What You Need to Know About Sunscreen

sunshine _butterboom
By Butterboom Writers  /  June 17, 2016

Sure, HK has seen a few rainy days lately, but the temperature is up and when the sun is out, it’s important to have your skin protected. A sunburn isn’t exactly the greatest accessory to have, especially when the season calls for showing some skin! 

We speak to Lumioula Kuo, founder of Lumbebe, a new beauty line from Taiwan that is based on scientific research. With a background in Chemical Engineering and over 20 years experience in the beauty industry consulting top international beauty brands on skincare formulas and marketing strategies, she shares with us what’s what with all the ingredients we find in our sunscreen and how to protect our skin against the sun. 

What are the active ingredients in sunscreen that blocks the harmful UVA and UVB rays?

There are two types – physical sunscreen uses key active ingredients that are made of mineral like zinc, they sit on top of the skin and does not get absorb, acting as a reflector of the sun’s ray. On the packaging they can be identified as  TiO2 (Titanium Dixoide), ZnO (Zinc Oxide) and Talc. 

Chemical ingredients are absorbed into the skin and contain carbon compounds made in a lab. Instead of reflecting the sun’s ray, they absorb then. Common chemical ingredients found on sunscreen are –  Methoxy Cinnamate(OMC), Salicyates, P-amino benzoic acid, benzophenone, Mexoryl SX,XL (Loreal has a patent on this ingredient so you see it in all of their sunscreen products). 

Harmful ingredients to avoid in sunscreen?
Oxybenzone (Benzophenone-X), Vitamin A (Retinyl Palmitate) are ingredients to avoid as they react and changes their chemical compound when exposed to UV rays for over a period of time and can cause skin allergies and damages to your skin. Other ingredients to avoid are those that contains unstable and mutable chemical compounds like Parabenes and Phenoxyethanol that may cause damage to your skin. 

What’s the difference between SPF 30 and SPF 50?
The bigger number doesn’t really mean higher protection, in fact there is really not much difference between SPF 30 and SPF 50, with only one to two per cent more of the sun block ingredients. The body can protect itself from the sun for 10 minutes naturally. SPF 30+ means the sunscreen can protect the skin 300 minutes more than your body can naturally. So SPF 50 means that the sunscreen can protect your skin 500 minutes longer. What you should be looking at also is the phrase ‘broad spectrum’ printed on the label, this means that the sunscreen protects against both UVA and UVB rays.

How long does can you keep sunscreen for?
Usually good for up to six months once you open the bottle. However if you leave it out in the sun, best to toss in three months.

What’s the best way to apply sunscreen?
After cleansing your face, tone, hydrate with anti-ageing cream or serum, then apply sunscreen before your foundation. However there are sunscreens these days that combine moisturiser and comes with a tint so you can skip the foundation for these products.

Are all sunscreens water repellent?
Sweat and water can wash away sunscreen; there are no sunscreen that is water repellent, don’t believe the marketing hype! Active ingredients that protects from the sun’s UV rays usually looses their protective function in three to four hours so reapplying is essential if you are outside and have direct exposure to the sun. However if you’re mostly indoors all day and only out of the office during lunch time, there’s no need to reapply. 

Is it true that a dose of sun is a good thing?
Having talked about the sun being harmful to our skin, it is important also to mention that the sun, being the source of light for the planet is essential to our well being. It provides our primary source of vitamin D, which is made by our bodies through its exposure to the sun’s UVB rays on our skin. Vitamin D is essential for absorbing calcium and for protecting against diseases like osteoporosis, diabetes so don’t hide completely from the sun.  The best time we should go out in the sun without sunblock is in the morning, the breaking of dawn and in the evening when the sun’s radiation is not so strong. Stay for 15 minutes and soak in the healing light that energises us as human beings.

Our sunscreen recommendations:

Caudalie_sunscreenClaudalie Broad Spectrum SPF20 Anti-Wrinkle Protection 

Clinique city block_butterboomClinique Super City Block SPF 40

clarins sunscreenClarins UV Plus, SPF 40


Kiehl’s Ultra Light Daily UV Defence SPF 50

la-roche-posay-anthelios-xl-spf50-ultra-lightLa Roche Posay Antheliox XL SPF 50+


Tacha sunscreenTatcha Silken, SPF 35 – Pic from hotsytotsybeauty.com



Leave a Reply