of the more stable and stronger ingredients compared to the US versions. Thanks for sharing these sunscreens with me!!

  35. Nikkie says:

    Ahhh, every girl out there should read this post!! Finally someone who gets sunscreen x’D I’ve been wearing sunscreen everyday since elementary–> thank you so much Mum!! I think the main reason she was especially concerned was because we get freckles really easily and I believe it’s just passed down in the family, haha.. so sunscreen also meant prevention of more freckles/darkening of them. This is actually such a helpful guide and really interesting read since I’ve never conducted much research into them- only knew of their importance and stuck with a brand. I also feel pretty skeptical with makeup sunscreen being sufficient for sun protection! Re-applying sunscreen is so so important- I try to do every 3 or so hours- but I’ve always wondered if people re-apply or touch-up their makeup after applying sunscreen? I’ve also never heard of DIY sunscreen and I think that is the silliest idea ever! Lol. By the way, I love how you made these photo guides and the cute table of contents ^^”

    • Jenny says:

      Thank you so much for your kind comment Nikkie! And you deserve a round of applause for developing great sunscreen habits at such a young age, I wish my mom was more strict with me back then! I’m very curious about how people with makeup re-apply sunscreen as well, since I’m not particularly thrilled with my method, which is using a sunscreen spray. This is something I’ll need to do more research on!

  36. Velvet Blush says:

    This is so informative! I recently researched a bit into UVA and UVB, and it’s really shocking when you do read up on it all. There was quite a lot that I didn’t know. For example, I don’t really reapply in the day, but that’s one of the most important steps, so I need to keep some of these points in mind x

    • Jenny says:

      So glad you liked it! I was shocked at how much I didn’t know when I was researching this subject as well, and it’d be great if brands could inform consumers better so we know exactly what we’re buying, but until then, hopefully this info helps :P

  37. Mili says:

    Dang girl you covered everything in this post! I started writing my own sunscreen post but I feel like I should just direct people to your blog instead LOL. Thanks for all the info <3 Also love the graphics!

    Mili | sharmtoaster

    • Jenny says:

      Aww thank you so much Mili, glad you liked the post!! Thank goodness for Canva and their premade templates, because I can’t create graphics for my life, haha :P

  38. Ankita Bardhan says:

    I knew a bit about UVA rays, PA and broad spectrum but your post made me think of it in depth. I try to apply the required amount of sunscreen but since I have combination skin, I use matte-fying sunscreens and if you take the required amount (which is usually a lot) it creates white cast/lines on face.
    Thank you for sharing this detailed post.


    • Jenny says:

      Thank you for reading Ankita! It really is difficult to apply the required amount, and I struggle with it myself. Have you tried applying it in layers instead of all at once? For me it’s a bit easier when I do it that way, or I try color balance with some bronzer afterwards.

  39. Elise says:

    omg i feel like i should be writing and taking down notes. this is such an informative post! i saw another post about sunscreen on my bloglovin feed written by a famous beauty influencer but really, yours is waaaaay better. so much more. yours is so informative and it’s really packed with scientific facts that elaborate things to us who are sunscreen noobs.

    do you have other affordable recommendations from the drugstore (asian brands are cool too!)? i know you don’t really use drugstore stuff anymore but brands like kiehl or la roche posay are just so expensive and frankly, i don’t wanna spend so much on a sunscreen. i’d rather spend it on other skincare products. also, have you ever tried the biore aqua UV thing from japan? heard it’s super popular there. also, my current spf from hada labo says “uv moisture gel with spf 50++” (i forgot how many + are there but you get the idea) and i heard some people that it’s not the same thing as a sunscreen? idgi? i heard one girl says that the hada labo uv gel is just a moisturizer with spf in it and not like these sunscreens you mentioned above. i personally have been using the hada labo one since last year and it doesn’t break me out so yeah, i keep using it instead of trusting what that girl said and get me another sunscreen (which is gonna be such a waste for me to stock up spf products since i rarely go out and get exposed to the sun)

    also, i didn’t know we should be using that much of sunscreen in one go. i mean, wow so that’s the rule? i personally sometimes squeeze that much from the tube just because sunscreens – or at least mine glides easier when i squeeze / pour that much. does that make sense? it makes it easier for me to blend em equally into my skin, if ya know what i’m saying. i tried using like less than that and i felt like i didn’t applied the spf equally. i wonder if i just have a huge ass face.

    oh last but not least, you know how people say you should reapply sunscreen every 2 hours? i’m really questioning that. how am i supposed to do that if i wear spf and makeup??? like…i can’t apply my spf ON TOP of my foundation & powder right??? i’m just so confused???

    anyway, thanks for writing this! i love in-depth guide posts like this. do more in the future! :))

    • Jenny says:

      Aww thank you so much Elise, so glad you liked this post!! Unfortunately the recommendations I posted were based on Dr. Chiu’s test and what’s available in EU & US, but another one he recommend was the Cetaphil UVA/UVB SPF50+, which I think is only available in Asia. As for the Japanese brands like Biore and Hada Labo, they rank medium to low in comparison, and I think I listed that extact Biore Aqua UV one as an example in my post because it’s so popular, but its UVA protection is lower compared to others with the same PA rating.

      As for the Hada Labo one being different from sunscreen, I think that because it contains a few hydrating ingredients, you might be able to skip moisturizer and just use that instead. Of course this is dependent on skin type and climate, so I’d imagine someone with dry skin would still need a moisturizer beforehand.

      About the sunscreen amount, unfortunately that’s how much they test with when they come up with the SPF/PA/PPD ratings, so in order to get the labeled amount of protection, we’d need to match the quantity they test at. You don’t have to use it all at once, you can layer them on separately if that makes it easier to blend and absorb. As long as the final amount adds up to 1/4 tsp, you should be good :)

      Trust me, I feel your pain on the reapplication, especially with makeup. I find the best method is to use an oil blotting sheet to soak up a bit of the extra sebum, then use sunscreen spray and pat the mist into my skin. Or you can always use a cushion with SPF50/PA+++ and really pat that on, though I haven’t tried this myself yet.

      Thank you for all the great questions, I’ll be updating the post with some of the additional info from this comment! :D

  40. I do have pretty good habits when it comes to sun protection, at least for now. I used to be very reckless with the sun when I was younger. The sunscreen simulator sounds very helpful, I will have a play with it when I get home. Keeping up with the actual efficacy of the product you are using is tricky, at least for me right now.

    Linda, Libra, Loca: Beauty, Baby and Backpacking

    • Jenny says:

      Yep, you never realize the damage the sun can do until you get older and all of a sudden the damages are popping out like daisies, at least that’s the case for me. There’s only so much we can do to gauge the actual efficacy of our sunscreen, so it would be great if brands would do more thorough testings in the future. Thanks for reading Anne!

  41. Sam says:

    This is EXACTLY what I was looking for. Thank you for your very detailed post, it helped a lot in understanding the differences without looking everywhere on the internet for it. Thanks to past negligence in applying sunscreen, sunspots have already started to appear so I’m a firm believer as well that sunscreen is a must no matter what. I must admit I giggled a little when i read “channel your inner asian grandma and bring out the umbrellas” I see them everywhere in Hong Kong. No matter rain or sunshine I suffer from people poking me with umbrellas every day x Sam

    • Jenny says:

      So glad to hear that Sam, thank you for reading! Asians are definitely on top of their sun protection game, I remember seeing people in long sleeves in Taiwan during the summer because they didn’t want their arms to tan + burn! That’s real dedication right there, haha

  42. Camilla says:

    Ok, I’m bookmarking this for reference. What an amazing, thorough post, Jenny! So now I’m interested in those LRP sunscreens…but are those the EU versions rather than the US versions? I haven’t seen them in the store. I recently tried the LRP kids sunscreen (US version), and my husband burned whereas my kids both got rashes =(. So that one is out. I bet the EU formulations are a lot better.

    • Dan says:

      Hi Jenny,

      Awesome article and explanation re sunscreens. One question, I saw a you tube video by Dr V, re chemical screens for people of colour suffering with pigmentation issues. She stated that chemical sunscreens degrade quicker than mineral sunscreens when applied. Is this true?

      Secondly, she also went on to add that the entire La Roche Posay has really advanced filters but they all contain alcohol, which in the long term is damaging to cells and the skin. What are your thoughts?

      Would love to hear your thoughts please.

      • Jenny says:

        Thanks Dan! Avobenzone, the only FDA approved UVA filter is known to be unstable and requires other ingredients in the formula to stabilize it. However new generation UVA filters that are used in European and Asian sunscreens don’t have this issue and are known to be stable. But regardless of the type of sunscreen used, sweat and friction will cause the sunscreen to degrade as well so it’s it’s always good to reapply regularly when out in the sun.

        Yes it’s true that many of the La Roche Posay sunscreens contain alcohol, and that’s to help make the texture more elegant (and thus easier to apply). I’m on the camp that alcohol in a well-formulate ingredient is not a major concern, and as someone with dry skin I’ve never found it to be drying. Personally I’d rather use a well-formulated sunscreen with alcohol and apply the correct amount than an alcohol-free version that’s heavier and thus more uncomfortable on the skin. Hope this helps!

    • Jenny says:

      Thanks so much Camilla!! Yes unfortunately all these sunscreens are EU versions as a lot of the better ingredients are not yet approved by the FDA. :( So sorry to hear that the LRP kids sunscreen did nothing for your family…it’s one of the main reasons why I’m hesitant to buy the US versions, I’m just not sure how well they’ll actually perform. The only one I might consider is the LRP Anthelios 60 Ultra Light Fluid Sunscreen because it has a PPD of 26, but I’d rather just buy the EU versions for peace of mind.

      PS. I updated the ingredient list to show which countries/regions they’re approved in!

  43. Violette says:

    What a great and very interesting post! Now I can understand a little better all these word written on sunscreens! Thanks for sharing!

  44. Katherine says:

    I am guilty of being too lazy to ever wear sunscreen, which is so bad. Thanks for all this information, I learned a lot! Haha the spritz test is interesting and something I’d like to try.

    • Derek Mendonca says:

      Your article on sunscreens was one of the best I’ve read in a long time and I have done a lot of research. One question that no one covers and if you can let me know, I would be very grateful.

      I’ve read that the chemical sunscreens absorb the UV light into your skin and then converts this into heat which your skin releases.
      Creating this heat, is the very issue that causes pigmentation that does not occur with zinc oxide as it sits on the skin. Also, the consumer group who tested hundreds of sunscreens could not recommend one physical sunscreen containing zinc and titanium dioxide. Please let me know regarding the pigmentation issues using chemical sunscreens.

      Anticipated thanks


      • Jenny says:

        Thank you! Do you have the article where it says the heat causes pigmentation? I’ve never come across that myself, plus the idea that mineral filters deflect UV rays instead of absorbing them is false. A study actually shows them absorbing 95% of the UV rays, so they will produce heat too ( In terms of pigmentation the biggest culprit will still be UV rays, so I definitely wouldn’t stop using chemical sunscreens, especially Asian/European ones with the better filters!

    • Jenny says:

      It’s definitely a habit I had to force myself to develop after noticing spots appearing on my cheeks :( Glad you found it helpful!

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