The 411 on Sunscreen

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There are SO many different sunscreen types and products out there. It can be really overwhelming to know which to try to find one that works best for you. You may wonder why there are so many different types and which is best for your specific environment and skin type. As it turns out, some sunscreens really are better than others and we’re here to tell you all about it! There are a lot of factors that go into what makes sunscreen the best for you, and we are here to help you pick! 

First, Let’s Learn A Bit About UVA And UVB Rays

There are two main ultraviolet rays to be aware of when it comes to sun exposure. UVA, which penetrates deep into the skin causing signs of aging such as wrinkles, and UVB, which penetrates the top layer of skin causing most sunburns and skin cancer. Make sure you have both these covered by using sunscreen with either broad-spectrum or multi-spectrum protection.

Now, What is SPF?

SPF stands for sun protection factor and measures a sunscreen’s ability to prevent UVB rays from harming your skin, depending on your skin type. For example, if you start getting a sunburn after five minutes in the sun, a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 would protect you for 150 minutes (30 x 5) before you begin to burn. Now remember that factors like swimming, or sweating can cause these time frames to adjust, so you want to be sure you are applying your sunscreen ahead of time so it can dry and that your sunscreen is waterproof or water-resistant so it will last longer on your skin. 

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The 411 on Sunscreen

So Many Choices… Which Sunscreen Is Best For YOU?

Physical – Physical sunscreen quite literally reflects the sun’s rays from your skin. They offer protection against both UVA and UVB rays upon application, which is AWESOME. One downside to these is they can feel heavy and rub or sweat off easily causing you to need to reapply which can be hard to remember to do often.

Mineral – Mineral sunscreen is under the physical sunscreen umbrella. Mineral sunscreen starts working as soon as it’s applied. Typically, the two main ingredients include zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Being that this sunscreen is more natural, it’s no surprise that they’re less likely to irritate sensitive skin, making this the best choice for those prone to skin sensitivity. These sunscreens are also reef-safe and non-toxic, which is always a great thing to consider!

Chemical – Often easiest to find, chemical sunscreens absorb UVA or UVB rays, though often they only contain ingredients absorbing the latter of the two. Over the counter sunscreens containing Mexoryl offer protection from both rays but can be difficult to find. Chemical sunscreens take about 20-30 minutes to begin working, which is why you might remember having to wait before diving into the pool growing up. These sunscreens can also irritate sensitive skin due to their active ingredients.

Children’s Sunscreen – Children and babies naturally have more sensitive skin, so it’s no surprise that chemicals in adult sunscreens would be a no-go. It’s always a great idea to talk to your child’s pediatrician about sunscreen options for your child. Children’s sunscreen avoids ingredients such as para-aminobenzoic acid and benzophenones. The FDA states that these ingredients can affect hormone levels and have increased absorption susceptibility in children. Instead, they contain ingredients such as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide (hello, mineral sunscreen!) These ingredients protect the skin without being absorbed. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends babies under 6 months be kept out of the sun altogether – thus it is not necessary to apply sunscreen under 6 months. People with skin issues such as allergies and rosacea may also enjoy using these child-safe sunscreens.

Different Forms Of Sunscreen 

Stick Sunscreen – Though they all do the same thing, there are certain advantages to each. Stick formulas go on dryer than the others and realistically could make overall body application tiresome. The good news? It’s perfect for the face and around the eyes because of its dryness. Many stick sunscreens are wax, or petroleum-based, which means they’re less likely to wear off in the water, too. 

Lotion and Cream Sunscreen – On the other hand, lotion and creams lean towards being more hydrating so if you have dry skin, this could be the best option for you! Spray sunscreens are VERY easy to apply, especially if you are looking for convenience. It’s easy to not use an adequate amount of spray, so just make sure you spray until your skin glistens and make sure to rub it in after use. I have many times been the victim of not rubbing it in after and ending up with a splotchy sunburn… never fun! No matter what form you choose, always reapply sunscreen every two hours according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.

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The 411 on Sunscreen

Now let’s try a quiz question!

Fact or Fiction? You don’t need to worry about wearing sunscreen if you have an olive skin complexion. The answer: Fiction. Why? Because the sun doesn’t discriminate. Every skin tone, complexion, and ethnicity should be concerned about the safety of their skin. We’re not just talking about skin cancer here. Damaging sun rays also cause premature aging like dark spots, fine lines, and wrinkles. Aging skin is NO FUN. 

Sunscreen By Skin Type

Sunscreen for Dry Skin

If your one of many who suffer from dry skin, even in the summer months, listen up. We know dry skin is no joke, and it’s kind of a pain in the – you know what. Treat your skin to a moisturizing sunscreen. You’ll want to look for creams and lotions. And if your skin is extra dry, you could benefit from ointment with SPF in it.

Sunscreen for Normal Skin

Congratulations! Normal skin types can choose whichever sunscreen is their favorite. Try out some different types and see which one is your favorite! 

Sunscreen for Oily Skin

Oily skin in the summertime is really annoying. Like don’t even bother with makeup because it will just come right off – annoying! Don’t worry! You can avoid the summer oil by wearing a lightweight, oil-free sunscreen that soaks up extra oil throughout the day. Stash a pack of blotting papers inside your beach bag and you’ve got backup! No need to ditch the sunscreen because of oil ever again!


Lastly, remember that your skin is damaged by sun exposure over your lifetime, whether or not you burn. It is extremely important to find a sunscreen that works for you and to use it every day. Even when the sun is not shining, sunscreen is equally as important!

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