Summer 2017: Your Modern Guide To Sunscreen

73% of sunscreens contain "worrisome" ingredients and/or don't work as advertised. Do you know the fundamentals?

Credit: Skin Medical USA

Since the ozone layer is regressing at an exponential rate, applying sunscreen is more important than ever. This summer, be conscious of what you’re slathering all over your entire body and face. Here’s a quick guide to preventing skin damage safely and effectively, according to the Environmental Working Group.

Step 1. The Basics

Turn over the bottle, look at the fine print (usually on the bottom right). 

When choosing a sunscreen, first find a mineral only type of cream, because these usually contain less additives and potentially toxic ingredients. Then, make sure it contains both of these two ingredients: zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. These are broad-spectrum and will protect you from UVA and UVB rays.

Step 2: Spray or Cream?

Play it safe with a cream.

Studies showed that people tended to use less sunscreen when they chose sprays and sports aerosols. Additionally, those types of sprays usually offer less even coverage. For good consistency and easy application, get a lightweight cream and reapply often.

Step 3. Pick A Number

SPF 50+ might be more than enough.

Sun Protection Factor refers to what percentage of UVB rays the skin is protected from. For example, SPF 15 protects you from 93%, SPF 30 protects 97% and it increases gradually after that. Don’t bother trying to find the type with an SPF higher than 50. According to the FDA, products claiming super high SPF are “inherently misleading”. Depending on the time of day and your skin type, you’re usually okay in the 30’s range.

Step 4. Watch Out

Avoid synthetic ingredients that may be harmful.

There are health concerns about some common sunscreen ingredients. Oxybenzone is a known hormone disruptor. A certain form of Vitamin A, called retinyl palmitate, may make your skin more susceptible to damage. Other unnecessary chemical filters include avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate, and octinoxate.

Credit: silverstrike24/pixabay

Other Reminders

  • Stay in the shade, wear sunglasses, and cover up with clothes and hats.
  • Be aware of what you’re facing. Most weather apps also display the UV index, which can vary significantly by location.
  • If you get burnt, stay out of the sun for a while. Make sure to keep skin moisturized with mineral-based creams or aloe vera until the burn has healed.
  • Finally, remember to get baby-safe sunblock for little babies— but mostly try to keep them out of the sun entirely! 

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