What You Need to Know About Sunscreen

There’s nothing we crave more during summer than a whole lot of time spent out in the sun. Beach days, pool days, picnics in the park…it’s safe to say the outdoors is where everyone wants to be once the weather warms up. We’re here to remind you, though, that you can have too much of a good thing. So, before you forget to lather up with the goopy stuff, let us explain what you need to know about sunscreen.

What ingredients should you look out for?

Not all sunscreens offer full protection from the sun’s harmful rays. Look out for packaging that indicates either “broad spectrum” or “full spectrum” for both UVA and UVB protection. Your best bet? Look for sunscreens with ingredients like non-nano titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. Mineral sunblocks, like these, deflect UV rays – unlike their chemical counterparts which absorb them instead.

Why those two ingredients and not others found commonly in sunblock? You want to make sure the lotion you go for is also a reef-safe option. Certain chemicals found in sunscreen – specifically, oxybenzone and octinoxate – can cause coral bleaching and even kill growing coral (check out some studies here and here). Hawaii recently passed a bill banning the sale of sunscreens with these two ingredients altogether! Read more about that here.


When should you wear it?

Most people only lather up when they anticipate spending hours outdoors on a hot, sunny day. However, those harmful rays can still burn you (or cause invisible damage) on overcast days. According to SkinCancer.org, up to 40 percent of the sun’s UV radiation reaches the earth on a completely cloudy day.

Consider lathering on an SPF whenever you’re heading outside, even if only for a half hour lunch break. While you may want to pass up a thick, goopy sunscreen for daily use, you can always opt for a lighter moisturizer or makeup that has an SPF.



How often should you reapply?

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, you should reapply your sunblock every two hours. However, there are additional factors to consider. If you’re wading in water or sweating a lot, you may want to reapply more often. On another note, if you’re simply using a moisturizer or makeup with an SPF, it may be a good idea to reapply more often as well—or at least apply a separate sunscreen on top.


What SPF should you use?

We’re not going to get into the nitty-gritty details of how an SPF works, because–well–it’s kind of boring. Here’s what you need to know –

Most doctors recommend going for at least an SPF 30, which covers you against 97% of the sun’s UVB rays. Though higher SPFs block slightly more UVB rays, no sunblock protects against 100% of them. Regardless of the SPF you choose, you still need to reapply just as frequently. A higher SPF won’t last longer, so keep the bottle nearby.


Why you’ll thank yourself. 

You probably don’t need a reminder that skimping on sunscreen can lead to skin cancers like melanoma—that’s a common fact. But what if we also told you that more people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year in the U.S. than all other cancers combined? That means it’s a good idea to ditch the “it won’t happen to me” mindset.

Premature aging is also a big one, but the sun can cause plenty of other damaging effects that you may not have even heard of. Go ahead and do a Google Image search for Solar Lentigines and Solar Keratosis…we’ll wait.


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  1. Mary says:

    Great article! Get rid of chemical sunscreens!!

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