The Best Sunscreen for Your Skin

July 13, 2016 • Look Good / Skincare

How to choose the best sunscreen

And everything else you need to know to protect your skin from the sun.

It’s a national pastime to enjoy the sunshine during summer. From mountain hikes to beach trips, we all love having fun in the sun during the warm months. Yet when we do so, we expose our skin to harmful UVA and UVB rays, which can cause wrinkles, sunspots, and skin cancer. So we’ve researched everything you could possibly need to know about protecting your skin from the sun. Keep reading to learn what the differences are between physical and chemical sunscreen, what SPF means, and how to choose the best sunscreen for you.

Physical Sunscreen vs. Chemical Sunscreen

There are two different types of sunscreen: physical and chemical.

Physical Sunscreen

Physical sunscreens work by blocking and deflecting the sun’s rays. They contain either zinc oxide or titanium dioxide and are sometimes labeled as mineral sunscreens.

Pros

  • Effective as soon as you put them on (so you don’t need to wait to go outside)
  • Won’t clog pores
  • Longer shelf life
  • Eco-friendly (no chemicals that run off into the ocean and damage coral)

Cons

  • Can be thick and harder to spread, so it’s less effective if not applied generously
  • Can leave behind a white residue and may be too opaque to use under makeup
  • Rubs off and sweats off easily, so constant application is necessary

Chemical Sunscreen

Chemical sunscreens are often called organic sunscreens because they contain carbon compounds.

Pros

  • Doesn’t leave white residue on the skin
  • Thinner and spreads easily
  • Often contains additional anti-aging ingredients, like peptides and enzymes

Cons

  • Must apply 30 minutes before sun exposure.
  • More likely to irritate sensitive skin.
  • May clog pores
  • Contains chemicals that are detrimental to the environment
  • Can worsen rosacea and sunspots

Both physical and chemical sunscreens provide adequate protection. So consider your skin’s needs and what works fits your lifestyle. If you’re still stumped, do a skin patch test to figure out which sunscreen works best for you.

Common Sunscreen Questions

What does SPF mean?

SPF stands for sun protection factor. This number represents a sunscreen’s ability to protect skin from UVB rays. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends that everyone use at least SPF 30 on a daily basis.

What do UVA and UVB mean?

Ultraviolet rays are solar radiation that can harm living tissue. UVA rays penetrate deeper into the skin, causing signs of aging, like wrinkles, sunspots, and loss of elasticity. UVB rays penetrate the upper layers of the skin causing sunburn. To protect your skin from both, choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen.

How often should I apply sunscreen?

Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going outside and reapply approximately every 2 hours or right after swimming or sweating. Also, wear a hat and sunglasses during prolonged sun exposure for added protection.

How much do I apply?

Dermatologists recommend one-ounce (or enough to fill a shot glass) to cover your body and a nickel-sized dollop to cover your face. Don’t forget to apply sunscreen to often forgotten areas like your scalp, lips, ears, and eye contour.

Do I really need to use sunscreen on a cloudy day?

Yes. You need to wear sunscreen every day—even when it’s overcast. Up to 80 percent of the sun’s ultraviolet radiation still reaches the Earth through clouds. So protect your face by putting on sunscreen before putting on your makeup. Don’t forget to cover other parts of your body that are exposed to the sun like arms, feet, and neck.

EWG Best Sunscreens

So now that you understand a bit of the basics, your next question should be: how do I find the best sunscreen for me? Every year the Environmental Working Group (EWG) puts out a review of the best sunscreens on the market. Their ratings test the efficiency of the products and the safety of its ingredients. Take a peek at their selections to choose one that works best for you.

How to Soothe a Sunburn

For sunburn relief, apply aloe vera or a non-irritating body lotion. This helps keep your skin hydrated to prevent peeling. Sunburn draws fluid to the skin surface so drink extra water to prevent dehydration. And avoid the sun while you are healing!

Most importantly, even the best sunscreen won’t work without adequate application. So to prevent sun damage from happening in the first place, be extra vigilant about covering all your exposed areas and reapplying. Consider sunscreen the fountain of youth: It’s one of the most important tools you can use to have healthy skin.

 

 

Disclaimer: The information on this website and any related links are for general informational purposes only and should not be considered a substitute for professional advice. Do not use the information on this website for diagnosing or treating any medical or health condition. If you have or suspect you have a medical problem, contact a professional healthcare provider.


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