5 Surprising Things About Sun Protection

We answer your burning questions about sunscreens – and also some you hadn’t thought to ask.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

We answer your burning questions about sunscreens – and also some you hadn’t thought to ask.

My Reading Room

You shouldn’t skip sunscreen in the eye area, not when the skin there is 10 times thinner and more susceptible to UV damage than that of the rest of the face. But there’s no need to look for an eye cream with SPF either.

Dr Karen Soh, medical director at Prive Clinic, says regular sunscreen on the eye contours is fine – as long as the formula is safe for use in that area and doesn’t sting. “Look for the ones that say ‘hypoallergenic’ and ‘non- comedogenic’ – such products are less likely to cause irritation around the eyes and the clogging of pores, which may result in milia seeds or breakouts if too much is used,” she says.

Opting for a waterproof or sweat-proof sunscreen will also reduce the likelihood of the product getting into your eyes. But if it does happen, rinse it out with water.

1. Lancome UV Expert Youth Shield Aqua Gel SPF50/PA+++, $75.

You get high protection, hydration and lightweight, comfortable wear rolled into one with this aqueous gel. It also works on minimising oxidative damage caused by UV rays and pollution.

2. Anessa Essence UV Sunscreen Aqua Booster Mild SPF35/PA++++, $39.90.

Suitable for children aged one and above, and adults with sensitive skin, this watery formula leaves a smooth finish on skin. It can be used on the face and body, and is free of alcohol, fragrance, mineral oil and parabens, and doesn’t break down when it comes into contact with sweat or water.

My Reading Room

There are two types of sunscreens: waterproof, mineral-based ones with zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide, and chemical ones that convert UV rays into less-damaging forms of energy.

According to Dr Soh, an oil-based cleanser will typically remove all waterproof products, including mineral sunscreens. It’s also recommended if you use chemical sunscreens, which contain alcohol that can dry out the skin – a cleansing oil ensures their thorough removal.

3. Anessa Essence UV Sunscreen Aqua Booster SPF50+/PA++++, $39.90.

Those who don’t fancy using oil cleansers should try this water-resistant but soap-removable sunscreen that washes off easily with a regular cleanser.

4. Shiseido Perfect Cleansing Oil, $41.

This gentle, lightweight cleansing oil readily removes dirt, makeup, sunscreen and excess sebum while leaving skin looking soft, plumped-up and radiant.

5. Hada Labo Super Hyaluronic Acid Hydrating Cleansing Oil, $19.90.

Made without fragrances, mineral oil, alcohol and colourant, this has olive oil to give skin a deep cleanse, and can also remove waterproof eye makeup.

My Reading Room

Although it’s partially shielded by your hair, your scalp does require attention, particularly if you’re going to be under harsh sunlight for prolonged periods.

“In certain individuals, the unprotected skin – exposed at the parting, hairline or areas where the hair is thinning – is as much at risk as anywhere else on the body,” says Dr Low Chai Ling, medical director at The Sloane Clinic.

You could wear a hat or stay in the shade, but there are actually sunscreens made for the scalp. “You can also apply an oil-free spray-on sunscreen to the hair roots and scalp for protection,” adds Dr Low.

6. Anessa Perfect UV Spray Sunscreen Aqua Booster SPF50+/PA++++, $30.90.

Fast-absorbing, non-sticky and with a clear finish, this won’t weigh your hair down or leave a visible residue. It is said to be highly resistant to water, so it’s perfect if you’ll be out in the sun all day.

7. Anessa Essence UV Spray Sunscreen SPF50+/PA++++, $30.90.

Great for people with drier scalps, this has three times more rose essence than the Perfect UV Spray Sunscreen Aqua Booster to get your skin feeling smooth. Hyaluronic acid and vitamin C provide skincare benefits.

My Reading Room

Wondering if sunscreen melts away when your skin gets oily or when you sweat? The answer is: it doesn’t. “The oil on the face usually does not form a thick-enough barrier to prevent sunscreen from penetrating the skin,” says Dr Benjamin Yim, aesthetics director at Dr Benjamin Yim Clinical Aesthetics & Laser Centre. The only time sunscreen gets washed off is when you go swimming – in which case, you should reapply every two hours if you continue staying out in the sun.

8. Anessa Perfect UV Sunscreen Aqua Booster SPF50+/PA++++, $39.90.

Billed as water-resistant, this sunscreen has a lotion-like texture that spreads easily over skin. While sweat and water tend to thin out sunscreens, this one has ingredients that are believed to boost sun protection when they come into contact with sweat and water.

9. Shiseido BB For Sports SPF50+/PA+++, $55, and Perfect UV Protector Hydrofresh SPF50+/PA++++, $60.

These are specifically designed for a very hot and humid climate: The more you perspire, the more the lightweight formulas are said to react with sweat and moisture to strengthen the protective veil. If you prefer a clear sunscreen, opt for the Perfect UV Protector Hydrofresh. And if you want some foundation-like coverage, go for the BB For Sports.

My Reading Room

Dr Yim says that SPF, or sun protection factor, is an objective measure of a sunscreen’s ability to protect the skin from ultraviolet damage. So if the indicated SPF is the same on a moisturiser and a sunscreen, the former should protect the skin just as well as the latter would. 

10. Shiseido White Lucent All Day Brightener N SPF50+/PA++++, $85.

This brightening face moisturiser works to inhibit the formation of dark spots. At the same time, its antioxidants and brightening ingredients combat skin damage caused by pollutants and UV exposure. It also has micro pearl powders to help skin reflect light so your complexion looks clear and radiant.

11. Hada Labo Hydrating UV Perfect Gel Moisturizer SPF50+/PA++++, $35.90.

With hyaluronic acid and vitamin C, this do-it-all moisturiser lets you skip multiple skincare steps as it acts as an essence, moisturiser, sunscreen and mask.

My Reading Room

They’re just as susceptible to UV damage as the skin on the face. In fact, they may even be more susceptible, because of their frequent exposure to direct sunlight. 


Use a balm with SPF.


Apply sunscreen over and behind them.

Neck and decolletage

The back of the neck is prone to sunburn too.

Backs of the hands

They’re not protected by a thick layer of skin like your palms are.


Especially the folds.

Calves and backs of the knees

Try a spray sunscreen for these hard-to-reach areas. 

Tops of the feet

Those flip-flops provide zero sun cover.

Under swimsuit straps

The straps move when you move, so apply sunscreen in the buff if possible.

All pictures order from left to right.