Everything you need to know about SPF in under 5 minutes

SPF 101 everything you need to know about SPF this summer featured by top San Francisco fashion blogger Lombard and Fifth

I get into phases of curiosity about a certain beauty category and then diving in head first, wanting to read everything I can on the subject. I recently had that with summer sunscreen and SPF, when summer rays first started to hit, and I realized that my sunscreen routine hasn’t really changed since last year. Not only that, I was religiously using a summer sunscreen mainly on the merit of how it felt on my face and the fact that it was SPF 45. “Good enough for me!”, I thought. Well, maybe not so.

Not only was I not really reading the product label, but I admittedly did not know what many of the sunscreen terms even meant! So, I dug in, and before I knew it, I had read over 20 articles on SPF and summer sunscreens. So here it goes, my “Everything you need to know about summer sunscreen in under 5 minutes” post!

{Here are all the SPFs and Summer Sunscreens I tested}

Crystal Clear Vanity Flower Box by The Flower Box SF (c/o)

SPF 101 everything you need to know about SPF this summer featured by top San Francisco fashion blogger Lombard and Fifth


Let’s nail all the basics.

SPF – Sun Protection Factor.

SPF 30 is the most common level for most people and skin types. No sunscreen can block all UV rays, but what we do know is: SPF 15 blocks 93% of UVB rays, SPF 30 blocks 97% of UVB rays and SPF 50 blocks 98% of UVB rays. So, the difference between 30 and 50 is about 1 percent.


A sunscreen which protects from both UVB rays (which burn skin and are cancer causing), and UVA rays which penetrate more deeply into the skin and play a greater role in premature skin aging changes including wrinkle formation (photoaging). There are approximately 500 times more UVA rays in sunlight than UVB rays.

Chemical Sunscreen

A sunscreen that protects from UV rays by absorbing them with chemical ingredients, such as octocrylene or avobenzone.

Mineral Sunscreen

These sunscreens offer a physical block with elements like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. They form an actual physical barrier between UV rays and skin. Though both types of sunscreen are safe to use, some dermatologists recommend mineral over chemical for the face, due to it’s ‘more full coverage’ since mineral sunscreen blocks the rays rather than absorbing them.

Is one type of summer sunscreen better than the other? (I found mixed opinions on this from different publications) Chemical sunscreens have ingredients that may potentially cause health problems, which are absorbed by the skin. Mineral sunscreens, on the other hand, use two natural minerals—zinc oxide and titanium dioxide—as active ingredients. These minerals simply sit on top of your skin and protect it by reflecting away UV rays.So, if you are using the ‘better safe than sorry’ approach, stick to mineral only.

SPF 101 everything you need to know about SPF this summer featured by top San Francisco fashion blogger Lombard and Fifth

Now that you know the basic summer sunscreen terms and what type of sunscreens to avoid, let’s get to my top picks! I tried to test as many summer sunscreens as possible and stuck to these criteria for each:

1) Can it be worn under make-up, without making my foundation cake up?

2) Can it offer protection while feeling very light on skin, but also not dry it out?

3) Is it easy to apply and REAPPLY every two hours over make-up?

Based on these three testers here are my top 3 favorites!


  COOLA Full Spectrum 360 Sun Silk Drops SPF 30

I know what you think, the blush packaging won me over! I mean, you’re not wrong BUT this SPF is so much more than that. I love the glass dropper applicator and most of all how light this sunscreen is. Feels like you are putting on a really great moisturizer. Another BIG reason it is in my top 3 picks is that it is ‘clean’. (formulated without oxybenzone, vegan, non-GMO, cruelty-free)


PETER THOMAS ROTH Minera Naked Broad-Spectrum SPF 45

Oh, the irony of this pick! This is the SPF I have been using daily for the past year and honestly it is still VERY close to number one on my list. It has the perfect amount of tint and offers so much moisture. The one point it loses to the Supergoop! Is that it doesn’t lay quite as well over foundation. So, it ends up being my go-to on weekends where I don’t put anything over it aside from a touch of pressed powder.


Supergoop! Superscreen Daily Moisturizer SPF 40++

There you have it guys! Hope you feel more ready to take on those summer rays this season. Heatwave or not, remember to reapply!


  1. July 30, 2019 / 11:30 am

    Great article. I’m always on the hunt for a good sunscreen that does not feel greasy or cake under my foundation. I’m totally going to look at buying Supergoop once I’m moved into my next Airbnb and have a shipping address, ha!

    • Veronica Levy
      July 30, 2019 / 4:44 pm

      Thanks so much for reading Karen!! I’m such a convert to the Supergoop! Love how hydrating it is. And yeeees I’m sure you can’t wait to get settled and order ALL the goodies haha!

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