If you are serious about preserving a healthy complexion, and protecting your skin from the sun, investing in the right sunscreen is one of the best moves you’ll ever make. Carefully choosing an SPF that matches your skin photo type is the first step.
What exactly is your skin phototype?
Skin phototype can be determined by your melanin, or your skin protective pigment against the sun. If you know your complexion and the time your skin can tolerate UV rays without burning, it will be easier for you to come up with the right sun protection plan. You should belong in one the following skin phototype categories.
Phototype I -Fair skinned (pale), freckled, blond or red hair with rich blue or hazelnut eyes
Description: 5 minutes under the sun leads to sunburn already but never tan. Sensitivity to sun exposure is highest so is the risk for melanoma and other forms of skin cancer.
The Ideal Sunscreen: Don’t settle for anything less than SPF 30 and don’t just settle for a sunscreen, choose clothing that covers your skin and seek shade whenever necessary especially when the sun’s rays are strongest, around 10am-4pm.
Phototype II – Fair skin with blue eyes
Description: You get sunburned within 10 minutes, minimal tanning, if any. You also have higher risk of skin cancer and sun damage.
The Ideal Sunscreen: Don’t settle for anything less than SPF 30 and don’t just settle for a sunscreen, choose clothing that covers your skin and seek shade whenever necessary especially when the sun’s rays are strongest, around 10-4pm.
Phototype III – Average fair skin with light brown hair and eyes
Description: Skin forms a golden brown tan and it takes up to 40 minutes for you to get sunburned. Spend hours in the sun unprotected; increase the risk of skin damage and cancer.
The Ideal Sunscreen: For daily or mild sun exposure, wear an SPF 30 especially if you are going out to the beach or hiking under the sun.
Phototype IV – Light brown or olive tone
Description: Your skin tans easily and it seldom burns. If you practice mindful sun protection, it’s easier to avoid the risk of skin damage or cancer.
The ideal sunscreen: Wear at least an SPF 30 for day to day outdoor activities particularly if you happen to battle hyperpigmentation.
Phototype V – Golden brown skin, eyes and hair
Description: Rarely burns and tans easily. You may not belong to the high risk group but you are at risk for certain types of skin cancers which can cause growths on your palms and soles of your feet, areas with less or no melanin.
Ideal Sunscreen: An SPF 30 could give you a peace of mind but it pays still to be mindful, seek shade, and wear the right clothing if you are in the sun from 10am-4pm.
Phototype VI – Highest melanin content, dark brown to deep skin tone
Description: Rarely burns and tans easily. You are at risk for certain types of cancer which can cause growths on your palms and soles of your feet, areas with less or no melanin.
Your ideal sunscreen: Wear an SPF 30 to protect against skin damage and premature aging. It also helps prevent the formation of more melanin that could lead to hyperpigmentation. Plus, you are not exempted from skin cancer and you can still get sunburn. Wear protective clothing and seek shade when possible
SPF calculation: You can manually calculate how long an SPF number can protect you by multiplying the amount of time it takes for you to get sunburn, and the SPF of the sunscreen
For example, you get sunburned within 5 minutes and you chose an SPF of 15, that’s 5×15. You can stay under the sun without burning for 75 minutes.
Warning: Because it takes up to 20 minutes after application before the sunscreen can protect your skin you might want to apply your sunscreen earlier – prior to sun exposure. Also, this formula only works if you know how to apply your sunscreen correctly: a shot glass works for the entire body and re-apply after 2-3 hours. Sooner if you are swimming or you rub your skin with a towel etc.
Keep in mind that the success of your sun protection regimen doesn’t depend on sunscreen alone, its part of an entire program. Be smart under the sun and you’ll be smart for life.