Here's Everything You Need to Know About Sunscreen for Your Face

Sunscreen is typically the most forgotten product for the face. It's time to change that!
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Photo Credit: Elle

Photo Credit: Elle

Sunscreen is SO. IMPORTANT. Most of us remember to apply it religiously to our bodies during the summer months, but we can easily forget that our faces also need some of that good ol' SPF. 

Today, I want to stress the importance of always always applying sunscreen to your face. So I'm going to share some of the science behind SPF and show you some of my holy grail face sunscreens. Ready? Let's go!

Photo Credit: Elle

Photo Credit: Elle

Here's a quick rundown on UV light and the science behind sunscreen.

What's the deal with UV Rays?

From once source or another, we’ve all heard that UV rays from the sun are extremely damaging to our bodies, and all of that talk is completely true. These rays can cause big damage to the DNA in our cells. 

UV rays have the ability to slice through both strands of the DNA double helix and create double-stranded breaks, which are really hard to repair. To give you a nice analogy, UV rays can essentially cut through DNA as easily as scissors can cut through paper. Yikes.

This kind of repeated DNA damage can eventually cause cancers and other skin issues. Our cells can fix these breakages over time, but it’s a lot to ask our bodies to handle. Applying SPF regularly helps with this by stopping the rays from affecting your skin.

UVA vs UVB Light

UV light comes in two types: UVA or UVB light. UVA rays penetrate deep into the dermis layer of the skin and can cause premature aging and wrinkles, while UVB rays interact with the surface of the skin to cause sunburns. UVB rays also play a primary role in the development of skin cancer.

Sunscreens offer a different mix of protection from these two types of rays. While some brands may only defend against one type, most sunscreens in stores (known as "broad spectrum sunscreens”) protect you against both UVA and UVB rays. 

Photo Credit: Elle

Photo Credit: Elle

How Sunscreens Work

There are two main types of protecting ingredients in every sunscreen: physical and/or chemical protectants.

  • Physical protectants act like physical barriers for your skin. These reflect UV rays right back into the atmosphere, preventing those rays from ever reaching your skin. Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are the two most common physical protectants. These ingredients give sunscreen that characteristic white color.
  • Chemical protectants on the other hand, protect us by absorbing UV rays and breaking them down so that they're harmless to the skin. During this interaction, the chemical protectant itself breaks down. Because of this, chemical protectants are constantly tested to ensure they’re safe. These ingredients can be irritating to the skin, so be sure to test them out on a small patch of skin first. Avobenzone, octinoxate, and octisalate are all common chemical protectants. 

Which SPF to Pick?

One of the biggest questions with sunscreens is figuring out which SPF to buy. In general, a higher SPF equals more protection from UV rays. While this is true, multiple studies have shown that UV protection doesn't increase too drastically after SPF 50. The takeaway? Don't worry about buying that more expensive SPF 100+ sunscreen when an SPF 50 sunscreen protects you just as well.

Photo Credit: Cupcakes and Cashmere

Photo Credit: Cupcakes and Cashmere

Lucky for us, makeup companies include SPF in most of their base products, like moisturizers and foundations. This makes it much easier to apply SPF on a daily basis. But you shouldn't forget good old fashioned sunscreen as well. 

Here are a few options to show how you can easily incorporate sun protection into your skincare and makeup routine:


These products provide your skin with the usual benefits you expect from skincare, like moisture for example, while protecting skin from damaging environmental factors like UV radiation. If you don’t wear makeup or wear it sparingly, then these options are for you.

NOTE: If you want to apply plain old sunscreen to your face, apply it after moisturizer to ensure it protects properly.

Skincare products with SPF

Products: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6


So many brands include SPF in their foundations and tinted moisturizers. It's super easy to find one at any price point that suits your skin. However, we highly recommend that you layer these over a standard sunscreen regardless, as you likely won't apply a thick enough layer of makeup to fully protect your skin

Here are some fantastic makeup options that include SPF.


Products: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

Sunscreen isn't just important for our faces during the summer; it's just as necessary for our skin during the rest of the year. Try and make a conscious effort to include more sunscreen in your skincare or makeup routine! I promise your skin will thank you later. 

What do you think?

Is SPF/sunscreen something you'd be willing to introduce to your daily skincare or makeup routine? Let us know in the comments below!

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