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A smiling woman wearing a straw hat applies sunscreen to her face.

In the ever-evolving world of skin care, one product stands out as an absolute essential: sunscreen. Whether you're a skin care enthusiast or minimalist, daily sunscreen use is non negotiable for maintaining healthy, youthful skin. But if you're unsure how to choose sunscreen for your skin type or what to look for in sunscreen, this simple habit can feel overwhelming.

Well, we've got you covered. Dive in to learn how to choose sunscreen for your unique skin type and tone to take the guesswork out of sun safety.


Why Daily Sunscreen Is Essential

The sun emits harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays that can damage your skin in more ways than one. Prolonged UV exposure can lead to premature aging, such as wrinkles, fine lines, and dark spots, as well as more serious conditions, like skin cancer. By incorporating sunscreen into your daily skin care routine, you provide your skin with a protective barrier against these damaging effects.


What to Look for in Sunscreen for Your Skin Type

Let's face it: with seemingly endless options, shopping for sunscreen can feel like picking a needle out of a haystack. Use this guide to help navigate what to look for in sunscreen based on two key characteristics: skin type and tone.


Man applying a sunscreen swatch to his skin.


Oily or Acne-Prone Skin

Look for oil-free, non-comedogenic formulas that won't clog pores or exacerbate acne. Lightweight lotions or gels with a matte finish are ideal. Try PCA SKIN Weightless Protection Broad Spectrum SPF 45 with nourishing ingredients like Bisabolol, Glycerin, and Cucumber Fruit Extract.


Dry or Sensitive Skin

The best formulas for dry and sensitive skin contain calming, hydrating ingredients to soothe dry skin, fortify the skin's protective barrier, and keep skin feeling comfortable throughout the day. If you have dry skin, try PCA SKIN Hydrator Plus Broad Spectrum SPF 30 for a powerful duo of essential hydrators and antioxidants. If you have sensitive skin, choose a purely physical sunscreen like PCA SKIN Sheer Tint Broad Spectrum SPF 45.


Dark Skin Tones

Despite common misconceptions, people with darker skin tones are susceptible to sun damage and skin cancer and should use sunscreen daily. Opt for a sunscreen that doesn't leave behind a white cast on your skin. Chemical sunscreens, hybrid sunscreens (made with physical and chemical filters), and tinted formulas that neutralize Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide's effects can all work well.


Fair Skin Tones

Those with fair skin are more prone to sunburn and require higher SPF protection. So, choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher to effectively shield your skin, like PCA SKIN Daily Defense Broad Spectrum SPF 50+.


Best Practices for Sunscreen Use

Once you've found a sunscreen that works for you, follow these best practices to allow it to do its job effectively.


Choose Broad-Spectrum Sunscreen

Regardless of your skin type or tone, use sunscreen with broad-spectrum protection. This means it shields against both UVA and UVB rays, which penetrate your skin at different levels and damage your skin in different ways. PCA SKIN offers various broad-spectrum sunscreen options that create a highly effective shield on your skin.


Apply Generously

Apply enough sunscreen for even, thorough coverage. Use at least two finger-lengths of sunscreen for your face and a shot glass-sized amount for your body. Remember to cover frequently overlooked areas such as the ears, neck, and tops of the feet.


Reapply Regularly

Sunscreen degrades and rubs off as the day goes on. Reapplying is key to maintaining protection, especially if you spend extended periods outdoors or engage in water activities. As a general rule, reapply at least every two hours or immediately after swimming or sweating.


Mind the Expiration Date

Like any skin care product, sunscreen expires, so check the expiration date before slathering it on your skin. If you're using sunscreen every day, multiple times a day, this shouldn't be too much of an issue. Still, if you've passed the date printed on the bottle or notice changes in texture, color, or consistency, start fresh to ensure adequate protection.


Boost Protection with Other SPF Products

If you wear makeup, consider incorporating sunscreen into your routine by using a foundation with SPF. You can also find moisturizers and other skin products formulated with SPF. Just remember that this should never replace a dedicated broad-spectrum sunscreen. Instead, think of it as an extra layer of defense.


Sun Protection Made Easy

Sunscreen isn't just another skin care product—it's a vital shield against the sun's harmful rays. By applying broad-spectrum sunscreen every day and following best practices for use, you'll safeguard your skin against premature skin aging and reduce your risk of skin cancer. So, slather on that sunscreen and step out into the world with confidence.


Kaleigh Fasanella
Kaleigh Fasanella is a New Jersey-based beauty and wellness reporter with over a decade of experience writing for both digital outlets and brands. She previously worked at magazines like Allure and Teen Vogue before going freelance to write for a variety of publications. While she loves all aspects of beauty, she's especially passionate about skin care and helping others learn about and care for their skin.