As most of us are now working from home due to circuit breaker measures, our skincare regimes have adjusted to a more simplified lifestyle. Though that may be the case, there are still a couple of beauty manifestos that should remain non-negotiable–sunscreen being one of them.
The benefits of sunscreen are distinguished in their own right; amongst many superlatives, it helps protect your skin, reduce the appearance of sun damage, slow down signs of aging, and decrease the risk for skin cancer. So even if we’re spending most of our time indoors working from home, sunscreen should still remain an essential step.
There are three types of damaging sun rays: UVA, UVB, and blue light. UVB has a shorter wavelength and is responsible for surface damage of the skin, causing immediate signs of skin damage and sunburns. The plus side is that most windows nowadays filter UVB rays out.
However, UVA has a longer wavelength and can penetrate through glass. So even if you’re staying indoors and working from home, you’re still exposing your skin to UVA rays, especially if you’re working near a window or in a room with natural light. UVA rays also penetrate past the epidermis, the surface layer of your skin, and can degrade your collagen levels, cause wrinkles and ageing signs, and put you at risk for skin cancer.
Blue light comes from the sun, but it is also prominent in smartphones, computers, and fluorescent light–devices and conditions that we are exposed to on a regular basis. Due to the nature of its short wavelength and high energy levels, it has the ability to penetrate past the dermis, deeper than UVA and UVB rays. A study done by the Journal of Investigative Dermatology in 2010 showed that exposure to blue light produces pigmentation and redness in the skin.
The effects of UVA, UVB, and blue light exposure are lasting on the skin and the most effective way to combat this is to wear sunscreen daily, and more specifically at this time, wear sunscreen indoors.
The approach to finding the most effective sunscreen is twofold: take a closer look at the minerals and the sun protection factor (SPF).
(1) Choose sunscreens that contain minerals like avobenzone, zinc oxide, and titanium dioxide. Avobenzone can absorb UV radiation, and zinc oxide and titanium dioxide reflect UV rays. According to the Environmental Working Group, these three UV filters are also known to have lower toxicity concerns, and so they’re less likely to have lasting effects on your skin.
(2) Select broad spectrum sunscreens. Broad spectrum sunscreens will have a proportionate level of protection against UVA and UVB rays. Though you might have also seen sunscreens with a PA grading system, most commonly with Japanese sunscreens. The grading system ranges from PA+ to PA++++, the former meaning your sunscreen or cosmetic product gives you some protection against UVA rays and the latter meaning it offers the best protection. In short: the more plus signs, the better your sunscreen is.
Of course, it is important to note that there is no sunscreen that can filter out 100 per cent of UV rays. A sunscreen with SPF 15 will filter out about 93 per cent of UV rays, SPF 30 will filter out 97 per cent, and SPF 50+ will filter out 98 per cent. For that reason, consider doubling up with antioxidant serums, as they can provide a recourse and pick up where your sunscreen’s coverage leaves off.
“Good antioxidants to go for include vitamin C, astaxanthin and DMAE, which can help neutralise free radical damage and protect the skin against oxidative stress. Use it at least once a day, but if you would like to have maximal impact, you can reapply it again at night as well.” says Dr Low Chai Ling, founder and medical director of SW1 Clinic.
A sunscreen’s indicated SPF is a measure of the effects of direct exposure to daylight, so if you’re staying indoors and working from home, you should not need to reapply it frequently if you’re applying the right amount. According to Dr Low, “You should apply sunscreen every morning. If you are prone to sweating, you may want to freshen your skin by reapplying it again later in the day.”
However, if you’re going out for a walk, or on an errands run, then the frequency will vary depending on your exposure to the sun. The general rule of thumb is to reapply sunscreen every two hours if you’re spending more time in direct sunlight.
Now that you know why you should wear sunscreen indoors, here’s a compilation of the best sun protection products to carry you through your WFH days and beyond:
The Skin Protect Spray is composed of a lightweight oil gel texture, making it considerate and easy for application and reapplication. Formulated with a trademark Tough Boost technology, its friction-resistant lasting polymers make it sweat, friction, and water-resistant up to temperatures of 40 C and humidity levels of up to 75 per cent–an essential in Singapore’s climate.
A “screen protector” in a bottle, this serum is a WFH must. It works as an invisible shield to protect your skin from blue light and infra-red light and blocks environmental pollutants that lead to hyperpigmentation, acne, and wrinkles. Pair this with your favourite sunscreen for maximum protection.
Beyond Sun Protection is a sunscreen cream that offers more than 50 per cent protection against blue light along with a coverage of SPF 79.7 and PA++++. This sunscreen took more than five years in its making to perfect its remarkably light texture. It’s hypoallergenic, non-comedogenic, and non-acnegenic, so it is gentle on sensitive skin and keeps it from clogging your pores or causing acne. Plus, it’s been clinically tested and proven to increase skin moisture by 32 per cent after 27 days of use.
This non-comedogenic sunscreen is perfected for daily use, to provide all-day hydration with a matte finish. Enhanced with ingredients like cellulospheres, baicalin, and vitamin E, it protects your skin from environmental aggressors like UVA and UVB rays and neutralises skin-damaging free radicals while providing an added boost of moisture.
This sun protection mist is ideal for coverage for your face, body, and hair. If you’re looking to wear sunscreen indoors, here’s one to start with. The unique formula of Ubiquinone and Rutin protects against blue light exposure and UV rays, and extracts of Licorice and Arbutin reduce redness and pigmentation in your skin.
Use it over your scalp to protect your hair colour, and spritz on your face and body for antibacterial, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory benefits.
Formulated with antioxidants like cherry blossom, lemon balm and white tea extract, the Chantecaille Ultra Sun Protection defends the skin against free radical damages. Plus, it protects the skin against UVA and UVB rays.
Glowscreen SPF 40 is a hydrator, broad spectrum sunscreen, and glowing primer all in one. Suited for those with normal to dry skin, the lightweight formula blocks broad spectrum UV rays and blue light while leaving a pearlescent finish for a healthy dose of glow.
This lightweight broad spectrum sunscreen is fortified with powerful antioxidants that shield the skin from environmental aggressors. The naturally derived botanicals work in line with your skin to repair and brighten dark spots. Wear this alone or as a primer for a smooth canvas.
Water-resistant and lightweight, this Korean sunscreen blocks your skin from the harmful rays. Composed of soothing mint water and other botanical extracts, it balances the level of oil and moisture levels in your skin to keep it hydrated and shine-free.
Beyond the basics of protecting the skin against UVA and UVB rays, this sunscreen contains a trademark Pearl Powder that will control sebum production throughout the day, keeping excessive shine at bay. Enriched with minerals and amino acids, the CNP Laboratory Tone-Up Protection Sun locks in the moisture and brightens skin tone.
If you’re looking to kickstart your routine of wearing sunscreen indoors, consider the Sun Mist. Sheer in its non-greasy and ultra-lightweight formula, this sunscreen sprays evenly and its soothing botanical assortments of chamomile, aloe leaf, and bamboo extracts soothe the skin while reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
The UV Essentiel is designed with an adaptive and powerful technology that makes it resilient to the exposure of UV rays, pollution, and free radicals. It enhances your skin’s natural defenses with its lightweight milky formula.
Using Block Brightening technology, this korean sunscreen brightens and protects the skin from harmful environmental aggressors like UV rays and micro dust particles. It prevents skin pigmentation and reduces the appearance of wrinkles. Composed of a smooth creamy texture, Sulwhasoo’s sunscreen adds an even layer of protective coating over the skin.
This article was first published in Singapore Women’s Weekly.