With summer now in full swing it's time to talk sunscreen! This is a topic that so many people are either uneducated on or just seem opposed to. Depending on the generation you grew up in there are different ways to look at sunscreens. There are the baby boomers who if I had a dime every time they told me that "back in the day we just used crisco oil" I would be insanely rich. Yes, we get it, you didn't grow up with sunscreen so you're unaware of the increasing need for it. Then there are the millennials who at a much higher risk for sun related damage and cancers at a younger age yet the information out there is so confusing that we are constantly breaking out from SPF or still getting burned. So let's get one thing straight, whether you burn or tan - YOU NEED SUNSCREEN. The US is the second country in the world to have the highest rate of skin cancers, second only to parts of Australia who have anti - sun ads the way we have anti - smoking ads. Take that in for a second, remember when everyone thought smoking was fine and then they turned out to be incredibly wrong. That's the same thing that is happening with lack of sun protection. So that being said not all sunscreens are created equally. Here is the run down on what to do and how to make the most of your summer without risking your health.
First, there are the conventional sunscreens where there is a chemical sunblock with maybe a physical block. The chemical based sunscreens have the ability to absorb the UV rays in your skin which is simply absorbing heat in the skin. This can can lead to inflammation - therefore breakouts or sensitivity. Physical blocks like titanium dioxide or zinc oxide are mineral based and reflect the sun while truly blocking it from the skin. This is the best form of sun protection but that intense of a barrier can sometimes suffocate the skin, therefore you get inflammation and breakouts. The last form that best for everyday is mineral powder SPF like colorscience, la bella donna or ilia. These powder forms are excellent for the breakout prone but can be too light if you are in need of extra coverage on vacation or beach days.
It's important to try the different types of sunscreen and see what works best for you in terms of coverage and breathability. I like Josh Rosebrook's nutrient day creme, suntegrity, badger and coola. There is also a brand called Elta MD that has one chemical in it but in my opinion can be really beneficial to clearing the skin because of the hyaluronic acid (water for the skin), niacinamide (vitamin b3) and non nano zinc.
I usually avoid certain ingredients in my sunscreen that are preservatives such as parabens, chemicals in any form as they are natural photo sensitizers (makes you sensitive to the sun) and have a claim to be an SPF of over 50 (that is just marketing - it doesn't exist). I look for natural ingredients, high zinc content (about 20%) and is enriched in cooling antioxidants (this is the most natural way to protect skin from anything). I also read the directions and learn specifically how to use the products since some sunscreens you must reapply a little more frequently.
I hope this sheds light on a the topic of sun care. For more information a great resource would also be EWG's sunscreen listings. Feel free to check out the video below for a true insight on how the sun sees you: