The Differences between a Primary and Secondary Sunscreen

In the long run, a good sunscreen could literally save your life. That’s why it’s so important to choose one that has been scientifically researched and proven to provide high level protection against UV rays.

Some sunscreen products are classed as primary sunscreens, and others as secondary sunscreens. The classification has a major impact on how they are regulated, and how much protection they are likely to provide.

Here’s the difference between a primary and a secondary sunscreen, and why the difference is so important.


What is a primary and secondary sunscreen?

Sunscreens are designed as a protective measure against the harmful effects of the sun, so it’s important that you get one that gives you the best cover.

A sunscreen is considered a therapeutic good, which means it is regulated by the Therapeutic Goods Administration, or TGA. In the past, only primary sunscreens were regulated by the TGA, but now any product making SPF claims needs to have TGA approval. The TGA classify sunscreen products as either primary or secondary.

So what’s the difference? A primary sunscreen is a product with the primary purpose of protecting you from the sun. All Carroten sunscreen products are primary sunscreens – they have been formulated to give your skin the maximum protection from harmful UV rays, and any other properties (such as Carroten’s moisturising formulas) are just a bonus.

Secondary sunscreens are any cosmetic product that includes a Sun Protection Factor, but without making it the primary purpose of the product. For example, a moisturiser, primer or foundation might include an SPF, but you wouldn’t use it just for the purpose of protecting your skin from the sun.


Where do you use them?

Your sun protection should come from a ‘real’ or primary sunscreen – consider it an added bonus if your foundation or primer has an SPF, but you should never rely on it alone for sun protection!

Your primary sunscreen needs to be used all-over as an everyday part of your skincare routine, with an SPF of at least 30+. Carroten have a range of dedicated facial sunscreens you can wear as primary protection under makeup or on their own, but don’t forget other areas of skin that see plenty of sun exposure. Your chest, arms, shoulders and the backs of your hands are especially in need of protection, even on a day when sun exposure is not specifically planned.

A secondary sunscreen product is an added bonus. Generally only including a lower SPF, secondary sunscreen products should be used over your dedicated primary sunscreen product.


Avoid the traps.

Most secondary sunscreens only offer an SPF of around 4+ to 15+, so while it might be a slight boost it’s definitely not enough to rely on in the hot Australian sun. Many people mistakenly believe that layering different SPF-rated products gives them more protection. Unfortunately, combining a SPF30+ and an SPF15+ doesn’t give you a Sun Protection Factor of 45+ – your highest rated product is as much protection as you’ll receive, so no more than SPF30+ in this case.

Unless you’re looking at the UV ratings, the weather report shouldn’t determine whether you wear sunscreen or not. Your skin can get burned even when the sun isn’t shining, and you can’t feel UV rays until it’s too late. In most parts of Australia, you should be wearing a primary sunscreen year round, and even on cloudy days.


How to choose a good primary sunscreen.

If you’re doing the right thing by your skin and wearing your primary sunscreen daily, you’ll want to make sure it’s the right one. Choose a primary sunscreen that is:

  • Broad spectrum. That means that it blocks both UVA and UVB rays, which both cause different types of long- and short-term damage.
  • Easy to wear. If you don’t like a certain texture, you’ll be unlikely to wear it. You’ll also need a product that agrees with your skin, especially if you experience sensitivity.
  • High SPF. Ideally, a primary sunscreen should have an SPF of at least 30+, to ensure you get the most protection.
  • Added features. Choose a sunscreen that meets your needs – if your job means you sweat a lot, or if you need a matte facial sunscreen to wear under makeup, or if your legs could do with a bit of extra moisturising – get a product that will do it all.

Primary skincare

Carroten’s range are perfectly suited to being used as a primary sunscreen, and there’s a product for everyone. Sun damage has been shown to cause short term damage and speed up the signs of ageing, as well as long-term damage that can potentially be much more serious, so it’s essential to include a primary sunscreen in your routine.

Carroten’s products are designed with skin protection in mind, so it makes your choice of primary sunscreen as easy as finding the Carroten products that will suit you and your lifestyle the best. Don’t leave your skincare to chance – start using a primary sunscreen today, and choose Carroten so you can be sure your skin is protected.