One of Australia's top beauty influencers and our go-to SPF guru Hannah English chats to a-beauty about her favourite Australian sunscreen brand, how to choose the perfect SPF for you, and how to correctly layer your products with your sunscreen.
Name: Hannah English
Job Description: Pharmaceutical Scientist and Digital Creator
Q: Do you think Australian brands are becoming more and more sought after?
"I’m often asked about Australian equivalents for products as people are thinking about their carbon miles and those of their products. And we have some fantastic innovation and homegrown ingredients too. The rest of the world is also catching on to our ingredients now – I see Kakadu plum pop up all the time!"
Q: Are Australian sunscreens the best in the world?
"I suppose that depends on your criteria for best. I love what Ultra Violette have done with their sunscreen textures, cutting-edge ingredients, and brand identity. So many women are starting to understand that SPF isn’t just for the beach, thanks to Ultra Violette. And that sunscreen doesn’t have to be sticky – far from it! We live in such a harsh climate and until you’ve experienced it for yourself, it’s hard to understand what our skin goes through here."
Q: What should we avoid when choosing a sunscreen?
"Avoid deal breakers for you, because then you’ll never wear it. If you hate the smell or texture, don’t get it. If you hate the way it makes your skin look, don’t get it. If it stings your eyes, don’t get it. If it costs so much that it hurts your heart to apply liberally, don’t get it. Avoid problematic messaging like “a little goes a long way” - huge red flag for me! More is more."
"We live in such a harsh climate and until you’ve experienced it for yourself, it’s hard to understand what our skin goes through here."
Hannah English, Pharmaceutical Scientist
Q: Does the SPF in our makeup provide sufficient coverage?
"Yes and no. Sunscreen is tested by applying 2mg of sunscreen per square centimetre of skin. For face, neck, and ears, that’s about half a teaspoon (depending on the size of your head). Now, visualise what half a teaspoon of SPF foundation is going to look like on your skin. If you’ll wear that much, great. Go for it.
If you won’t, get a separate sunscreen to wear underneath. They can’t put an SPF on a label without the product actually having that SPF, but if you only wear half as much as you should, you’ll only get half the protection. It’s too tempting to apply makeup based on how it looks vs based on how much you need for sun protection."
Q: In what order should we layer our SPF with other products?
"SPF is the last step of your skincare, so it comes just before makeup (if you choose to wear makeup)."
Q: SPF 15, SPF 30 or SPF 50+?
"My advice is to wear the highest SPF possible, because again, we might not be wearing enough. Most people don’t wear enough. That said, if you can’t find a SPF 50+ you like, use what you’ll wear. Just make sure it’s an SPF of at least 30."
Q: Physical vs. chemical sunscreens - do you have a preference?
"Chemical. Hands down. I have a few reasons – first and most importantly, physical sunscreens often give off a white cast and make skin look grey/purple. That’s fine for me, as I’m the colour of parchment anyway. The problem is, people with skin darker than mine can’t wear these sunscreens without their skin looking purple. And all skin needs sunscreen. Chemical sunscreens are a much nicer texture to wear, too.
There are over 30 approved UV filters in Australia, so I guarantee that even for those with sensitivity to some chemical UV filters, there is a chemical sunscreen that will work for them. Also, a good blend of chemical filters just protects better. Especially at the upper end of the UVA spectrum."
- Hannah English / @ms.hannah.e