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If you’ve read up on basic skincare at all, you will know how important a good sunscreen is! The obvious and more important medical benefits of sunscreen are that it lowers your risk of developing skin cancer. According to the National Cancer Centre, skin cancer ranks 6th in male cancers and 7th in female cancers in Singapore, and the most common form of skin cancer, basal cell carcinoma, is generally due to sun exposure.

The NCC also recommends that sun protection, which includes sunscreens, should be started from young. Needless to say, sunscreen is something that both men and women should be using on a daily basis.

Apart from the medical benefits, sunscreen can also help you prevent visible signs of ageing on skin. Wrinkles, fine lines, age spots, and pigmentation are almost all caused or exacerbated by being inadequately protected from the sun’s UV rays.

beach essentials sunscreen

It’s also important to note that UV rays aren’t the same as sunlight. That means that even when it’s cloudy and overcast outside, which blocks most of the sun’s light rays from reaching us and resulting in a darker, gloomier day, UV rays are still capable of penetrating through the cloud cover and hitting your skin. Yes, that means you need to apply sunscreen even on a rainy day too.

Unfortunately, sun damage is accumulative, which means that your skin isn’t going to regenerate by itself and reverse the effects caused by UV exposure even if you take care not to expose yourself to sunlight over a period of time (which is pretty difficult anyway). Also, UV radiation level gets stronger the closer you are to the Earth’s equator. Since Singapore is almost right smack on the equatorial line, we think it’s probably best to err on the safe side when it comes to UV protection.

What should you look out for in sunscreens?

  • SPF (Sun Protection Factor): This number determines how effective your sunscreen is in preventing you from getting sunburnt from UVB rays, which contributes to sunburns. If you’d normally burn in 10 minutes without sunscreen, an SPF 15 sunscreen will multiply that by 15, so you can go 150 minutes without burning. However, you should also note that SPF is not directly proportional to its efficacy in preventing sun damage. A SPF 15 sunscreen can filter out 93% of UVB, while a SPF 30 sunscreen filters out 97% of UVB (rather than doubling that of SPF 15).

  • PA (Protection Grade of UVA): This is a system more commonly seen on products from Asian brands as it was originally developed in Japan, but it’s also becoming more commonly displayed on products globally. It is based on the persistent pigment darkening (PPD) method of measuring protection against UVA rays, which typically contributes to skin ageing, similar to the SPF system. The Japan Cosmetic Industry Association states that PA+ is equivalent to a UVA protection factor between 2 and 4, PA++ between 4 and 8, PA+++ to a factor more than 8, and PA++++ to a rating of 16 or above.

  • Ingredients: Whether a sunscreen is physical or chemical has become more important since consumers began using them on a regular, everyday basis rather than only when they were going to spend extended periods of time outdoors. Physical sunscreens, typically containing titanium dioxide or zinc oxide, work by creating a literal layer over your skin to filter out UV radiation, but which may cause a white tinge on your skin, especially if you’re taking photographs. Chemical sunscreens have a wider range of possible ingredients, such as oxybenzone, avobenzone and octinoxate. These are absorbed into your skin and assert their effects within the skin layer, so you don’t look like you’ve applied anything at all.

  • Texture: No matter how amazing a sunscreen’s protective factors are, you aren’t going to reach for it much if you absolutely detest how it feels on your skin, especially on your face. This part is purely up to your personal preference, so it’s important to try out as many brands until you find your perfect, holy grail sunscreen (with appropriately decent levels of protection, of course) which goes hand in hand with the rest of your skincare and makeup regimen.

Here are some sunscreens that we think you should be trying out if you are looking to replace your current one, if you aren’t already using one, or if you simply feel like trying something new!

1. ORBIS Sunscreen on Face

best sunscreens singapore orbis sunscreen on face moist light

SPF: 34

PA: +++

ORBIS has just renewed their bestselling tinted sunscreen range, the Sunscreen on Face, to include better ingredients and an enhanced formula to provide better protection against sun damage, as well as infrared rays and air pollutants. It’s also ultralight, and can even double up as a makeup primer layer underneath your foundation!

The Sunscreen on Face range now contains a Damage Block Veil that shields skin from UV rays. It is also very hydrating to the skin, as it also includes many ingredients commonly found in skincare serums. Its Blend Lighting Powder helps the product to blend in with warmer Asian skintones, and does not leave a white, chalky residue on the skin. The Hybrid Airy Powder has a blurring effect, covering pores while still maintaining the product’s light weight.

Orbis Sunscreen on Face is available in Moist (right; a cream texture weighing 35g) and Light (left; a lotion texture measuring 28ml). Both of these retail for SGD 18 at all ORBIS counters and stores.

2. Sunplay Ultra Shield UV Body Mist

best sunscreens singapore sunplay ultra shield uv body mist

SPF: 130

PA: ++++

We all know the importance of protecting our faces from sun damage, but it’s not like our faces are the only parts exposed to the sun! Yet, we also understand that applying sunscreen to your hands and legs can be really quite a pain to do, especially in the mornings when you’re rushing out of the house.

Enter the new Sunplay Ultra Shield UV Body Mist, which provides fuss-free application of high-protection sunscreen. It includes Solarex-3 technology, which ensures high moisture retention, stability of its protective chemicals, and protects against premature ageing. This sunscreen is lightweight and non-greasy, making for a comfortable and long-lasting wear.

Sunplay Ultra Shield UV Body Mist retails for SGD 21.90 (165 ml) at selected Guardian and Watsons stores.

3. Nivea Protect & Moisture Sun Lotion

best sunscreens singapore nivea protect and moisture sun lotion

SPF: 50

PA: ++

Nivea has long been a major player when it comes to sun protection products, and their sunscreens have been popular with consumers for a long, long time. It’s no surprise that they make our list of sunscreens here.

It not only contains strong UVA and UVB filters, but also panthenol for improvement of skin hydration, glycerin for moisture and Advanced Collagen Protect for prevent wrinkles. and is quickly absorbed into the skin. It is a mixture of physical and chemical sun filters, providing both immediate and effective broad-spectrum sun protection. This sunscreen is suitable for use on both face and body.

best sunscreens singapore nivea max uv sun doll

Purchase SGD 25 worth of Nivea Sun or Lip products and you’ll be able to buy Max the Sun Doll for only SGD 2.90! His skin is made of a UV-sensitive material that turns red when exposed to sunlight, and then back to normal after sunscreen is applied, making him an excellent tool to educate your kids about the importance of sun protection. Max the Sun Doll is sold exclusively in selected Guardian stores and online.

Nivea Protect & Moisture Moisturising Sunscreen Lotion retails for SGD 22.60 for 125 ml, and SGD 8.90 for 50 ml (travel size) at selected drugstores.

4. Supergoop! Everyday Sunscreen

best sunscreens singapore supergoop everyday sunscreen

SPF: 50

Supergoop! was established in 2007 by Holly Thaggard, who had a vision of creating a prestige skincare brand that revolved solely around UV protection. In 2014, she was joined by tennis superstar Maria Sharapova, who would certainly know how it feels like to spend hours and hours under harsh sunshine, and she now co-owns the brand.

Their bestselling hero product, the Everyday Sunscreen, is now reinvented with their new Cellular Response Technology™, a blend of Candle Bush Extract, the ferment of Thermus thermophilus, and Oat Beta-Glucan, is said to actively respond to any skin changes on the cellular level, caused by the sun’s UV rays. It is a chemical sunscreen, as its formula is based on avobenzone. It even includes natural extracts of citrus, basil and boise de rose to ward off the unpleasant ‘sunscreen’ smell.

Supergoop! Everyday Sunscreen retails for SGD 28 (71 ml) at selected Sephora stores.

5. Atopalm Tone Up Sunscreen

best sunscreens singapore atopalm tone up sunscreen

SPF: 50+

PA: ++++

Atopalm is a skincare brand from Korea, and their Tone Up Sunscreen has received positive reviews from users around the world. It contains panthenol, madecassoside, and allantoin as a three-calming complex to soothe and protect skin from external damage.

It also claims to intensely moisturise the skin with its MLE® skin barrier formula, producing skin compounds and structures that closely resemble that of real skin in order to strengthen the skin barrier and retain moisture within the deeper skin layers.

Atopalm Tone Up Sunscreen retails for SGD 31 (30 ml) on Zyfas.