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SPF 101

23.09.2022 | Skincare

SPF is the most important step in your skincare routine and everybody should wear it, every day. If you want to learn more about SPF, why you should wear it and some tips, then keep reading… 

What is SPF?

SPF is the most important step in your skincare routine for all skin types and tones, all day every day. The SPF meaning stands for sun protection factor and the succeeding number represents how long it will take for the UVB rays to penetrate and begin to redden the skin in comparison to not wearing sunscreen at all.


UV radiation is part of the natural energy that the sun produces, the two types you might hear about the most in regard to SPF are UVA and UVB rays:

  1. UVA has a longer wavelength that penetrates deeper into the skin, associated with skin aging.
  2. UVB has a shorter wavelength that has more of an effect on the top layers of skin, associated with skin burning.

Both these types of UV can be harmful to the skin if left unprotected, which could lead to skin damage, premature aging, dark spots and even a higher risk of skin cancer. A broad spectrum SPF means it offers protection against UVA (the rays you can't see) and UVB (the rays you can see).

Why do we need to wear SPF?

You can have your skincare regimen down to a tee but, without a solid SPF, you can be undoing a lot of the hard work you and your products are putting in.  

Certain products can make your skin more sensitive to UV rays as well as reducing the efficiency of the product itself. Retinol Serum is a prime example of this which is why it’s advised for the PM of your routine only. As it’s easing away layers of the skin and speeding up regeneration, even if only used in the PM, we still highly advise using good SPF in your AM to support its use. 

Similarly, if using products such as Tranexamic Acid Serum or Alpha Arbutin Serum to target dark spots and hyperpigmentation, without using an SPF this can have a counter-balancing effect as the sun damage will hinder any results and potentially worsen dark marks.

Not wearing SPF can also accelerate the signs of aging and increase wrinkles, fine lines and uneven skin tone. This is because the UV rays penetrate the skin and damage the elastin fibres which keep the skin firm and supple and trigger dark ‘age’ spots. Regularly wearing SPF is one of the best ways to protect and prevent the appearance of aging skin.

MINERAL vs CHEMICAL SUNSCREEN: What’s the difference?

When shopping for a sunscreen, you’ll come across the two most common types, mineral (physical) and chemical. Both are effective in different ways but here’s the main differences and how to know which one to pick:

The best mineral sunscreens are made up of mineral ingredients such as titanium dioxide or zinc oxide, which act as a shield to block the UV rays. However, mineral sunscreens can sometimes feel thicker or heavier on the skin and even be difficult to blend in. Zinc Oxide is a white mineral and there is potential to leave a white residue on the skin, across all skin tones however this may appear more pronounced on darker skin tones. In our SPF 30 Daily Sunscreen, we have taken measures to reduce this and enhance usability by using the least whitening grade of Zinc Oxide and adding a low level non-cosmetic tint to help balance this. This is not to colour match skin tone, but to offset the Zinc and aid blending into the skin.

Chemical sunscreens use filters that create a chemical reaction, changing the UV rays into heat which then gets released from your skin. These types of sunscreen are often more comfortable to wear, easier to blend and apply. However, they can sometimes be irritating to those with sensitive skin.

Whichever type you choose, sunscreens that offer ‘broad-spectrum’ protection are best as this means you’ll be protected against both UVA and UVB rays!


Our daily SPF 30 Sunscreen offers broad spectrum protection from both UVA and UVB rays. ​This 100% Mineral formula, containing Zinc Oxide, is non-comedogenic and non-irritating. Free from silicone, essential oils, reef safe and pregnancy safe. We are proud to say that it's reef safe, cruelty free and vegan friendly. To help enhance usability we have added a low level non-cosmetic tint to help counter balance and assist blending into the skin. This non-pilling formula is perfect for layering with other skincare and make-up products, leaving a soft-touch velvet finish.

HOW TO USE: Use as the last stage of your AM routine after your moisturiser. We recommend leaving for 2-3 minutes post application before makeup application and at least 15 minutes before sun exposure.


Yes, is the short answer.  You might not think it but even on cloudy days or days spent inside, UV rays can still reach you and potentially damage your skin. Sunlight makes its way through windows and we’re typically outside at some point in the day so, unless you’re permanently in a windowless, dark room, you should be wearing some sort of sun protection.

You can however tailor the strength you use based on your activity. For example, minimal sun exposure or outside time throughout the day may only require an SPF 15 whilst for prolonged exposure or when spending time outside, SPF 30 or higher is advised. SPF 30 is a good and safe mid-benchmark for your daily routine to ensure the majority of UVB rays are blocked (and it’s good to note that no sunscreen can block all rays.)

If you’re using products that can cause photosensitivity such as Retinol, acne prescriptions or exfoliating acids, then it’s important to wear SPF in the daytime to prevent any potential damage to your skin.


HOW TO APPLY:  Sunscreens have different textures and thickness so there isn’t really one rule for all, always check the products instructions, apply liberally and if in doubt applying half a teaspoon amount to the face and neck is a good rule to follow. Make sure to apply sunscreen to often missed areas like ears, eyelids and neck. Apply sunscreen at least 20-30 minutes before spending time in the sun. Sunscreen wears off throughout the day due to sweat, face touching or even weather conditions. You should reapply every couple of hours for maximum protection. 

MAKE UP: If you’re wearing makeup and don’t want to disturb it, you could look for an SPF in a spray or powder form. If your makeup has an SPF equal to or higher than that of the SPF, the SPF value should be maintained if mixed with makeup, however we wouldn't suggest mixing with make-up that doesn't provide any SPF protection. 

CHOOSING YOUR SPF: Find an SPF that not only offers good protection, but one that you really like and enjoy applying to ensure that it is one you are more likely to apply and wear daily!

SKINCARE ROUTINE: Don’t forget to cleanse properly after wearing sunscreen to prevent blocked pores and breakouts. We suggest a double cleanse, first with an oil-based cleanser and then a water/gel cleanser. Try our Oat Cleansing Balm, then following with Salicylic Acid Cleanser or any other of our INKEY List cleanser suited to your skin type. When choosing your SPF, look for non-comedogenic ingredients that won’t clog your pores, allowing the skin to breath still. 

Shop The INKEY List Cleansers

SHADE YOUR SKIN: Seek the shade. As much as we love to bask in the sunshine when it appears, give yourself regular breaks from those UV rays. Wear sun protective clothing such as wide-brimmed hats, sunglasses and layers to shelter exposed skin from the sun and keep the body cool. 

Want to know more about our SPF or how to build it into your routine? For any further questions or advice, contact the team at #askINKEY!

Photo of Written by one of our askINKEY skincare advisors

Written by one of our askINKEY skincare advisors

Our askINKEY team are available 24/7 on our live chat. A friendly bunch, all experts with deep product knowledge, ready to make skincare as simple as possible. Whether you are an ingredient expert or starting your journey, no question is too big or too small, no judgement or jargon, we’re here to help and be part of your journey.