Summer sun safety series: Sunscreens


With summer in full swing, it seemed a good time to do a short series of posts regarding sun safety. As the sun continues to get stronger we are all reminded about protecting our skin....usually just after the first time we are out a little longer than we planned and come home pink and a bit over toasted.  With all of the options out on the market it can be hard to figure out what the safest but most protective products are.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has an excellent guide posted on their website which goes through the basics of sunscreens (what ingredients are important, which to avoid, etc) as well as providing lists of the good and bad options out on the market.  You can even search for your favorite brand to find out if it falls in the good, bad or ugly categories.

Click here for the EWG sunscreen Guide

Here are some key points to consider when choosing a sunscreen:

  • Avoid sunscreens with oxybenzone (thought to be a hormone disruptor & damaging to cells) and retinyl palmitate (doesn't increase effectiveness of UV protection and may increase skin cancer risk in sun exposed skin)
  • Choose "broad spectrum" sunscreens which protect from both UVA and UVB rays
  • SPF only refers to protection from UVB rays and SPF of more than 50 has not been shown to provide significantly more protection
  • Apply at least 30 minutes before heading into the sun and be sure to reapply after swimming, sweating or every two hours.

Of course, staying covered up and in the shade is the best protection but for most of us, that isn't always practical or possible.   So, be sun smart and enjoy the summer!