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Tips on how to choose a good sunscreen

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Tips on how to choose a good sunscreen

Sunscreen is a super important part of your skincare routine - whether you’re going somewhere hot on holiday, or just staying at home. It’s important you know how to choose a good sunscreen based on your skin type and personal preference. 
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How to choose the best sunscreen

Whether you’re at the airport stocking up on last minute sunscreen supplies before a holiday, or just looking for something to keep in your bag at home, shopping for sunscreen can be confusing.


With so many products around, it can be difficult to know how to choose the best sunscreen for you.


So with so many variables - how do you choose the best sunscreen for you? And what do all of the acronyms on the bottles mean? Don’t worry - NIVEA is here to answer all of your questions. 

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Picking an SPF

When thinking about how to choose the best sunscreen for you, SPF (Sun Protection Factor) is one of the things you’ll spot first on any bottle of sunscreen. Put simply, SPF is a measure for how much UVB light a suncream can filter out. This means that generally, the higher the SPF value the higher your sunburn protection.  
woman with a volleyball

When it comes to knowing how to choose a good sunscreen you should consider which SPF rating is best for you. This decision will depend of a number of factors:

  • The amount of sunscreen you apply 
  • The number of times you re apply throughout the day
  • Your skin type
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As a general guide, it may also be useful to know that dermatologists give the following advice:

  • SPF 15 - blocks around 93% of UVB rays
  • SPF 30 - blocks around 97% of UVB rays 
  • SPF 50 - blocks around 98% of UVB rays

If you're looking to choose a good sunscreen you should also remember that the SPF is only a measure for UVB rays and doesn’t relate to UVA rays at all.

What are UV filters and how do they work?

UV filters (or ultraviolet filters) is the name given to the chemicals added to sunscreens that are able to absorb or block some of the sun’s UV radiation. When deciding how to choose a good sunscreen it's important to think about whether your sunscreen has the right UV filters and make sure you know which UV rays they can protect against.

UVA, UVB and UVC rays
Sun exposure can lead to UV radiation exposure, which can be categorised into the three types:

UVA rays - Penetrate deep into the skin dermis layer and often cause damage that can lead to skin ageing and wrinkles. These rays can also indirectly lead to cancer, as they damage the proteins responsible for repairing DNA mutations.
UVB rays - Are the rays responsible for causing sunburn. UVB rays have the ability to directly damage your DNA and over exposure to these rays can sometimes lead to skin cancer.
UVC rays - Are known as the most dangerous of the three, but don’t panic, you don’t need to worry about these types of rays as the atmosphere's ozone layer blocks them.
applying suncream

How to choose a good sunscreen and which formula is best for you?

Sunscreen can come in many different forms, from lotions, to dry touch sprays to mists, so to know how to choose a good sunscreen you must think about which formula is best for you.
NIVEA Protect and Moisture Lotion SPF 30

Creams and lotions

Sunscreen creams and lotions are a popular choice, this form of suncream, such as the NIVEA Protect and Moisture Lotion SPF 30, is easy to apply and offers the most moisturising qualities. Most sunscreen creams or lotions will offer a range of options to cater to different skin types. 
NIVEA Kids Protect & Care Coloured Roll-On Green SPF 50+


If you want to be able to carry your suncream, without the risk of spilling, sunscreen sticks may be the right choice for you. You can apply sunscreen sticks directly onto your skin and rub it in. Sunscreen sticks, like NIVEA Kids Protect & Care Coloured Roll-On Green SPF 50+, are great for kids who don’t like the thicker feel of a lotion and can come in colours so you know where is already protected. As they have no risk of leaking they make the perfect option for travel and convenience. 
Nivea Sun Protect Spray


Spray sunscreens are great for getting coverage all over, as they help you apply sunscreen to those hard to reach places on your body. They also feel lighter on the skin than creams or lotions and so make a good option for those with lots of body hair. 

Sprays can also vary in styles, so you can choose a formula depending on your personal preference. Sprays can come as:

  • Traditional spray
  • Dry touch spray
  • Refreshing sun mist
  • Trigger bottle spray

Whatever you decide, all forms of sunscreen should be stored in a cool and dry place for best results and generally speaking, all sunscreens have a shelf life of around three years on average.

Waterproof vs water-resistant sunscreen

Nivea Sun Protect & Bronze

When deciding how to choose a good sunscreen for you you'll need to consider if you need water resistant sunscreen. Whether the sunny weather has you going for a dip in the pool or working up a sweat on a jog you’ll need to know if your sunscreen still works when it's wet. 

When exposed to water sunscreens become less effective. Water resistant sunscreen are sunscreens that are made with ingredients that are resistant to water for a period of time. 

The term ‘waterproof' or 'water resistant' sunscreen is used to refer to those sunscreens that would remain effective for a period of time when swimming or sweating.


These are a great option if you know you are going to get wet, however it is important to remember that water resistant sunscreens will only be water resistant for a period of time and so will need topping up regularly throughout the day.

Choosing sunscreen based on skin type

Another factor when considering how to choose a good sunscreen formula is knowing what your skin type is. If you’re someone who’s prone to spots you may be wondering how to choose sunscreen for oily skin.
Sunscreen for oily skin
If you have oily skin you shouldn't let it deter you from applying suncream, when you know how to choose sunscreen for oily skin you can avoid sun damage without having to settle for greasy skin. 

Knowing what to look for is important, we advise going for oil-free, mineral sunscreens. Avoid any pore-clogging oils as these can activate oil production. Instead look for sunscreens with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide as these offer protection whilst being naturally less comedogenic (acne causing) than chemical ones.  

Sunscreen for acne 
Similarly, these oil-free choices are a good option for those who are worried about the effect of sunscreen on their acne. Choosing non comedogenic sunscreens will help you avoid ingredients that can block your pores.  

Sunscreen for sensitive skin
If you know you have sensitive skin you would also benefit from using natural sunscreens with zinc oxide and titanium oxide, these protect the skin by sitting on top of you skin to form a barrier. 

Sunscreen for dry skin
If you are experiencing dry skin you should choose sunscreens with hydrating ingredients, or alternatively opt for a moisturiser with SPF sunscreen in it.
Nivea Sun Kids Mineral

Tips for sunscreen usage

woman sitting in the sun

Now you know how to choose a good sunscreen you can follow these tips to get the most out of your protection. When applying sunscreen you should:

-Apply the sunscreen generously to all visible skin, including your ears, hands, feet, neck and nose
-Reapply every two hours, more if you are swimming or sweating 
-Apply sunscreen to the top of your head if you are able to or instead wear a hat
-Make sure you read your sunscreen label to know the advised amount to apply and time between applications



Other ways to protect your skin from the sun

Avoid direct sun exposure
You should try to limit the amount of time you spend in the sun, particularly between 10-2pm when the sun’s rays are more intense. Stay in shaded areas wherever you can. 

Keep your skin covered
You can also avoid sun exposure by covering your skin, by wearing loose fitted long sleeve tops and trousers, sunglasses and sun hats when you are outside in the sun.