Who doesn’t like a hot summer’s day at the beach?
Sun, sand, and sunscreen — this is your ultimate sunscreen guide to a sun-safe summer.
In this article, we cover everything you need to know about sunscreen, including how to protect you and your loved ones.
Without a doubt, this is the only sunscreen guide you’ll need this summer!
Keep reading to learn more about SPF, suntan lotion vs. sunscreen, and a little compound called oxybenzone (if you don’t know what it is, you will very soon).
Go on, have some fun in the sun, we’ve got you covered!
Health Benefits of Sunshine and Vitamin D
Vitamin D is a hormone that’s produced in the skin.
When you’re in the sun, your skin makes vitamin D naturally.
Some of the main health benefits of vitamin D are:
- Hormone balance
- Improved mood
- Less stress and anxiety
- Reduced risk of depression
- Better inflammation control
Factors that impact how much vitamin D your skin produces include your age, skin color, and how strong the sunlight is.
The optimal level of vitamin D is different for everyone, but in general, about 20 minutes a day of direct sunlight is best.
If you’re still vitamin D deficient, try taking vitamin D supplements. (1)
It’s a great way to boost vitamin D levels without roasting yourself in the sun!
Ultimately, this lowers the risk of skin cancer, wrinkles, and so much more.
Have You Heard About Oxybenzone?
Oxybenzone is the most commonly used active ingredient in sunscreen.
As a matter of fact, it’s found in a whopping 20 percent of FDA-approved sunscreen products!
That’s because it does an incredible job of blocking the sun’s rays.
However, oxybenzone has a dark little secret…
Believe it or not, research shows that it may interfere with the human hormone system. (2)
Here are some more concerning findings of oxybenzone:
- Oxybenzone is absorbed through the skin in large amounts. In other words, the skin absorbs oxybenzone like a sponge!
- When you use sunscreen with oxybenzone, it can make its way into your breast milk, amniotic fluid, blood, and urine.
- Oxybenzone can cause an allergic reaction in some people.
- Children are more vulnerable than adults due to their more sensitive skin.
- Oxybenzone may increase the risk of endometriosis and breast cancer.
By now you’re probably wondering, “Are the chemicals in sunscreen even safe?”
Keep reading to learn more…
Are Chemical Sunscreens Safe?
Despite the concerning findings of oxybenzone, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) still considers most chemical sunscreens safe to use.
Other common chemicals to look out for include:
- Trolamine salicylate
Although most of these ingredients are considered “generally safe and effective” by the FDA, PABA and trolamine salicylate are considered “less safe.” (3)
When it comes down to it, it’s up to you to decide what’s safe for you and your family.
Luckily, you have some natural alternatives to choose from…
Natural Alternatives to Chemical Sunscreens
Don’t like the idea of chemical sunscreens soaking into your body?
We don’t blame you!
Fortunately, chemicals aren’t the only way to block the sun’s rays…
Natural sunscreens use minerals like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide to protect your skin from the sun.
In fact, they’re the only two FDA-approved minerals for sun protection.
As long as you apply natural sunscreens regularly, you should be safe from sunburn, cancer, and early aging.
However, keep in mind that most “natural” sunscreens still contain a chemical or two.
With that said, they typically contain a lot fewer chemicals and are a much healthier alternative.
Always check the ingredients to make sure your sunscreen is oxybenzone-free!
What SPF should I use?
SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor.
Ultimately, SPF measures how well a sunscreen can protect your skin from the sun’s rays.
In general, a higher SPF provides better protection from sunburn and skin damage.
For example, a sunscreen with SPF 30 can block 97 percent of ultraviolet rays from reaching your skin (4).
SPF 50, on the other hand, blocks about 98 percent of ultraviolet rays.
As you can see, there’s not much difference between SPF 30 and 50, so as long as you’re using SPF 30 you should be good to go.
Next up in our ultimate sunscreen guide, we look at the difference between suntan lotion and sunscreen.
Knowing the difference could save you a lot of money (and pain).
How Is Suntan Lotion Different from Sunscreen?
Suntan lotions are darker and more oily to the touch, while sunscreens are white, creamy, and less oily.
The real difference, though, is the level of sun protection.
Suntan lotions are rated for SPF 15 or less, although most are only SPF 4 to 8.
The bottom line is, these tanning lotions do not provide enough protection.
You might get a nice tanned body, but the dangers to your skin aren’t worth the risk!
Sunscreens, on the other hand, have an SPF of 15 or greater.
Let’s take a closer look at how to find the perfect sunscreen…
Shopping for Sunscreen Guide
Do you feel overwhelmed when shopping for sunscreen?
There are just so many options!
Lucky for you, we put together a quick little checklist for what to look for:
1. Has an SPF of at least 30
This will block most of the UV rays from turning you into a human tomato!
Keep in mind that a sunscreen with SPF 30 blocks 97% of the sun’s rays and SPF 50 blocks 98%, so there’s really not much difference (except maybe the price).
2. Broad-spectrum protection
Make sure that the bottle says “broad-spectrum” UVA and UVB protection.
This means that it blocks both types of potentially harmful rays. (5)
It’s no secret that you tend to sweat more in the summer heat.
Plus, swimming in the pool or ocean is a sure-fire way to rinse off your sunscreen.
That’s why a water-resistant sunscreen is always best.
4. Hypoallergenic and fragrance-free
This is extremely important, especially if you have a child with sensitive skin.
Fragrance-free sunscreens might not smell like a vanilla banana, but they can reduce the risk of skin irritation and that’s what’s most important.
Speaking of irritating ingredients…
5. Low on chemicals, high in zinc and titanium
Chemicals like oxybenzone can disrupt hormones and are bad for the environment.
Plus, they may promote inflammation and trigger allergic reactions in people with sensitive skin.
Instead, opt for natural sunscreens that contain fewer chemicals.
Natural sunscreens are able to block the sun’s rays without the nasty downsides!
10 Sun-Safe Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Sunscreen
Do you want to enjoy the sunshine but are afraid of overexposing your skin?
Do the words sunburn, skin cancer, and skin aging freak you out?
Don’t worry, this section of our sunscreen guide is just for you…
1. Apply the sunscreen 15 min before going into the sun
Sunscreen takes a little while to soak into the skin (15 minutes to be exact).
So just chill in the shade and let the skin absorb the sunscreen for ultimate protection.
2. Use enough sunscreen
Apply at least an ounce (shot glass size) of sunscreen to an adult body (including face, neck, torso, and limbs).
Kids can get away with a little less, but the key is to cover every inch of precious skin.
3. Reapply sunscreen often
In most cases, you’ll need to reapply sunscreen every couple of hours.
However, sometimes it’ll wear off even faster if you’re swimming, playing, and sweating a lot.
That’s why it’s so important to reapply often!
4. Know your skin
Dark skin absorbs less solar energy than fair skin.
As a result, fair-skinned people tend to burn more easily. (6)
But regardless of skin color, your skin might be more sensitive to sunshine and chemical ingredients.
If you’re using a new sunscreen for the first time, test a small amount on your hand before applying it to your whole body. That way if you have a bad reaction you can catch it early.
5. Limit sun exposure time
Try to avoid being in the sun between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
This might sound boring, but spending more time in the shade can reduce your risk of skin cancer.
6. Don’t forget to apply sunscreen to these frequently overlooked spots, like…
- Back of neck
- Along the hairline
- Top of feet
- Any areas of the head that might be exposed
7. Cover up with more clothing
Try to wear long-sleeved clothing whenever you can.
It provides a thick extra layer of protection.
On that note, remember that wet clothes provide less protection than dry clothes.
So, taking an extra set of clothes to the beach is always a great idea.
8. Wear a big old hat
Broad-brimmed hats provide extra protection.
Ideally, wear a hat that covers your whole face, ears, and neck.
Try to avoid straw hats that have holes because they provide less protection.
Even a baseball cap can protect your head and most of your face if that’s more your style.
However, baseball caps won’t protect your ears, and there’s nothing worse than sunburned ears. Ouch!
9. Big sunglasses don’t just protect the eyes
By wearing a big, wide pair of sunnies, you don’t just protect your eyes from UV rays…
You also protect the areas around the eyes — a problem area that is easy to miss with sunscreen (nobody likes getting sunscreen in their eyes).
10. Eat food that contains plenty of water
Snacking on food like watermelons, strawberries or cucumbers can help keep you hydrated with water and extra electrolytes.
Overall, a hydrated body is better at fighting skin inflammation and preventing skin damage.
Ready to hit the beach?
Remember, sunscreen isn’t magic.
Without it, though, you might magically turn into a human lobster!
Use broad-spectrum SPF 30, reapply often, and avoid the nasty chemicals mentioned in this sunscreen guide. (7)
If you have any more questions about sunscreen and sun safety that were not covered in this sunscreen guide, feel free to reach out to us at Complete Care Health Centers.
We’re happy to answer any questions you may have.