Back in the day, we didn’t even know what SPF meant. We’d smear ourselves with dark tanning oil that smelled deliciously like coconuts and the beach (or baby oil, in a pinch) before holding a foil-wrapped double album cover under our chins. The idea was to create the perfect bronze tan. It was only later, when we were bubbled with blisters, that we realized frying ourselves like an egg might be a bad idea. But then our tans would fade and we’d take our chances worshipping the sun all over again. No pain, no gain, right?

Enter Sunscreen.

Remember the first incarnations of the stuff? It sat on our skin like grease refusing to absorb and smelled, well, not so yummy. It was a necessary evil, though. The research told us to slather on the goop to avoid further sun damage, burns, and worst of all, those dreaded wrinkles. And we listened.

Nowadays, we’re blessed with fantastic sunscreen options that will not only protect our skin from the sun but will absorb, moisturize, give us a glow, or go on shine-free – all depending on what you’re looking for. These formulations are made to be worn every day, no matter what we’re doing. Before you buy, though, remember to match the sunscreen to your skin and to your routine.

Here’s what to look for when you’re scanning the sunscreen racks, courtesy of Dermalogica Education Manager Holly Sherrard – plus a few of our favourite picks from Dermalogica.



Look for a broad spectrum sunscreen with a minimum SPF 15 (the higher, the better). Keep in mind that UVA and UVB rays vary in length and one sunscreen ingredient may not cover the full spectrum. Make sure that the labelling tells you that the combinations of ingredients used allows for full spectrum protection.


If you’ve got sensitive skin, choose what is known as a physical sunscreen like Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide.  Physical sunscreen deflects the sun’s rays off the skin as opposed to chemical sunscreens which absorb the sun’s rays and change the energy into heat. Chemical sunscreens allow for a velvety, lightweight product which makes them ideal for an oily or acne-prone complexion. 


Ensure the SPF has appropriate ingredients for the type and condition of your skin. For oily skin, look for ingredients like niacinamide, yeast extract and horse chestnut – which help regulate oil production and soothe inflammation. For prematurely aging skin, look for peptides to stimulate collagen production and evening primrose to condition the skin.


Look for updated technologies like Safflower-derived oleosomes, which are sunscreen-filled capsules that provide enhanced moisturization while boosting SPF.  

5.  GET LAYERING       

You’ll want to layer SPF products to enhance protection so pick a sunscreen that’s non-greasy. Options for layering: Choose a moisturizer that includes SPF, top with a primer with SPF, finish off with an SPF foundation. As well, make sure that you’re using enough. Health Canada recommends one teaspoon of sunscreen for the face and neck (most people apply just half of that). 


Ultra-sensitive tint SPF30

5 Tips to Choosing Sunscreen - Dermalogica Ultra-Senstive Tint

Broad Spectrum sunscreen with tinted earth minerals helps guard skin against UV damage with antioxidants from soothing Grape Seed and Green Tea extracts, as physical sunscreens shield against skin-aging and irritating UV damage. Contains exclusive UltraCalmingTM Complex. 

Super sensitive shield SPF 30

5 Tips to Choosing Sunscreen - Dermalogica Super Sensitive Shield

Chemical-free, Broad Spectrum sunscreen helps protect and reinforce barrier lipids, which are often compromised in sensitized skin conditions. Contains exclusive UltraCalming™ Complex. 

Skin Perfect Primer (also part of the age smart line!)

5 Tips to Choosing Sunscreen - Dermalogica Skin Perfect Primer

Smooth away fine lines, brighten and prime for flawless skin, and to prep for makeup application. Velvety silicones create an instantly smooth surface. Pearl powder and natural earth minerals provide a neutral tint to help balance tone and enhance luminosity. Peptides and AGE Smart® actives help firm and shield against MMP and free radical damage, as sunscreens shield against sun damage. Formulated without artificial fragrances and colours.

Do you have a sunburn horror story? What are your sun care tips?

photo credit: aeter via photopin cc

About the author

Randi Chapnik Myers

Randi Chapnik Myers is Co-Founder and Content Editor of, the only lifestyle site by women 35+ for women 35+. A journalist, blogger, editor and marketer, she specializes in custom content creation for publications, companies, brands and authors at Proud to call herself a social media addict, Randi is never far from a screen—even when she's out hunting for designer bargains.

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