Now that the warmer months are upon us, it’s time to stock up on our favorite sunscreens. Most often we put very little thought and consideration into purchasing a sunscreen, but do you really know how to buy the best sun blocking protectant? It might seem like a no brainer to some, but there’s more to consider than choosing the highest SPF number.
Welcome to Sunscreen 101 where you will never purchase the wrong sunscreen again, where you will know which ingredients to look for and what type of sun protectant is best for you.
Whats up with SPF ?
SPF means sunscreen protection factor. It gauges the protectiveness against the sun’s ultra violet B rays, which is most commonly known as UVB. There is no such thing as a perfect sunscreen that can block 100% of the sun’s solar energy. Sunscreens claiming to be over SPF 50+ are a waste of money. Stick with SPF 15, which blocks 93% of UVB rays, SPF 30, which blocks 97% or SPF 50, which blocks 98% of UVB rays. SPF 30 is a good overall protection if you are going to be in the sun for longer than two hours.
What are the differences between broad spectrum & water-resistant?
Broad spectrum means that the sunscreen will protect against UVB rays and UVA (ultra violet A rays) rays. UVA rays penetrates deeper into the skin resulting in premature skin aging and brown spots. Too much exposure to both rays are most commonly linked to cancer.
Sunscreens that maintains their SPF level after 40 minutes of being in the water are labeled water resistant. If they maintain their SPF level after 80 minutes then it’s labeled water proof. Although no sunscreen is truly water proof or sweat resistant it will be enough to cover you for up to 40 to 80 minutes.
Well, is there a big difference in Chemical vs. Mineral Sunscreens?
Yes, chemical sunscreens and mineral sunscreens are just that, one is made up of chemicals to help block the sun’s rays and the other is made of natural ingredients. With chemical sunscreens the ingredients that helps to block the sun’s harmful rays are Avobenzone, the highest rated by the Environmental Protection Agency, Ecamsule, recently approved and patented under the trade name Mexoryl SX by L’Oreal, Octocrylene and Octinoxate. The UV rays are absorbed and then released as small amounts of heat. Although, people have been using chemical based sunscreen for decades, chemical sunscreen might irritate those with sensitive skin and have recently been questioned if it is a health risk.
The main ingredients in mineral or natural sunscreen are zinc oxide, the highest by the Environmental Protection Agency, or titanium dioxide. The UV rays are reflected away just like having tiny mirrors on the skin. Natural sunscreen is usually preferred by people with sensitive skin or those who are opposed to chemicals. Since it’s all natural, it might be harder to apply and may leave a white sheen.
So, what are some of the best sunscreens?
The best sunscreens are the ones that you will use on a daily basis. Just like other skin products it’s all about trial and error. Go to a near by Sephora and ask for samples of different sunscreens to test out. Also, see what the return policy is of your local drug store/pharmacy. A lot of the times you can try out products and return them if they don’t meet your expectations. There’s a lot of misconceptions that sunscreen should only be worn in the summer months, but sunscreen should be worn year round. UVA rays are still harmful even when the sun cannot be seen.
Now that you have some surface info in choosing the best sunscreen. Stay tuned to see my picks for the best ones.