sunscreen safety

How to Buy the Best Sunscreen for Your Skin this Summer

It’s 2019. By now, everyone should know: you need to wear sunscreen.

Not only is sunscreen helpful in shielding your skin from harmful UV rays — the #1 cause of skin cancer, according to the American Cancer Society — but it also helps to prevent premature aging, sunburns, and blotchiness of the face.

UV rays penetrate the skin every time they come in contact with the sun. Because of this, it is important to practice safe sunscreen use all year long, not only in the summertime when the days are longer and the sun is stronger.

It is recommended to reapply sunscreen every two hours to protect your skin from sunburns. Although you may not see the benefits right away, the advantages of using sunscreen can be seen later on in life.

Studies have found that sunscreen offers better protection against the sun than wearing a full-length dress; in fact, cotton dresses offer zero protection altogether.

These results answer the age-old question, “Why wear sunscreen?”, and yet, with so many options on the market, consumers are still left wondering exactly which sunscreen to buy.

Choosing a Sunscreen

When choosing a sunscreen, always consider the ingredients, not just the label or marketing — which can be false or misleading. Sunscreen should contain, at least: Titanium dioxide, Octyl methoxycinnimate (or OMC), Avobenzone (also known as Parsol), and Zinc oxide.

Sunscreen should:

  • Shield your skin from harmful UV rays
  • Prevent premature aging
  • Lower skin cancer risks
  • Lower blotchiness of the face
  • Prevent sunburns
  • Prevent tanning
  • Enhance skin health

Finding the right brand of sunscreen for your skin can be difficult and time-consuming, but it doesn’t have to be.

There are countless varieties of sunscreens available at affordable rates on the market today — the FDA estimates that there are over 12,000 sunscreen products sold in the U.S. alone.

What to look for:

  • Choose a sunscreen that is waterproof
  • Choose a sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 30
  • Choose a broad spectrum sunscreen or gel that is non-comedogenic and hypoallergenic
  • Choose a sunscreen that is dermatologists approved (recommended, but not necessary)

What to avoid:

Almost two-thirds of all sunscreens recently evaluated by the Environmental Working Agency would not be considered safe and effective under newly proposed FDA standards. This year, the group analyzed more than 1,300 products with a sun protection factor (or SPF), and, as reported in 2018, over 60% of the products evaluated don’t offer adequate sun protection OR contain harmful chemicals. The 2019 products, judged by the FDA found similar results.

Under the proposed rule, Titanium dioxide and Zinc oxide have been classified as GRASE, or, “generally recognized as safe and effective.”

The two ingredients that are not classified GRASE are PABA and Tolamine salicylate.

For more information on the studies, take a look at this information about sunscreen safety:

https://www.aad.org/public/spot-skin-cancer/learn-about-skin-cancer/prevent/is-sunsceen-safe

 

How to manage a sunburn:

In addition to pure aloe vera gel, which can sometimes feel sticky, you can use Lavender essential oil for sunburns.

Lavender will help your skin to heal and prevent scarring. It can be used on its own or blended with other essential oils like peppermint or melaleuca (tea tree oil) to give it some extra oomph!

If you find yourself — after a long day in the sun — with a harsh burn, try one of these aloe vera alternatives:

  • Cool compress: Put 2 cups of cool water in a bowl. Add 10 drops of lavender (or 5 drops of lavender and 5 drops of peppermint or melaleuca oil) and soak a clean washcloth in it. Apply to the burned area for 20 minutes. Repeat as necessary.
  • Healing bath: For an all-over sunburn, take a cool or lukewarm bath with 10+ drops of lavender in it. Alternately, take a baking soda bath. Add 1/2 cup baking soda, 5 drops of lavender and 5 drops of peppermint or melaleuca for a soothing, healing soak.
  • Roller ball: Fill a small roller bottle half full with fractionated coconut oil or another carrier oil. Add 10 drops lavender oil (or 5 drops of lavender and 5 drops of peppermint or melaleuca oil) for a soothing and cooling blend to roll over the affected area. (Note: do not apply to blistered sunburns!)
  • Spray mist: Put 1/2 cup of water in a spray bottle. Add 10 drops of lavender (or 5 drops of lavender and 5 drops of peppermint or melaleuca oil) and mist over the affected area.
  • Healing balm: For future sunburns, you can create a soothing balm. Melt 4 oz. of coconut oil on your stove or in the microwave. Add 40 drops of lavender oil (or 20 drops of lavender and 20 drops of peppermint or melaleuca oil) and stir. Pour into a clean jar and cap. Allow to cool. When needed, rub a small amount over the affected area. (Note: do not apply to blistered sunburns!)

The Takeaway:

To protect you and your family from the sun, Dermatologists recommend that you:

  • Seek shade during the sun’s strongest hours: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
  • Wear lightweight, long-sleeved shirts and pants, wide-brimmed hats, and sunglasses to protect your skin from the sun
  • Apply sunscreen to all skin that clothing won’t cover

And, of course, have a great summer — in or out of the sun! As Stylecraze.com suggests, “Enjoy the sun 365 days with a liberal dab of sunscreen.”