How Does Sunscreen Work- Here’s an Enlightening Guide for You

Peace Adekoya
6 min readDec 29, 2021

The use of sunscreen has been an important step in every morning skincare routine since its inception. Using it will help to protect your skin from any sun damage that can occur due to exposure to UV rays. You may be wondering, how does sunscreen work?

It works to safeguard your skin by preventing and assimilating the sun’s UV rays before it extends to damage the skin. It does this by combining both physical and chemical elements — which work differently as a layer of protection to the skin.

The physical elements include zinc oxide and titanium dioxide — which help to redirect the UV radiation from the skin. The chemical components work hand-in-hand with the physical elements to stop UV rays from penetrating and damaging the skin.

Read ahead to find out more information about how sunscreen works to provide maximum protection for your skin and how to choose the right one for you.

How Does Sunscreen Work For Skin Protection?

Sunscreen fulfills its purpose as a physical sunblock to save your skin from sun damage. It is available in different forms such as spray, wax, lotion, or gel. These products work by either redirecting sunlight away from your skin or by inundating it.

This means that they either work as a layer of protection to stop the skin from getting on the skin, or by averting the rays away from the skin.

There are two major varieties of UV rays and they are — UVA and UVB. When UVA penetrates deep into the skin, it causes sunspots and premature skin aging. UVB radiation is responsible for causing sunburn on the skin. The two variations can even cause skin cancer.

This is where sunscreen becomes a very useful part of your daily skincare routine. It will help to stop any form of UV rays that can damage the skin. With the right one, you do not need to worry about sunburns or spots.

Physical chemicals like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are minerals that protect the skin from the sun by blocking UV rays. Organic components like avobenzone and oxybenzone help to soak in UV rays before the skin does.

Once the sunscreen absorbs UV rays, the chemical compounds in the sunscreen break down. This is because of the chemical bond it has with the radiation.

What Does Sunscreen Do?

Aside from protecting the skin from sunburn, using your sunscreen daily does other benefits to the skin. Regular usage may help to reduce the appearance of aging signs on your skin. This may also help to prevent the development of aging signs on the skin.

Exposing your skin to the sun with protection can damage the collagen in your skin. This results in the formation of aging signs like wrinkles on the skin. Likewise, the skin will lose its elasticity because of collagen breakdown in the skin.

It may also prevent the formation of aging and sunspots on the skin. It will reduce the risk of skin cancer.

SEE: How to Exfoliate Lips: 3 Easy Methods That Works

How to Choose the Right Sunscreen

It is important to consider certain things when looking to purchase sunscreen. This will help to ensure that it provides maximum protection from sun damage to your skin. Below are a few pointers to guide you:

1. Opt for a broad-spectrum sunscreen

When choosing a sunscreen, the first thing to look for is one with the “broad spectrum” label. This label is to certify that the product can protect the skin from both variations of ultraviolet radiation.

Although every sunscreen product can protect the skin from UVB rays — the primary cause of skin cancer, only a product labeled “broad-spectrum” can block out UVA from the skin.

Products with this label are tested by the FDA to help protect the skin from both forms of UV rays. Also, inorganic chemicals such as titanium dioxide, avobenzone, sin dioxide, and Mexoryl SX are active ingredients to look for. These ingredients also work to protect the skin from UVA and UVB.

2. Consider the sun protection factor(SPF) in the product

You may think SPF is the strength of protection the product has. However, it is the extent to which the product can help to protect your skin from the sun’s UV rays. This equals how long it will take your sunscreen to last on your skin to protect it.

The minimum you should use is SPF 30, and you could go higher. The higher the amount of SPF, the more UV ray it will block out. An SPF 30 will help to filter out about 90% of UVB rays while a higher one will filter out more.

However, no sunscreen can help to block out UV rays completely. Therefore, make it a priority to reapply your sunscreen throughout the cat if you know your skin will be exposed to the sun for prolonged periods.

Apply it on your skin at the end of your everyday skincare routine and every two hours of exposing your skin to direct sunlight.

3. Ensure that the product is water-resistant.

Water-resistance differs greatly from waterproofing. No sunscreen is waterproof but some are water-resistant. This will help to keep the sun’s protection from being washed off by water or sweat. Most water-resistant sunscreen can resist water for about 40 to 60minutes.

It is necessary to pick a water-resistant sunscreen to help protect your skin from the sun even as you swim or sweat.

4. Consider your skin type

There is a sunscreen that works for every skin type. However, certain skin types should avoid certain ingredients when trying to pick the right sunscreen. This will help to save your skin from reacting harshly to the ingredient in the product.

If you have oily skin, your skin is most likely acne-prone. Therefore, make it a priority to avoid comedogenic products that can block your pores and lead to breakouts. Opt for an SPF 30 or higher product that is non-comedogenic.

If your skin falls in the dry skin category, ensure that the product you choose contains moisturizing properties such as hyaluronic acid, ceramide, and so on. This will help to seal in moisture on your skin. Avoid harsh ingredients that can fry out your skin such as chemicals or alcohol.

For sensitive skin, you should also avoid ingredients that can irritate your skin. Look for inorganic chemicals such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. These ingredients will help to guard your skin by building a protective barrier on your skin. They are less likely to burn, sting, or irritate your skin.

How to Apply Sunscreen on Your Skin

Here’s a guide to assist you in using your sunscreen correctly:

  • Shake the container to mix the ingredients before using it.
  • Squirt out about an ounce of it on your palm and apply it to your skin.
  • Be sure to apply enough on the parts of your skin that will be exposed to the sun when you are outdoors. This includes your ears, back, shoulders, and the back of the knees and legs.
  • Avoid getting it into your eyes.

SEE: How to Cure Chapped Lips: Effective Natural Remedies and Preventive Measures

Frequently Asked Questions

Is sunscreen safe to use for everyone?

Yes, it is. Both the physical and chemical sunscreen have been confirmed safe to use by all.

However, physical and inorganic sunscreens are the best option as they are less likely to irritate the skin. Chemical sunscreens are more likely to cause skin irritation.

When should I apply sunscreen?

Apply it every day in your morning routine. It is best used 30 minutes before leaving your home to expose your skin to direct sunlight.

Remember to keep reapplying the sunscreen once every two hours of exposure to the sun to ensure maximum protection.

What type of sunscreen should I use?

A water-resistant broad-spectrum sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher. This will help to protect your skin from both forms of ultraviolet radiation.


Sunscreen provides you with the adequate protection that your skin needs to stay protected from sun damage. Pick the right sunscreen to ensure maximum protection of your skin without irritating your skin.

Follow the guide in the article to help to choose the right sunscreen and to use it correctly on your skin. As you do this, ensure that you also wear protective clothing to keep your skin from exposure to the sun.

Thanks for reading.

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Peace Adekoya

Writing engaging content (landing pages, product descriptions, sales copy, blog posts, etc.) that helps increase visibility, attract leads, clicks, conversion.