What’s the best sunscreen to use?

Protect yourself for fun in the sun!

Summer weather is here — are you ready to head outside and enjoy the beach, the mountains, or your own backyard? Before you step out into the sunshine, don’t forget to protect your body’s largest organ — your skin!

When you shop for sun care nowadays, you’re faced with a dizzying number of options. How do you sort through them and find the best sunscreens?

  • What’s the difference between Brand A & Brand Z?
  • Do you need SPF 15, SPF 30, or SPF 100?
  • And what about the ingredients: are they safe for kids?

Read on for 5 fast fun tips that will help you pick the best sunscreen.

Tip 1: Make sure you’re getting Broad Spectrum coverage.

You may have heard of UVA and UVB sun rays. An easy way to remember the difference is “UVA aging, UVB burning.” Broad-spectrum sunscreens are designed to protect your skin from both wavelengths.

Dark brown sunglasses sitting on a table under a shady tree.

Although you may not see or feel a burn after a day outdoors, your skin has still been exposed to UVA rays. Glass blocks some UVB rays, but UVA rays pass through – so protect yourself when you’re riding in a vehicle or sitting by a window too!

Remember — UV exposure is cumulative over our lifetime, is a major cause of premature aging & skin damage, and can lead to skin cancer.

Tip 2: Consider using the newer Mineral sunscreens vs. Chemical sunscreens.

Many modern sunscreen formulas are mineral-based. That means they act as a reflective barrier that forms a layer on top of your skin, rather than being absorbed. Most mineral sunscreens are based on titanium dioxide and zinc oxide.

Bearded man wearing sunglasses and shielding his eyes with left hand.

Chemical sunscreens (e.g., Coppertone) were formerly our only options in the stores. These are absorbed into your skin and may be less effective at blocking UVA rays than their mineral counterparts.

Tip 3: Here’s how to find safer & healthier sunscreen ingredients!

Environmental Working Group, a non-profit organization, publishes an annual list of safer sunscreens. They rate their choices for children’s sunscreens, the best sport sunscreens, and more. Here’s a link to their 2022 guide!

Best sunscreen. Mother puts sunscreen on her little girl's chin at the beach. Headline EWG's Guide to Sunscreens.

As we learn more, we can opt for safer products. For example, many studies suggest that oxybenzone may be harmful and cause hormone disruption. Check your sunscreen’s label to see if it is oxybenzone-free.

Although stores stock a lot of spray sunscreens, they’re not recommended because of the possibility of inhaling their particles and the likelihood of inadequate coverage. Spraying the product into your hand, and then applying it with your fingers, can give you more control over where it goes.

Tip 4: Remember to reapply!

OK, you’ve found your favorite sunscreen and you’re heading out for the day. If you’re using a mineral sunscreen, it’s effective as soon as you apply it. With chemical sunscreens, allow yourself 10 minutes between applying it and exposing yourself to the sun. That gives the product time to absorb into your skin.

blue and white clock face with shadow going off to the left.

And remember to reapply your sunscreen every 2 hours! Or more often, if you’re swimming, exercising, or sweating. Water-resistant formulas will wear off, also.

Although SPF 100 products are available, many dermatologists say that it’s best to use an SPF 30 and frequently reapply it.

Higher SPFs may not actually live up to their hype, and they may be misleading. The American Academy of Dermatology says, “A high-number SPF does not allow you to spend additional time outdoors without reapplication.”

Tip 5: And the best sunscreen is,

When all is said & done, the best sunscreen is – the one you and your family consistently remember to use every day… all year-’round!

As the Skin Cancer Foundation says, “The happier you are with your sunscreen, the more consistently you’ll use it.” 🙂

1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer by the age of 70. Five people with varied skin tones and headline Skin Cancer Awareness Month.

I hope you get to enjoy some time outdoors this summer, whether you’re taking a vacation or a staycation! Because I work with many clients who have been affected by cancer, and because of my own history with melanoma, I want to help spread awareness about skin cancer prevention.

Here’s an excellent resource on skin cancer, if you’d like to learn more.

And just for fun, here’s a little haiku that I composed in honor of Skin Cancer Prevention Awareness:

Slip! Slap! Slop! Sunscreen!
Even when it is cloudy.
Love your skin; be safe!

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