How To Buy Sunscreen

If you play out­doors and plan to stay out­doors, sun­screen ranks right up there with water and prop­er attire as a neces­si­ty. Since neglect­ing your skin dur­ing your adven­tures can lead to sun­stroke, sun­burn, blis­ters, and even a trip to the doc­tor, basic knowl­edge about this won­drous pro­tec­tive inven­tion could save you pain and even save your life. Here are a few top­ics that will help you learn how to choose the best sun­screen for your style.

The Basics

SPF: The Sun Pro­tec­tive Fac­tor (SPF) is typ­i­cal­ly labeled on every bot­tle of sun­screen. This is a lab­o­ra­to­ry rat­ing which tells you how much pro­tec­tion from the sun you’ll actu­al­ly be get­ting when you apply the lotion, spray, or gel. Now, accord­ing to new FDA reg­u­la­tions, SPF not only refers to how much pro­tec­tion you’ll receive from UVB (ultra­vi­o­lent rays) but also UVA rays which dam­age the skin, cause wrin­kles, and can increase the risk of can­cer. The gen­er­al con­sen­sus among doc­tors is that an SPF of 30 is suf­fi­cient pro­tec­tion and any­thing above that real­ly doesn’t give you added pro­tec­tion and is just putting more chem­i­cals on your body.

Water­proof: We rec­om­mend “water resis­tant” sun­screen, as do most doc­tors and out­door enthu­si­asts. Since most of us sweat when we’re get­tin’ our out-of-doors recre­ation on, the water resis­tant fac­tor helps us to stay pro­tect­ed longer. How­ev­er, it is impor­tant to note that no sun­screen is tru­ly “water­proof” and, there­fore, must be con­tin­u­ous­ly reap­plied to main­tain effectiveness.

How Long Does it Last? The FDA rec­om­mends that you reap­ply sun­screen every two hours, par­tic­u­lar­ly if you’ve been sweat­ing or swimming.

Ingre­di­ents: Sun­screen uses var­i­ous ingre­di­ents to pro­tect the skin from UVA and UVB rays. Sun­screen inte­grates chem­i­cal blocks and phys­i­cal block ingre­di­ents. Chem­i­cal blocks pre­vent sun­light from pen­e­trat­ing with­in the skin. Phys­i­cal blocks reflect UV rays away from the skin. UVB blocks include zinc oxide, tita­ni­um oxide and PABA (Para Aminoben­zoic Acid). UVA ingre­di­ents include Ben­zoophe­nones, Oxy­ben­zone, Dioxy­ben­zine and Avobenzone.

Appli­ca­tion Style

Lotion: For many years, the lotion vari­ety of sun­screen has been one of the only and most pop­u­lar options for consumers.

Pros: Can be effec­tive­ly spread all over the body for even coverage.

Cons: Messy and can come off on clothes.

Spray-On: Spray-on sun­screens have become very pop­u­lar in recent years and offer sev­er­al benefits.

Pros: Less messy and less “greasy” than lotions. Are eas­i­er to self-apply is areas such as the   neck and back.

Cons: Some use CFCs and oth­er “aerosol” like chem­i­cals can dam­age the envi­ron­ment    and may be harm­ful when inhaled.

Stick: This glue-stick like appli­ca­tor is one of our per­son­al favorites.

Pros: Small, portable, and pro­vides excel­lent cov­er­age, par­tic­u­lar­ly for the face, neck and ears. Not “greasy” and no “aerosol” like fumes to be inhaled.

Cons: Because these sticks are small, they take longer to apply than the lotions or sprays and run out more quickly.