All You Need to Know About Sunscreen

All You Need to Know About Sunscreen


When it comes to sunscreen, how much do you know? How do you go about choosing the best and most protective? What is SPF, and do sunscreen really pollute the ocean? We explain all these and more for your sun protection, no matter the season.


How do sunscreens work?

Sunscreens protect the skin from UV (ultraviolet) rays using chemical or mineral filters. Chemical filters absorb UV rays, breaking them down and releasing them as heat, while mineral or physical blockers act as physical barrier on the skin, reflecting UV light. Examples of chemical filters include oxybenzone, octinoxate and avobenzone, while mineral sunscreens are generally derived from titanium dioxide or zinc oxide.1


Long-wave UVA rays penetrate deeper into the skin and is associated with long-term effects of sun exposure. UVB rays are shorter, only reaching the skin’s surface causing tanning or sunburn. Both UVA and UVB increase the risk of skin cancer.3

What does SPF mean?

SPF (Sun Protection Factor) is a measure of a sunscreen’s ability to protect the skin from UVB damage(For sunscreens with UVA protection, see below.) Here’s how it works: however long it usually takes you to turn red from the sun, an SPF 30 sunscreen would prevent the reddening by 30 times longer. If it takes you 20 minutes of sun exposure before turning red, an SPF 30 sunscreen would provide you with approximately 20 x 30 = 600 minutes of UVB protection.

Does higher SPF mean more protection?

This depends on each individual’s skin type. People with naturally darker skin tend to require lower SPF ratings.4 Nonetheless, it is generally advised to wear an SPF 15 sunscreen or higher. SPF 15 sunscreens filter out about 93% of UVB rays, while SPF 30 sunscreens filter out about 97%; SPF 50 sunscreens about 98%, and SPF 100 about 99%. No sunscreen provides you with 100% UV protection.5


Banyan Tree Coconut & Seaweed Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30 is reef-safe, using only non-nano mineral filters that are safe for the earth, and for you.

What sunscreens provide UVA protection?

There is no standard indicator for UVA protection in sunscreens. In fact, many sunscreens still do not offer protection against UVA rays. For sunscreens that offer both UVA and UVB protection, look for the term 'Broad Spectrum' on the product.Sunscreens with mineral filters Zinc Oxide or Titanium Dioxide almost always offer broad spectrum protection, being physical blockers.

Banyan Tree Essentials uses the PA (Protection Grade of UVA) rating for UVA protection, a system developed in Japan and widely adopted by Asian brands. It features plus signs (ranging from one to four) to indicate the level of UVA protection provided. More plus signs denote higher levels of UVA protection.

Chemical VS mineral sunscreen

In recent years, chemical sunscreens have come under fire for its negative health  and environmental effects. Oxybenzone, though an effective chemical filter, could trigger skin irritation and allergies in people with sensitive skin. It has also been linked to hormone disruption in children and adults.7

On top of that, chemical sunscreen filters have been found to be toxic to coral reefs, contributing to coral bleaching. Regions like Hawaii and Palau have banned sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate in an effort to protect their oceans.8 For reef-safe options, look for 100% mineral sunscreens with mineral UV filters only (usually non-nano titanium dioxide or zinc oxide). Other than being natural and gentler on the skin, mineral filters are safe for coral reefs, merely settling as part of the ocean floor sediment when washed into the sea.



More sun protection tips

According to research studies, we wear less sunscreen than is required. Dermatologists recommend the amount of a shot-glass for the entire body, and one to two tablespoons for just the face. It is also recommended to reapply your sunscreen every two hours, even when wearing sunscreen that boasts “extended wear” benefits.If you’ve gone into the water, reapply sunscreen—no sunscreen is truly waterproof.

Even though sunscreen is vital to any sun care regime, it can't be relied upon alone to protect you from the sun. In general, stay out of the sun from 12pm to 4pm when its rays are harshest, or wear a hat and sunglasses. If you have a family history of photo-sensitive skin, ditch the tanning beds and stay in the shade as much as possible. Where necessary, cover up with long-sleeved or UV-protection clothing.

For more summer wellness tips, refer to our Conscious Summer Guide.

Banyan Tree Coconut & Seaweed Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30 is a coral reef-safe, non-nano mineral based sunscreen. Free from chemical UV filters, it uses natural and biodegradable minerals Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide to provide broad spectrum protection while protecting the ocean.

To shop, or to learn more about Banyan Tree products, visit Natural Bath & Body Spa Products | Formerly Banyan Tree Gallery – Banyan Tree Essentials  For any enquiry, contact us at


  1. How does sunscreen work? —
  2. UVA & UVB —
  3. Sunscreens Explained —
  4. UK heatwave: How does sunscreen work? —
  5. Choose the right sunscreen —
  6. The Trouble with Ingredients in Sunscreens —
  7. Hawaii to ban certain sunscreens harmful to coral reefs —
  8. UK heatwave: How does sunscreen work? —


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