Surf Mei Mei, KL, has very sensitive skin. And growing up with 4 girls forced me to think about my skin a lot. As a woman, my concern is not only sunburn but also wrinkles and any underlying sun damage.
We are not professional doctors; we are simply users who really care about our skin.Therefore, I will briefly discuss about basic science of sunscreen via knowledge of dermatologists and skincare professions (Basic Science); also share my experience and best methods (How To) I have been experienced on my surfer’s skin; last but not least, review a few sunscreens that I am currently using (Review)
Please roll down the page to find the session that you are looking for!
As we know the most important reason why we wear sun protection is to block UVA and UVB rays from sun exposure. UV rays cause skin damage, such as redness, wrinkles, sunburn, skin cancer and more. As surfers, sunscreen is one of the best things we can use to block the UV rays while we play with the ocean.
• UVA rays can prematurely age your skin, causing wrinkles and age spots, and can pass through window glass.
• UVB rays are the primary cause of sunburn and are blocked by window glass.
Sourced from aad.org
According to Skincancer.org, the best sun block is Zinc Oxide (non-nano), based on its effectiveness and natural form on human skincare. Zinc oxide can block almost 98% UVA and 90% UVB, leaving our skin still able to absorb 10% of UVB which is essential for vitamin D absorption. Therefore, most of sunscreen products are made with zinc oxide.
Types of Sunscreens can affect the effectiveness of each product. For example, sticky form is good for face, especially around eye because it sticks onto your skin that reduces the chance of run-off. I generally buy products that are for sensitive skin or for baby and waterproof. I prefer SPF between 30 to 50, because too high of SPF clogs my pores. I will talk more about different types later in the How To section. Aad.org has a good and simple description about the type of sunscreens to use; it also has full descriptions about sunscreen.
Surf Mei Mei’s ultimate How-To maximizing sunscreen
For this HOW TO post, Surf Mei Mei will teach you HOW TO properly use sun block in its most effective way. Just remember, whether or not you care about all natural ingredients, the purpose of our post is for you to be able to use and choose sunscreens that work best for you. All reviews are subjective, and you should test on your own skin first!
We want to reduce possible sunburn and fine lines.
Facial skin is the most delicate part of our body, therefore, we will need to protect with extreme caution! According to Skincancer.org, it is recommended to put on 2 layers of sunscreen:
1. Base: apply coconut oil or a lighter-texture sunscreen with more nutrient ingredients; such as Kiss My Face Face Factor, about 30 minutes before you enter water. I usually do step 1 when I am at home, since coconut oil sometimes can be greasy and takes time to penetrate into your skin.
Method: Lightly apply the base layer with circular motion from bottom of your face (chin) going up to your chin. Tap on your nose, forehead, and outer circle of your eyes, but avoid the inner eye area. This way, coconut oil can be absorbed without creating any fine lines.
2. 2nd layer: apply a sunscreen cream or a stick that is high in oxide zinc, such as Hawaii Tropic Sensitive Skin Stick Sunscreen. About 5 minutes after the first base has been absorbed, or, I usually apply when I first arrive at a surf sport before I prepare for my water entrance (about 30 to 15 minutes before entering water).
Method: This is a thicker layer; therefore, gently tap the sunscreen with bottom to top.
3. 3rd layer: For maximized result, apply Zinka on your cheekbone, nose and forehead!!!Method: Pure zinc oxide is so thick, you can apply few minutes after the 2nd layer, or minutes before entering water. Just don’t touch your face!
Applying sunscreen on our body is similar to face but easier because our skin is thicker on our body. We can still do two layers as mentioned above without the 3rd layer.
1. Base: apply coconut oil or sunscreens high in zinc oxide, such as Thinksport SPF 50 Sunscreen or Neutrogena Broad-spectrum Ultra Sheer Dry Touch SPF 55.
Method: Similar For Face method, basically rub sunscreen from bottom to top of your body in circular motion.
2.2nd Layer: apply the same sunscreen high in zinc oxide or a spray sunscreen, such as Coopertone Kids SPF 50, 30 minutes before surfing. For spray sunscreen, do NOT inhale the spray while spraying and spray enough to have full coverage.
Guide for review:
***** (best) rating
Redness: it is the potential to get red, which eventually will lead to sunburn. More stars mean it will less likely get your skin red.
Wrinkles: it is the potential to get dry skin and/or produce fine line due to the sunscreen texture or ingredients. More stars mean the product will get your skin less wrinkly.
Darkness: It is the potential each product will make our skin darker. Fewer stars will get your skin darker.
This review is based on my personal experiment. And the post is updated regularly as an ongoing experiment.
Brand: La Roche-Posay Anthelios 50 Ultra Facial Sunscreen Fluid
Ingredient Highlights: Titanium diocide 11%
Pros: My personal favorite sunscreen for face. Just shake it and apply
Great for sensitive skin. Water resisitant. Fragrance-free. Paraben-free. Broad spectrum SPF 50. Mineral base.
Cons: It is more expansive and also, the recommended water resistance time last for 40 mins (a bit short for surfers). Therefore, I still get a tint of color. Good thing about this product is that the color usually is even, light without any redness or drying signs of my skin.
Ingredient Highlights: Zinc OxidePrice: $3 to 6 (.6 once tube)
Pros: One of the oldest and popular sun-blocks to be used for sports. It is also one of the most effective sun-block since it is mostly made out of zinc oxide. It is thick and usually applies on the most affected area by the sun expose, such as cheekbone, nose-bridge and forehead. It comes in different colors.
Cons: It is so thick and not translucent, it can only apply on small area.
Brand: Thinksport SPF50+ Sunscreen
Ingredient Highlights: Zinc Oxide 20% (non-nano), all natural ingredients, no Oxybenzone or Vitamin A (Retinyl Palmitate).
Price: $10 to 13 (3 onces tube)
Pros: Top rated sunscreen by EWG skin-deep database with a “1” rating in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013.
Cons: As much as Zinc Oxide is the best sunscreen we can use, zinc oxide has very thick texture. Thinksport contains 20% of Zinc Oxide in comparison to other brand 2 to 10%, therefore, the texture of Thinksport could be too thick to spread through our skin. Remember, when we rubbing our skin harshly with anything repeatly, there is a higher chance for our skin to get permanent wrinkles. On the positive side, unlike pure zinc oxide, Thinksport absorb fairly quickly, only take about under 30 seconds for the white color to be absorb into our skin.
Verdict: Thinksport is great to use on our body. For Surfmeimei, the best part to focus on is our butt and back of our legs where maximum sun exposure hits when we surf. It is also a great 2nd layer sunscreen for maximum protection.
Brand: KISS MY FACE Face Factor Sunscreen Face + Neck SPF 30
Ingredient Highlights: Octinoxate 7.5% Zinc Oxide 3%, rich in antioxidant Green Tea and Licorice extracts
Price: $8 to 10(2 onuce tube)
Pro: Kiss My Face sunscreen for face and neck has anti-aging ingredients such as oat protein. It is fragrances free for sensitive skin. It is gentle on my sensitive skin and easy to apply on my face.
Cons: The sunscreen is on the lighter side of oxide zinc. It is pretty effective when use for daily uses, or surfing under an hour.
Verdict: Kiss My Face Face Factor Sunscreen is not suitable to apply alone under hardcore surfing condition. However, SurfMeiMei would apply twice of Kiss My Face Face Factor (after the first layer is absorbed), OR, apply after a stick or oil form sunscreen as a 2nd layer.
Ingredient: coconut oil (fractured coconut oil preferred)
Price: $8 to 15 (32 once cold-pressed coconut oil jar)
Pros: Coconut oil is my favor sunscreen and for many other purpose. It will smooth your skin and effective block 20% of UVB, according to coconutoilfacts.org. It also helps to treat sunburn while you have it on as a sunscreen. It is great for your skin, therefore, you can use it on your face or anywhere.
Cons: Coconut oil is not waterproof. And it needs to be re-applied constantly for surfing. And it is not suitable for surfers who do not want to get a tan.
Verdict: Coconut oil is a great base sunscreen. It can smooth your skin with nutrients while penetrates into your pores as a great sunscreen base.
Surf Mei Mei believes everyone has different skin conditions and types, therefore, everyone should test for their own sunscreen. One side note we need to mention is that we have been debating whether or not to recommend Oxybenzone on our post, as there is a controversial debate about the potential toxic level of Oxybenzone among skincare professional. From a medical demonology journal, JAMAnetwork.com, “…in a human study, oxybenzone did not demonstrate significant endocrine disruption, even with application of a formulation containing 10% oxybenzone.” We decided to include products that contain oxybenzone, after reading multiple scientific researches, such as Hawaii Tropic Senstive Skin Stick Sunscreen and Neutrogena Broad-spectrum Ultra Sheer Dry Touch SPF 55. They are some of the most effective sunscreens (reduce redness and wrinkles) I have ever used that contain oxybenzone. You will make your own decision for your own skin!——————————————————————————————————————————
All images are originated by Surf Mei Mei and Shifting Sand Surf House.
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