We are big sun worshipers over here. Huge. We also know that ultraviolet (UV) rays are the number one cause of premature skin aging and loss of elasticity. Unfortunately, they are the number one cause of skin cancer, too. The most common of all cancers, in fact. (Here's a quick PSA to stop what you're doing and mole-check yourself, please & thank you.) There are still ways to enjoy the many benefits of time spent in the sun without the harmful side effects. That perfect ball of hot plasma at the center of our solar system improves our mood, helps regulate a healthy circadian rhythm, and gives us a natural dose of Vitamin D, which we need to support calcium absorption for stronger, healthier bones. And if you're like me and have self-diagnosed seasonal affective disorder, being in the sun also just feels ... happy (oh hey there, serotonin boost). Great news! Integrating daily sunscreen application into your skincare routine means you can be outside, splash in the waves, make those sandcastles, and do it without turning into a raisin because - that's not the look. If that's not enough to convince you to wear sunscreen, consider this: you know all those high-performance serums and treatments you're skin has been drinking up? You won't see long-term benefits from those products if you're not finishing your skincare routine with daily SPF.
Read on to pass the summer vibe check.
Chemical vs. Mineral
There are two types of sunscreen: chemical and mineral (I bet you can guess which team we're on). Let's break down the difference between the two.
Chemical sunscreen has an abundance of ingredients that need to be absorbed into the skin to protect it from the sun's intense rays. Some of these ingredients, like oxybenzone, avobenzone, and homosalate, are suspected endocrine disruptors, can be potent skin and eye irritants, and can be detected on the skin and in the body's bloodstream weeks after use. These chemicals also contribute to the bleaching of coral reefs. Oxybenzone is banned in Australia and Hawaii for this reason 🐠.
Mineral sunscreen, also called physical sunscreen, works by resting on the skin's surface and reflecting the sun's rays. Because it's not being absorbed into the skin, it tends to be less irritating and a better fit for all skin types than chemical sunscreen. The active hard-working ingredients in mineral sunscreens are titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. Together, these ingredients create a shield to protect from both UVA and UVB (broad spectrum) rays (we'll break those down in a sec.) Because mineral sunscreens are thicker than chemical sunscreens, they can leave behind a white cast on the skin, but The Green Kiss girls are pretty obsessive about finding a solution for this. Every sunscreen sold at The Green Kiss is a natural, broad-spectrum UVA & UVB, mineral sunscreen with non-nano zinc oxide. They are effective biodegradable sunscreens that physically block the sun's rays while nourishing and moisturizing your skin.
UVA, UVB, UV-huh?
While many different types of rays are present in sunlight, UV radiation - the most damaging to our skin - is classified into two groups: ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB). (Think A for Aging, B for Burning). Sunscreen labelled as 'broad spectrum' or 'full spectrum' is used to protect the skin from both UVA and UVB rays. Here's the difference between the two:
UVA (long-wave) rays penetrate deeply into the skin, playing a central role in premature skin aging (or photoaging) and long-term skin damage. They contribute to skin cancer growth but are not the leading cause. There are approximately 500 times more UVA rays in sunlight than UVB rays, which is why chemical formulas aren't great at shielding UVA rays - instead, they work to protect your skin from UVB rays once they're absorbed.
DYK: UVA rays reach and affect our skin through glass windows without the typical warning signs of being in direct sun.
UVB (shortwave) rays are the leading cause of sunburns and play the most significant role in causing skin cancers, like the deadly black mole malignant melanoma. UVB rays show the most noticeable effect on the skin - think redness, sun spots, or darkened freckles. After time in the sun, any colour change on your skin is a sign of skin damage, no matter your skin type or tone.
Pro Tip: Check your daily local UV index to plan your day and take the necessary precautions.
Nano v. Non Nano
You may be seeing nano or non-nano on your cosmetic packaging - it's buzzy these days. But what does it mean? Just how small is a nano? Get your calculators out. Nano is a measurement meaning "one billionth." So ... it's small. A non-nano particle isn't AS tiny (but is still really small). A nanoparticle is smaller than 100 nanometers, while non-nano particles are in the 100 to 500nm range. It's this microscopic difference that makes non-nano particles safer to use. Why? The concern with these super-small nanoparticles is they are small enough to enter your bloodstream and be ingested by coral reefs. Non-nano particles aren’t small enough to penetrate your skin. And while the research on the health impacts of nanoparticles is ongoing, The Green Kiss supports the use of products that are known to be safe on our skin and our environment. None of the sunscreens we carry use nanoparticles; we're exclusively non-nano.
What Does The SPF Number Represent?
All Health Canada and FDA-approved sunscreens have an SPF (sun protection factor) number on their labels. The SPF number is a relative measure of how long it will take for unprotected skin to burn in the sun versus how long it will take when the recommended amount of sunscreen is used. For example, a 30 SPF sunscreen would provide 30 times the protection of no sunscreen. A 45 SPF is 45 times better than nothing, and so on. As the SPF value increases, so does the sunburn protection. Several factors impact the amount of SPF coverage needed. Consider your geographical location - how close you are to the equator, the time of day you plan to be in the sun, and your skin type - fair skin is far more susceptible to sunburns. For day-to-day use, pick a sunscreen of at least SPF 30.
Myth Buster: the SPF number has no relation to the amount of time you are protected in the sun. It is not directly related to the time of sun exposure but to the amount of sun exposure, i.e. the sun is more intense at midday relative to the other times. No SPF is high enough to be 100% effective at preventing burning and skin damage.
Do SPF 15 BB Creams Count Towards Sun Protection?
Our buttery 100% Pure BB Cream contains 15 SPF, so ideally, it would take you 15 times longer to burn than if you weren't wearing it. They contribute to sun protection but will not be enough for full-spectrum coverage. These products work best when layered with an SPF 30 or higher.
Pro Tip: When layering skin care, start with the lightest formula in your routine and end with the richest. Sunscreen should be your last skincare product applied and can be used under or over your foundation.
Tinted v. Non-Tinted
How can there only be one shade in a tinted sunscreen!? Half of the sunscreens we carry at The Green Kiss have a colour-adjusting mineral tint. This isn't there to provide coverage, but it does help minimize the appearance of redness while evening out skin tone and texture. The pigments' primary purpose is to neutralize the white cast left behind by mineral zinc oxide. Once applied, you'll see the tint becomes sheer - making it appropriate for every skin tone. Can men wear tinted sunscreen without looking like they're wearing foundation? Heck, yea!
Let's put our skin-health concerns aside for a moment and zoom out. Chemical and nanoparticle sunscreens may have a harmful impact on our oceans' beautiful coral reefs. Recently, there has been some debate in the scientific community over just how much damage these ingredients cause. Of course, the best way to protect our reefs from manmade body care is to swap it for a head-to-toe UV rash guard, but that might not be the beach #OOTD you're going for. Instead, stick to a mineral sunscreen. Chemical sunscreen ingredients are more likely to contribute to reef bleaching. One of their ingredients, oxybenzone, can threaten the health of coral reefs. Although sunscreen is not the leading cause of damage to coral reefs, reef-conscious sunscreen isn't a bad place to start doing your part.
Picking The Right Sunscreen For You
Ok, here comes the fun part! The secret to our success is our educational superpower. Our small team is well versed in understanding each guest's specific skin concerns and has the aptitude to find the appropriate solution. Our walk-in or phone skincare consultations are always customized to your individual skin needs. It brings us endless joy - we've been in your shoes too! Reach us here if you want to chat more!
Let's break down the best sun protection for your specific skin needs.
Best Natural Sunscreen for Acne-Prone/Sensitive Skin
We're firm believers that the right sunscreen won't make you break out. Our SPF pick for reactive skin is this softening, fragrance-free day cream from Josh Rosebrook that was created especially for those with hypersensitive skin. Our acne-prone clients notice an improvement in their acne with regular use of this product!
Best Natural Sunscreen for Dry Skin
Consonant Skincare makes 'The Perfect Sunscreen': an effective broad-spectrum, tinted, 100% natural, and mineral-based SPF 30 formula that works to blend in quickly on all skin tones.
Best Natural Sunscreen for a Deeper Skin Tone
An effective, 100% natural, broad-spectrum, mineral-based SPF 45 water-resistant sunscreen for the face and body that truly leaves no white cast!
Best Natural Sunscreen to Wear Under Makeup
Enriched with botanicals, this effective mineral sunscreen will leave your skin feeling hydrated and act as a barrier to protect you from harmful rays. With its lightweight texture, this expertly formulated sunscreen goes into the skin smoothly, leaving a light and transparent glow.
Best Natural Sunscreen for Oily/Combination Skin
This dreamy texture is lightweight and almost serum-like. When Zinc Oxide is combined with the powerful antioxidants in Green tea, damaging free radicals from daily pollutants are shielded and deflected. Soothing aloe, cucumber juice, and gentle plant oils calm the skin and allow this product to easily glide over the face, cocooning the skin.
Best Natural Sunscreen For Swimming/Sweating
This all-natural, water-resistant, non-greasy SPF 30 sunscreen is super hydrating and easy to rub in, thanks to a blend of organic coconut oil, jojoba oil, and shea butter. Water-resistant for 80 minutes!
Best Natural Sunscreen For Kiddos - Spray or Butter Stick
Our All Good SPF 30 Water Resistant Kid's Sunscreen Spray is non-greasy, comes in a convenient, non-aerosol spray that uses compressed air instead of propellant chemicals, and is water-resistant for 80 minutes.
Pro Tip: Avoid spraying sunscreens on the face as they aren't safe to inhale. In a pinch? Spray some on your hand first and rub it in.
Our All Good SPF 50 Kid’s Mineral Sunscreen Butter Stick contains skin-quenching certified organic oils like jojoba and coconut and organic chamomile to soothe sensitive skin, making it great for the whole family.
Best Natural Sunscreen for a The Rest Of Your Body!
When picking SPF for the rest of your body, there's less need for fancy ingredients or a tinted formula as we tend to power through our body sunscreen much faster than our facial sunscreen (think a shot glass amount every 80 minutes). This sport spray is non-greasy, SPF 30, and comes in a convenient, non-aerosol spray that uses compressed air instead of propellant chemicals.
The Right Way To Wear Sunscreen
☀️ 3 fingers: This is the amount of sunscreen you should be putting on your face and neck. Don't forget to take it up to your ears as well. Easy-to-miss spots include the back of your neck and the tops of the ears.
☀️ Rain or shine: SPF daily! Up to 80% of the sun's rays can pass through clouds.
☀️ Apply your sunscreen 10 minutes before sun exposure, and reapply often. How often? Experts recommend every 2 hours, especially after swimming or sweating. The more you reapply, the less UV radiation you'll absorb.
☀️ Don't use sunscreen on infants younger than 6 months. For these little ones, dressing them in UV-protected rash guards and a wide-brimmed hat is recommended, along with keeping them in the shade.
☀️ 5-10% of all skin cancers occur on the eyelid - so keep those peepers protected with a giant pair of sunglasses - think Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's - and a wide-brimmed hat, and seek the shade midday when the UV rays are the strongest.
☀️ Protect your pout. Our sunscreen is clean enough to eat (but don't). You can apply these products directly to your lips to prevent that delicate and thin skin from burning. Throughout the day, top up your lip sunscreen with a convenient
SPF lip balm loaded with natural ingredients to give you pillowy-soft (and protected) lips.
Investing in a great self-tanner is the ticket to tan without the skin damage. My skin tends to take on a blueish, ghost-like hue over the winter; in the summer, I burn to a lobster red, followed immediately by a full-skin snake shedding, leaving what's left dry as a husk. So naturally, when we picked up the award-winning Australian-made Eco Tan Face Tan Water, I went all in. This ray of sunshine applies as a toner and is loaded with hyaluronic acid to give you a glazed and glossy sun-kissed glow. My favourite part? There is no gross chemical-self-tanner smell, and it's safe for all skin types, including my acne-prone, sensitive skin. Did I just hop off the plane from Mexico? No. It's Eco Tan! Happiness-in-a-bottle! ☀️
The Bottom Line
Sunscreen is a data-backed, scientifically-proven way to prevent the harmful effects of the sun. Sunscreens' regulatory framework differs drastically by country, leaving much of the guesswork up to the consumer. We hope this information empowers you to make an informed decision on what you're applying to your skin and the environment around us. Reach us here for a custom SPF routine for your skin type and lifestyle, and incorporate a clean, mineral sunscreen into your daily skincare routine. You can thank us later!
Happy Summer, GK Community - we've got you covered!