It has never been a secret that continuous exposure to the sun without adequate protection can result in some serious skin damage, often irreversible. While the immediate effects of sun damage may not be apparent at first, they do manifest over time, often as aesthetic signs – from pronounced wrinkles to a dark spot here and there to accelerated ageing.
For a long time, I was amongst those individuals guilty of not using sunscreen – I just never liked the heavy feeling it left behind on my skin, not to mention that dreaded white cast either. Being a person of colour, with what I considered as a sufficient supply of melanin, I did not place much importance in the use of these products, even more so as I strictly reduced the amount of time I spent out in the sun (because South Africa is not known for its snow).
All the while, I failed to recognize that I was, in fact, committing a grave beauty sin; and this soon came to light when I first began to notice a few freckles developing on my nose. Initially, I thought they were cutest thing ever, but when one turned to two, and then two became a dozen, lets just say that I started to panic. It was then that I realized that I could no longer forego sunscreen in my skincare routine, and thus began my search into finding a good sunscreen product for my skin.
Terms like “SPF”, “PA+++”, “Broad-spectrum” had very little meaning to me at first, and I was daunted by the task of selecting the right sunscreen product. So, here are some general details about sunscreens that I have stumbled upon while searching for sunscreen products:
What is Sunscreen?
Sunscreens are essentially products containing ingredients that help to safeguard your skin against the harmful radiation emitted from the sun. Sunscreen protects against sun damage; as well as against the accumulation of free radicals*, which often leads to cell damage and sometimes, skin cancer.
Ultraviolet (UV) radiation emitted from the sun takes three forms i.e. UVA, UVB and UVC. Fortunately, UVC is of little consequence when it comes to protecting your skin against sun damage.
What are UVA and UVB?
The most noteworthy difference between these two forms of radiation is that the UVA refers to longer wave UV rays, whilst UVB are composed of short waves. UVA rays can cause significant skin damage (even more than UVB), ageing and skin cancer. UVB, on the other hand, is also responsible for the aforementioned, in addition to sunburn.
Interestingly, while normal glass can block UVB radiation, UVA rays are still able to penetrate through glass. So, while you may think that you are safe indoors and have little need to worry about sun protection, this may not necessarily be the case if you happen to sit in front of a window for extended periods of time during the day.
What is SPF?
Often, we see “SPF” on many sunscreen products, but many of us fail to understand what it actually means. First of all, SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor and it is a measure of how well a certain sunscreen product performs in protecting your skin against sun damage, usually from UVB radiation.
SPF can range anywhere from 1 – 90, and this rating usually indicates the amount of time you can spend outside in the sun before your skin starts to burn.
So, for instance, if your skin starts to burn after 10 minutes of sun exposure (without any sunscreen at all), this would mean that a sunscreen product with SPF 45, for example, would offer 45 x 10 minutes (450 minutes) worth of protection from sunburn.
For additional information, check out this website.
What is PA+++?
This is sometimes seen on a few sunscreen products, but what does it actually mean? PA refers to a rating system (i.e. Protection Grade of UVA), commonly used in some Asian countries and it is a measure of UVA protection. Often, this is accompanied by a plus sign “+” , which indicates the amount of protection offered against UVA rays, i.e. PA+, PA++ and so on and so forth.
What is Broad-spectrum Sunscreen?
This sort of sunscreen, also known as sunblock, is capable of protecting against both types of UV radiation, i.e. UVA and UVB. Often, the consistency of this type of sunscreen is dense in nature and can contain titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. Sunscreens containing these ingredients are referred to as “physical sunblocks”, because they are not absorbed by the skin and merely serve to reflect light. Often, sunscreens with titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are responsible for the white cast appearance on the skin with its use.
Choosing the Right Sunscreen…
With quite a number of sunscreen products on the market, the task of choosing the right one can be overwhelming. I think a main concern that many people have (myself included) when it comes to sunscreens is that some are known to clog pores, and the last thing anyone wants to experience are breakouts, at the expense of sun protection.
I admit that my aversion towards using sunscreens, in general, stems from the fact that many of them have a tendency of leaving behind an unflattering white cast, which on me looks grey, particularly as I suffer from hyperpigmentation.
So, when I came across the Benefit Dream Screen SPF 45 PA+++, my interest was piqued. I have been using this product for several months now, and I must admit that I quite like it. I dare not venture out in the sun without having it on.
This product claims to be a matte sunscreen that protects against sun damage and that is:
- Absorbed instantly
- Moisturizing on the skin
- Fragrance free
- Protects against both UVA (PA+++) and UVB (SPF 45) rays.
Texture, Coverage, & Finish:
The Dream Screen is fluid in consistency with a milky appearance. Its texture feels silky on the skin, as well as velvety to the touch. Upon application, this product goes on effortlessly, drying down to a matte finish on the skin.
It should be noted, however, that upon application, this product does leave a sheen on the skin initially, however this soon dissipates once the sunscreen has completely set (after 10-20 seconds). Obviously, this may be subject to your skin type and the climate in which you live in – my skin type, for instance, is dry/normal and living in Johannesburg, the climate tends to be a bit drier without any issues of high humidity.
How to Use:
As per the instructions on the packaging, it is necessary that the product is well-shaken prior to use, as it does tend to separate. For me personally, I use a little less than a teaspoon amount of product, which is sufficient to cover my entire face and neck.
The sunscreen wears beautifully both under make-up, as well as on its own. This product can be worn over moisturizer; however, the product can be moisturizing by itself. In addition, the Dream Screen does not leave any white cast and having sensitive skin, I have not experienced any forms of breakouts or other skin reactions while using it.
This product is not waterproof or sweat-proof, so further applications may be required if you intend to be out in the sun for extended periods of time.
I also love that this sunscreen does not have a scent to it, being a bit finicky when it comes to overpowering fragrances.
This sunscreen comes in a mint-green plastic bottle, with a cork-like cap. Aside from the aesthetic appeal of the packaging, the bottle is rather sturdy and makes for easy traveling as well. The bottle also has a squeeze-like nozzle, making it hygienic and ensuring that you are able to control the amount of product dispensed at any given time.
Ingredients: (obtained from the official Benefit Cosmetics website)
Active Octinoxate 7.50%, Octisalate 5.00%, Avobenzone 3.00%. Inactive C1215 Alkyl Benzoate, Aqua (Water), Butylene Glycol, Polymethylsilsesquioxane, Polymethyl Methacrylate, Isononyl Isononanoate, Methyl Methacrylate Crosspolymer, Dicaprylyl Carbonate, Glycerin, Vinyl Dimethicone/Methicone Silsesquioxane Crosspolymer, Pentylene Glycol, Polyglyceryl6 Polyricinoleate, Phenoxyethanol, Sodium Chloride, Polyglyceryl2 Isostearate, Tetrasodium EDTA, Tocopherol, Stearyl Glycyrrhetinate
At the time upon purchase, I had paid R395.00 for this product. It now retails for R445.00 at selected Red Square and Edgars stores.
The sunscreen is definitely very lightweight on the skin, and does not feel sticky at all nor is it heavy on the skin. I love its formula and that it can be worn with or without makeup. More importantly, I love the sun protection this product offers, i.e. that it is a broad spectrum sunscreen protecting against both UVA and UVB.
Have you tried this sunscreen? What are your thoughts on it? What is your holy grail sunscreen product? I would love to know.
The only fault that I can find with this product is its price – I just wish it was not on the expensive side.
Thank you for reading this post. It is very much appreciated.
I have purchased this product with my own money. All thoughts and opinions are that of my own. Please bear in mind that while this product may work for me, it may not necessarily work for you.