Sun Protection Recommendations
By Melissa Gulden
Fun in the SunBy Melissa Gulden
Those lazy days of summer are upon us and, for those of us here in the North State, they bring the potential for a whole lot of sun exposure. As you buckle those fabulous new wedge sandals and swipe that glossy watermelon shade on your lips, don’t forget the most basic warm-weather accessory: sun protection. I used to love to lie in the sun all day, floating in the pool without a care in the world. But it’s a different time and I’m not 20 years old anymore. If only I had learned earlier to cover up! So, to get you summer ready, here are some top sun care products, as well as dermatologist-recommended reminders and tips for effective application.
According to dermatologists, the best time to apply SPF is right after showering or before leaving home so the product is able to fully absorb into the skin and provide protection from ultraviolet radiation. Go with a broad-spectrum sunscreen, in either chemical or mineral formula (which protects against both UVA and UVB rays) and re-apply every one to two hours, especially when you’re outside all day. Also look for products that are water resistant and protect anywhere from 40 to 80 minutes, with a minimum SPF of 30.
The best sunscreen is the one you’ll use consistently and apply correctly – and liberal application is the key. You should use approximately an ounce to cover your entire body every two hours (shot glass size) and reapply whenever you get wet. (Try Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch SPF 55, $8.) Consider a mineral sunscreen. Some chemical sunscreens contain oxybenzone, which research has found to significantly destroy coral reefs; furthermore, many chemicals can irritate the skin. For a mineral sunscreen you can buy at most drugstores, try Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen SPF 30+. Keep a tube in your car – many people forget to apply sunscreen while driving. You get so much sun damage on the driver’s window side of your face and body, and once you hit 50 or 60, you will start to notice the damage even more. This sunscreen doesn’t have any chemicals, fragrance or common-known irritants; plus, the bottle turns blue in harmful UV light, reminding you to apply (Amazon, $12).
EltaMD is a favorite sunscreen among dermatologists, and this one comes in a non-aerosol spray (Broad Spectrum 46). Although it sprays on white, it rubs in clear and feels light on the skin. There is also an aerosol version, EltaMD’s UV Aero SPF 45, and both are water resistant for 80 minutes. (The aerosol version does contain octinoxate, so it isn’t completely chemical-free.) Spray sunscreens are great for touch-ups throughout the day, every two hours if you are outdoors, or after drying off post water. EltaMD comes in many different formulas, including a tinted version that doesn’t leave a white cast. It also has hyaluronic acid in it, which can make skin feel wonderful if it’s irritated. Check www.Dermstore.com for prices.
As some sprays can end up lost in the breeze, Supergoop makes a mousse version. Supergoop Super Power Sunscreen Mousse SPF 50 is easy to apply. The frothy foam isn’t sticky like lotion; it absorbs on the spot and provides full coverage. Kids love it, too ($34, Amazon).
And speaking of kiddos, dermatologists agree that once kids reach 6 months – the age they can safely wear sunscreen – they should exclusively use mineral sunscreens that are hypoallergenic and tested for efficacy. This specific brand from Neutrogena, which is formulated for babies, features a broad-spectrum SPF 50 shield against UVA and UVB rays, and is dermatologist tested, water-resistant and hypoallergenic (Neutrogena Pure & Free Baby Mineral Sunscreen, $10.99, Target).
Finally, the best cruelty-free sunscreen is from Pacifica. The environmentally friendly and 100 percent vegan line is free of just about any scary additive you can think of, and comes in a stick, lotion and spray, depending on your preference. Just be sure to check the ingredients, as not all of Pacifica’s products are chemical free. Try Pacifica Sun + Suncare Mineral Face Shade Coconut Probiotic SPF 30 (Target, $13).
With so many options available, there really is no excuse to not cover up – with sunscreen, that is. Whatever formula, whatever brand, there is truly a sun protection product for anyone. So get outside and enjoy frolicking in the sand and surf – we’ve got you covered. •