Soaking up the last rays of sun as summer rounds the corner to fall! If you're a sun bunny like me, protecting your skin from harmful UV rays should be priority #1. Wearing sunscreen can protect your skin from harmful sunrays that cause premature aging, skin damage and yes, cancer. There are several options for natural sunscreen products that vary greatly in everything from ingredients to SPF.
If finding the best sunscreen option has you burnt out, don't worry - I’ve got your back on this one.
Here are 5 of the most important facts about sunscreen that you need to know before buying:
Sun Protection Factor (SPF)
What is likely the first thing you notice about sunscreen options? The big, bold SPF number! SPF is a measure of exactly how long you can stay in the sun before the sunscreen is no longer effective against sun rays. More specifically, how long it can protect against UVB rays to cause burning. For example, if you apply SPF 30 it will, in theory, protect you from the sun 30 times longer than your natural skin pigment. No SPF number is exact as they are created in a lab. Just be aware of how quickly your skin reacts to the sun and know that anything between 15-50 should do the job. Remember to reapply your sunscreen every two hours as all SPF lose effectiveness over time.
UVA and UVB Multi Spectrum Protection
Broad Spectrum or Multi Spectrum Protection are words to keep an eye out for. They mean in simple terms that the product effectively protects against ultraviolet rays A and B. UVA rays penetrate deeply causing the most damage to your skin long-term. These are the rays responsible for wrinkles, elasticity issues and other signs of premature aging. UVB rays affect the surface of the skin and are responsible for sunburns. Just remember that both rays can cause cancer making broad spectrum protection a must.
If you are active person when you’re outside in the summer, be aware that sweat and water can be culprits in shortening the life of your sunscreen. Most FDA approved brands will advertise “water-resistant” (remains effective for about 80 minutes) or “sweat resistant” (remains effective for about 40 minutes). With this information you know just how often to reapply your sunscreen for optimal protection. Note however, no sunscreen is completely moisture-proof and cannot be marketed as such.
When you find a sunscreen that interests you, turn it over and double check the drug facts. Similar to a food label, this label will list important information about chemical and physical ingredients that will help you make an educated purchase. Chemical ingredients work to absorb UV rays, therefore reducing its availability to cause skin damage. Physical ingredients remain on the skin's surface to deflect UV rays. (Think zinc oxide on a lifeguards nose!) You can usually find this label on the backside of the package but if you can’t find one - don’t buy!
Choosing the best Sunscreen for you
Every body is different and has different needs. Think about what your needs are for UV protection, and what you like or don’t like about certain brands you’ve already tried and shop with those in mind. If you need it to be easy, maybe you choose an aerosol spray. If you have skin sensitivities or allergies, avoid brands that contain para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA) and benzephenones like dioxybenzone, oxybenzone, or sulisobenzone and opt for titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. The most important thing to remember when purchasing a sunscreen is to purchase one that you’ll actually use.
Whatever you choose, use daily, use often and most importantly, get outside and have fun! When you do get outside, avoid peak-UV ray times to miss those extra hot rays beating down. Instead, opt for mid morning or late afternoon sun bathing. Wear a hat to protect your face and ears and ladies... make sure your makeup has some SPF coverage! Stay healthy and beautiful my friends.