As most of us are now working from home due to circuit breaker measures, our skincare regimes have adjusted to a more simplified lifestyle. Though that may be the case, there are still a couple of beauty manifestos that should remain non-negotiable–sunscreen being one of them.
The benefits of sunscreen are distinguished in their own right; amongst many superlatives, it helps protect your skin, reduce the appearance of sun damage, slow down signs of aging, and decrease the risk for skin cancer. So even if we’re spending most of our time indoors working from home, sunscreen should still remain an essential step.
There are three types of damaging sun rays: UVA, UVB, and blue light. UVB has a shorter wavelength and is responsible for surface damage of the skin, causing immediate signs of skin damage and sunburns. The plus side is that most windows nowadays filter UVB rays out.
However, UVA has a longer wavelength and can penetrate through glass. So even if you’re staying indoors and working from home, you’re still exposing your skin to UVA rays, especially if you’re working near a window or in a room with natural light. UVA rays also penetrate past the epidermis, the surface layer of your skin, and can degrade your collagen levels, cause wrinkles and ageing signs, and put you at risk for skin cancer.
Blue light comes from the sun, and due to the nature of its short wavelength and high energy levels, it has the ability to penetrate past the dermis, deeper than UVA and UVB rays. A study done by the Journal of Investigative Dermatology in 2010 showed that exposure to blue light produces pigmentation and redness in the skin. Blue light is also emitted by smartphones, computers, and fluorescent light–devices that we are exposed to on a regular basis. But it’s important to note that most studies measuring the effects of blue light were tested on bright white screens, which is an inflated indication of normal use. So for most people, blue light from screens is not worth worrying about unless you’re undergoing a medical treatment that makes you extremely sensitive to visible light.
The effects of UVA, UVB, and blue light exposure are lasting on the skin and the most effective way to combat this is to wear sunscreen daily, and more specifically at this time, wear sunscreen indoors.
The approach to finding the most effective sunscreen is twofold: take a closer look at the minerals and the sun protection factor (SPF).
(1) Choose sunscreens that contain minerals like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. The two work together by reflecting UV rays and protect your skin from sun damage. Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are gentle minerals that are friendly for skin that’s sensitive and prone to redness.
(2) Select broad spectrum sunscreens. Broad spectrum sunscreens will have a proportionate level of protection against UVA and UVB rays. Though you might have also seen sunscreens with a PA grading system, most commonly with Japanese sunscreens. This grading system is based on the persistent pigmentation darkening test (PPD test) and it measures how much UVA you can be exposed to before your skin tans. The grading system ranges from PA+ to PA++++, where the maximum of PA++++ has a PPD value of 16 and so theoretically it means that the person should be able to endure at least 16 times the UVA radiation before their skin tans.
Of course, it is important to note that there is no sunscreen that can filter out 100 per cent of UV rays. A sunscreen with SPF 15 will filter out about 93 per cent of UV rays, SPF 30 will filter out 97 per cent, and SPF 50+ will filter out 98 per cent. For that reason, consider doubling up with antioxidant serums, as they can provide a recourse and pick up where your sunscreen’s coverage leaves off.
“Good antioxidants to go for include vitamin C, astaxanthin and DMAE, which can help neutralise free radical damage and protect the skin against oxidative stress. Use it at least once a day, but if you would like to have maximal impact, you can reapply it again at night as well.” says Dr Low Chai Ling, founder and medical director of SW1 Clinic.
A sunscreen’s indicated SPF is a measure of the effects of direct exposure to daylight, so if you’re staying indoors and working from home, you should not need to reapply it frequently if you’re applying the right amount. According to Dr Low, “You should apply sunscreen every morning. If you are prone to sweating, you may want to freshen your skin by reapplying it again later in the day.”
However, if you’re going out for a walk, or on an errands run, then the frequency will vary depending on your exposure to the sun. The general rule of thumb is to reapply sunscreen every two hours if you’re spending more time in direct sunlight.
Now that you know why you should wear sunscreen indoors, here’s a compilation of the best sun protection products to carry you through your WFH days and beyond:
The Skin Protect Spray is composed of a lightweight oil gel texture, making it easy for application and reapplication. Formulated with a trademark Tough Boost technology, its friction-resistant lasting polymers are said to make it sweat, friction, and water-resistant up to temperatures of 40 C and humidity levels of up to 75 per cent–an essential in Singapore’s climate.
A “screen protector” in a bottle, this serum is a WFH must. It works as an invisible shield to protect your skin from blue light and infra-red light and blocks environmental pollutants that lead to hyperpigmentation, acne, and wrinkles. Pair this with your favourite sunscreen for maximum protection.
Beyond Sun Protection is a sunscreen cream that offers more than 50 per cent protection against blue light along with a coverage of SPF 79.7 and PA++++. This sunscreen took more than five years in its making to perfect its remarkably light texture. It’s hypoallergenic, non-comedogenic, and non-acnegenic, so it is gentle on sensitive skin and keeps it from clogging your pores or causing acne. Plus, it promises to increase skin moisture by 32 per cent after 27 days of use.
This non-comedogenic sunscreen is perfected for daily use, to provide all-day hydration with a matte finish. Enhanced with ingredients like cellulospheres, baicalin, and vitamin E, it protects your skin from environmental aggressors like UVA and UVB rays and neutralises skin-damaging free radicals while providing an added boost of moisture.
This sun protection mist is ideal for coverage for your face, body, and hair. If you’re looking to wear sunscreen indoors, here’s one to start with. The unique formula of ubiquinone and rutin protects against blue light exposure and UV rays, and extracts of licorice and arbutin reduce redness and pigmentation in your skin.
Use it over your scalp to protect your hair colour, and spritz on your face and body for antibacterial, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory benefits.
Formulated with antioxidants like cherry blossom, lemon balm and white tea extract, the Chantecaille Ultra Sun Protection defends the skin against free radical damages, as well as UVA and UVB rays.
This lightweight broad spectrum sunscreen is fortified with powerful antioxidants that shield the skin from environmental aggressors. The naturally derived botanicals work in line with your skin to help repair skin and brighten dark spots. Wear this alone or as a primer for a smooth canvas.
Water-resistant and lightweight, this Korean sunscreen protects your skin from the harmful rays. Composed of soothing mint water and other botanical extracts, it balances the level of oil and moisture levels in your skin to keep it hydrated and shine-free.
Beyond the basics of protecting the skin against UVA and UVB rays, this sunscreen contains a trademark Pearl Powder that reportedly control sebum production throughout the day, keeping excessive shine at bay. Enriched with minerals and amino acids, the CNP Laboratory Tone-Up Protection Sun locks in the moisture and brightens skin tone.
If you’re looking to kickstart your routine of wearing sunscreen indoors, consider the Sun Mist. Sheer in its non-greasy and ultra-lightweight formula, this sunscreen sprays evenly and its soothing botanical assortments of chamomile, aloe leaf, and bamboo extracts soothe the skin while reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
The UV Essentiel, in a lightweight milky formula, is designed with an adaptive and powerful technology that makes it resilient to the exposure of UV rays, pollution, and free radicals.
Formulated with ingredients that help prevent skin damage caused by UV rays and protect the skin from photo-ageing, this sunscreen is water-resistant and perfect for daily use. 50 per cent of the sunscreen includes skincare ingredients, such as super hyaluronic acid, which reduces the visibility of fine lines and keeps the skin moisturised and nourished.
Using Block Brightening technology, this sunscreen brightens and protects the skin from harmful environmental aggressors like UV rays and micro dust particles. It helps to prevent skin pigmentation and reduce the appearance of wrinkles.