You know you “need” to wear it. But with conflicting information, seemingly endless options and a desire for just a hint of summertime tan, it can be difficult navigating the world of SPF. Given that summer is just around the corner, we decided to break down sunscreen into some easily digestible, helpful facts and tidbits. Let’s go!
Look for “broad spectrum” coverage
The sun’s radiation comes in three varieties: UVB, UVA1 and UVA2. All three will contribute to skin cancer, with UVA rays penetrating the skin more deeply, causing the dreaded aging of the skin. All this said, you want to ensure that your sunscreen is protecting against both UVA and UVB rays; keep an eye out for “broad spectrum” when purchasing!
The mineral vs. chemical debate
Let’s break down the two first. Chemical sunscreens (with ingredients like oxybenzone and avobenzone) interact with the skin cells to protect them. While many people prefer these sunscreens for the ease of application (they often come as aerosols) and their bendability, there are concerns about the toxicity around these ingredients, especially oxybenzone, which is a known hormone disruptor and allergen. Mineral sunscreens, on the other hand, use ingredients like zinc oxide and titatium dioxide to act as physical blockers of the sun. These sunscreens sometimes do not blend in as easily on the skin (think: lifeguard with a white nose), but offer more comprehensive and longer-lasting coverage. Furthermore, mineral sunscreen formulas tend not to have as many harmful additives and cause no real health concerns.
Higher SPFs may be misleading
Ready to buy SPF 100? Hold off for one second – you may be investing in a bit of marketing ploy. But first let’s clarify what it is that number represents; for example, an SPF of 30 means that you, in theory, can spend 30 times as long as you would normally without sun protection in the sunshine before burning. Make that number 100 and the same thinking applies… right? Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Not only have researchers found that many high SPF sunscreens really don’t provide the coverage they claim, higher SPFs may lull users into staying in the sun longer without protection. So, opt for a reasonable SPF (30) and reapply regularly: At least every hour; more if you’re spending time in the water.
What’s “the best”?
So, where does that leave us? While we recommend doing your own research and finding what works for best you, we love mineral sunscreens like Badger (which uses non-nano zinc oxide, which offers the most comprehensive sun protection); opt for an SPF of 15 or 30. Reapply regularly, wear a hat and have fun! We’ll see you at the beach.