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sunscreen ingredients

Sunscreen Ingredients Explained

The sun is one of the skin’s greatest enemies when it comes to premature ageing. At SkinCeuticals we recommend wearing a broad-spectrum, high SPF sunscreen (SPF 30 or above) every day, every day of the year. The trick is to find a sunscreen with a lightweight, non-greasy texture that you like and feels good on your skin.

What do broad spectrum sunscreens do?

Broad spectrum sunscreens protect against two types of ultraviolet rays that penetrate our atmosphere and are damaging to skin health.

UVA rays can be thought of as 'ageing rays'. They are consistently strong throughout the year and are responsible for the appearance of skin wrinkling, discolouration, and loss of elasticity. They can penetrate clouds, glass, and the upper layers of skin causing damage all year long, even on overcast days, when you are driving, or when you’re indoors near a window.

UVB rays can be thought of as 'burning rays'. They are stronger in summer, causing sunburns and skin cancer. They do not penetrate skin as deeply as UVA rays, but are just as dangerous to skin health. SPF rating relates to UVB rays and the protection the formula offers against them.


What does ‘SPF’ mean?  

SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor, this is a score-like system used to describe the strength of a product’s ability to protect against sunburn. SPF is calculated by working out how long it takes for an individual to get sunburn whilst wearing sunscreen, divided by the time taken for an individual to burn without sunscreen. Put simply, this means an SPF of 30 allows an individual to spend 30 times longer in the sun without burning, compared to wearing no sunscreen at all.


Which UV sunscreen filter should you choose?

Mineral Sunscreen Filters: Also known as physical filters, sit on top of skin and block UV rays like a shield. Titanium dioxide is a natural mineral filter found in all our 100% mineral sunscreens. It provides a gentle option for all skin types. As a mineral filter it works to provide a protective barrier over the surface of the skin by reflecting UV rays. This combats the penetration of UV rays into the skin, minimising the chance of sunburn.

Organic Sunscreen Filters: Also known as chemical filters, penetrate skin to scatter and absorb UV rays like a sponge. Mexoryl SX and mexoryl SL are examples of good organic filters. Mexoryl SX is designed to protect against UVA rays whilst mexoryl XL provides broad-spectrum UVA and UVB protection. When combined, they deliver synergistic protection across the UV spectrum. Mexoryl stands out as an organic filter due to the longevity of the protection it offers. It is ‘photostable’, meaning it doesn’t degrade quickly in the sun and offers longer-lasting UV protection.

Blended Sunscreen Filters (ie. Mineral and Organic): Our most multi-tasking formulas feature the UV protection of both filter types with benefits like hydration, water resistance, and exceptional wearability perfect for daily use.


Why is it important to use sunscreen around the eyes?

There is a unique structure of thinner and more sensitive skin around the eyes. This delicate area is particularly vulnerable to the negative effects caused by UV rays and sun exposure. As a result, it is an important area to consider when it comes to sun protection. Although some believe that wearing sunglasses provides adequate protection for the area, often sunglasses leave the area around the eyes exposed to UVA and UVB damage.

SkinCeuticals’ Mineral Eye UV Defense SPF 30 delivers daily protection, and defends the entire eye area. Formulated specifically for the uniquely sensitive skin around the eyes,  Mineral Eye UV Defense SPF 30 provides high SPF, without irritation, while its ceramide technology creates a smooth canvas for make-up application.


Why do we always recommend using a separate antioxidant serum with your sunscreen?

The sun is not your skin’s only enemy. Sunscreens protect against UV-induced free radicals, but other factors generate these skin-damaging molecules including pollution, heat, stress, alcohol and smoke.

Topical antioxidants are clinically shown to neutralise free radicals, but they are difficult to stabilise in skincare formulas, and when added to sunscreen formulas they have been shown to provide very little free radical protection.1 After years of skin research, SkinCeuticals developed specific combinations of vitamin C and other potent antioxidants that work synergistically to provide enhanced environmental protection. We hold a ground-breaking patent that defines three important parameters for properly formulating stable and effective vitamin C antioxidant serums: pure vitamin C (L-ascorbic acid) at an acidic PH (below 3.5) in a high concentration (10 - 20%). Always pair an antioxidant with a sunscreen for double defence against daily damage. Apply the antioxidant serum after cleansing in the morning, allow it to absorb for a few minutes, and then apply your preferred SPF. Moisturising serums or corrective creams can be applied after your antioxidant serum and before your SPF.


 1Wang S, Osterwalder U, Jung K PhD. Ex vivo evaluation of radical sun protection factor in popular sunscreens with antioxidants. J Am Acad Dermatol 2011

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