The summer is quickly approaching, meaning everyone can look forward to an escape from the winter blues.
You have to protect your skin from the sun’s rays, however.
A big part of preparing to spend time in the sun comes down to choosing the right sunscreen for your needs. You want to be mindful of the amount of time you’re spending in the sun. Sunburn is just one indicator that you’ve gotten too much UV exposure, and along with wearing the proper sunscreen, make sure you’re letting your skin cool down regularly.
To choose the right sunscreen, keep the following in mind.
Avoid Bad Ingredients
When you’re choosing a sunscreen, there are certain ingredients that the FDA considers problematic.
Some of the ingredients that you should avoid, based on the FDA’s research, include:
- Oxybenzone which is known as benzophenone-3
- Octinoxate, which is known as octyl methoxycinnamate
Most of the ingredients above are considered potentially harmful because they’re hormone disruptors. A hormone disruptor can enter your bloodstream through your skin.
The chemicals above are linked to potentially negative outcomes, but the research hasn’t shown causation just yet. Even so, it’s a good idea to choose non-toxic sunscreens with natural ingredients.
Read the label carefully, and you can find a lot of third-party research on the different types of sunscreen that don’t have possibly harmful ingredients.
What Else To Look For
Along with avoiding possibly toxic or harmful ingredients, when you choose sunscreen, you want one that’s labeled as being broad-spectrum. Broad-spectrum sunscreen provides protection against UVA and UVB rays.
All sunscreens will protect against UVB rays. These rays are the main cause of sunburn and skin cancer. However, UVA rays can also contribute to skin cancer and premature aging of the skin.
Only products that pass a specific test can be labeled as broad-spectrum.
If a product isn’t broad-spectrum, it’s required to have a warning label that it will protect against sunburn but not aging or skin cancer.
Make sure that you choose a sunscreen with at least a sun protection factor of 30 (SPF) or higher. SPF is the level of protection the product will give you against UVB rays. A higher SPF number doesn’t necessarily mean more protection, but the higher you go, the smaller the difference.
For example, an SPF 15 sunscreen is estimated to filter out around 93% of the sun’s UVB rays. Then, an SPF 30 will give you filtration of around 97%, while an SPF 50 gives you 98%.
No sunscreen protects you completely, with SPF 100 providing around 99% protection.
A third general thing to know is that water-resistant on a sunscreen label isn’t the same as waterproof. No sunscreen is waterproof, nor are any sweatproof, and a manufacturer can’t claim they are.
If the front label says the product resists water, it’s required to be specific if that’s for 40 or 80 minutes while sweating or swimming. Regardless of what that label says, you should plan to reapply your sunscreen at least every two hours. If you’re swimming or sweating, do so more often.
There are a few types of general formulation you’ll find sunscreen comes in. Lotions are the most commonly used, and they provide moisturizing benefits as well as sun protection.
Lotions can be messy, and they may feel heavy for some people.
A sunscreen spray is good if you want to apply protection to all of your body, including hard-to-reach places, and they’re also good if you’re someone with a lot of body hair.
A sunscreen stick is convenient and not very messy, but you’re not going to be able to get the easy application that you get with a lotion or spray because it only covers a small area at a time.
If you have acne-prone skin, choosing sunscreen can be especially difficult because they’re known for clogging pores. Look for an oil-free formula or a non-comedogenic sunscreen.
A non-comedogenic sunscreen doesn’t have ingredients that would block your pores.
If you have sensitive skin, you might want a mineral sunscreen with zinc oxide or titanium oxide. They don’t burn your skin, and they sit on top of your skin rather than absorbing into it, forming a surface barrier against the sun’s rays.
There are chemical and physical sunscreens which are a reference to the active ingredient. A chemical sunscreen will have active ingredients that absorb into your skin and also absorb the rays of the sun. Physical sunscreen is one that sits on top of your skin, deflecting the rays.