Choosing an SPF for Your Face

It is THE most crucial part of your skincare routine and the very best thing you can do to prevent advanced ageing, skin cancers and other sun damage. 

So, how do you choose an SPF for your face? Here are the factors we consider when helping clients choose. 

1. Think about your lifestyle

How much sun exposure do you have? What activities do you do? Some outdoor sport and exercise? Gardening? Everyday working and running around after the kids? A day at the beach? Just like foundation, you may need a few for different occasions. 

Pro tip ~ "I use an SPF30 for everyday use. I’m treating pigmentation, so for walks, beach days and any other outdoor activity I use a chemical SPF50, plus my fave SPF50 zinc." - Renae, Dermal Therapist

2. SPF50, 30 or 15? 

Consider your skin type and concerns, plus its sun protection needs. So if you have pigmentation, acne scarring, or fair skin, you’ll need an SPF50 for all activities. This will provide you with that extra level of protection and longevity. For others, SPF30 may be sufficient. All need to be reapplied throughout the day, so see the guidelines below on reapplication. 

One difference between SPF50 and 30 is that there are fewer chemicals in the SPF30, so those with sensitive skin may prefer it. Another difference is the length of time you’re protected for. You may be surprised to learn that the difference in protection time is just 3.75 minutes. 

Pro tip ~ The sun’s harmful rays can reflect off outdoor surfaces; sitting by a window can cause sun damage too.

So if you’re exercising and working at home, and don’t think you need an SPF; think again! SPF15 may be perfect for you. Dermalogica’s Prisma Protect is SPF15 and leaves a dewy, subtle finish making it ideal for video calls, too! Remember to reapply!

Unsure which SPF is right for you? Our team of Dermal Therapists can prescribe one to suit your lifestyle, skin type and concerns.  

SPF 50 or 30?

3. Do I need a chemical or physical SPF?

This topic is a big one, and we could do an entire post about this one question! But for most people it comes down to your unique skin type, the treatments you’re having, and a matter of preference: do you prefer a sunscreen with chemical blockers or physical blockers? 

A chemical SPF’s prominent active ingredient is oxybenzone. It travels through skin, creating an umbrella-like shield, protecting your cells from UVA and UVB damage. Some people prefer not to use chemical SPFs because they're absorbed into the skin.  

A physical SPF’s prominent active ingredient is zinc oxide. It isn’t absorbed into the skin, and instead sits on top, acting as a blocker. The sun’s rays hit the top surface of the skin, then bounce and reflect off. We recommend physical SPFs for those with sensitive or barrier-impaired skin. Dermalogica's Invisible Physical Defence is our top pick.  

Pro tip ~ Those with congested and acne-prone skin types generally don’t like SPF, but definitely NEED it! Be sure to double-cleanse to remove SPF and exfoliate regularly to prevent product build-up and further congestion.  

4. Pump up the benefits 

SPFs have come a long way from the opaque SPFs around when we started in the industry twenty years ago! Most are now near-invisible and have added ingredients to target ageing and to treat the skin. Think organic oils and hyaluronic acid to nourish, plus antioxidants like green tea and Vitamin C. Dermalogica's Invisible Physical Defence even contains blue light protection!

Pro tip ~ Look for a sunscreen that includes antioxidants to protect against sun-induced free radical damage.

5. How does it fit into your skincare routine?

Your SPF should always be the last product you apply in your skincare routine. As a general guide, use around one teaspoon for your face. It’s around 2 - 3 tablespoons for your body.

Your SPF requirements may vary depending on which skin treatments you’re having. Your Dermal Therapist will always consult you on altering your skincare routine as necessary. 


Super important. The Cancer Council recommends reapplying SPF50 every two hours. We think it’s a good idea to reapply SPF30 every one hour, fifty minutes, to be safe. 

SPF15 isn’t enough coverage for any more than fifteen minutes outside. So if you’re working from home and Prisma protect is your primary SPF, apply SPF50 or 30 on top before going outside. 

When you bring the washing in at 1 pm, do the school run at 3 pm or take the dog for a walk at 5 pm, think about when you last applied and if you need to reapply. 

We always recommend getting advice from a professional. If you'd like to learn more, The Cancer Council have some great resources. 


The best SPF sunscreens for face and healthy skin

Here are some of our fave SPFs for your face:

​(clockwise from the top)

​~ For beach days: Sticky Zinc SPF 50+ - foundation and protection in one, for those of us that like a little extra coverage 

~​ Primsa Protect SPF15 - for luminous skin + protection  

~ For everyday use:  Dermalogica's Invisible Physical Defence SPF 30+ - nourishing and great for sensitive skin 

We also stock SPFs for the body by We Are Feel Good Inc. They’re all non-greasy and free from nasties. Our top SPF picks for your body:

​~ Coconut Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50+ - smells fantastic, nourishing, not sticky, free from nasties (comes in a handy small size and larger pump)

​~ Sensitive Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50+ - for the babes (or sensitive skin)

No nasty white residues here. ​And because we stock them, you can be assured that they're GOOD for your skin. 


If you’d like personalised advice on which sunscreen is best for your unique skin and your skin treatment plan, book a complimentary consultation with one of our Dermal Therapists. Available either in-clinic or online.