You may have heard that you should wear sunscreen everyday, but with so many to choose from how do you know that you are choosing the safest and most effective sunscreen? With summer around the corner, now is a good time to start using sunscreen if you haven’t started already. But where to begin?
The best place to start is to read the list of ingredients. Your skin is your largest organ so it’s important that you protect it and use a product that is safe! The products that you put on your skin can be absorbed into your body and this is no different for sunscreen!
Here are the top tips you need to know when choosing a sunscreen:
1. Choose a mineral sunscreen.
Try and find a mineral sunscreen that contains zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. These active ingredients create a barrier to protect your skin from the sun and can block both UVA and UVB damage. They are safe, effective and don’t break down in the sun.
2. Avoid oxybenzones
Oxybenzones were found in 2 out of 3 sunscreen products in 2019. They commonly cause allergic reactions and are easily absorbed through the skin. They are potentially a hormone disruptor and may be connected to changes in testosterone levels (Ghazipura, et.al., 2017). These ingredients are also harmful to the environment by decreasing egg production in fish at high concentrations (Coronado, 2008) and by bleaching coral reefs (Danovaro, 2008).
3. Avoid aerosols and use sunscreen creams.
The number of sunscreen sprays are on the rise and these sunscreens can easily be inhaled, which can be harmful.
4. Find a sunscreen with an SPF between 30 and 50.
To properly protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays, you must wear a sunscreen that has an SPF (sun protection factor). A Sunscreen with an SPF above 50 is not necessary and may mislead customers with a false sense of security (EWG, 2019). It’s important to apply your sunscreen 30 minutes before going into the sun and to keep reapplying throughout the day! There are two types of harmful UV rays:
a. UVA: which can penetrate into the dermis and can lead to premature aging.
b. UVB: will usually burn the superficial layers of the skin.
The SPF value is a better measure of how well a sunscreen shields the skin from UVB rays, rather than UVA rays, so it’s important to look for a sunscreen that offers protection for both.
Are you curious about how your sunscreen rates against others? Click here to see!
Coronado, De Haro, Xin Deng, Rempel, Lavado, Schlenk (2008). Estrogenic activity and reproductive effects of the UV-filter oxybenzone (2-hydroxy-4-methyoxyphenyl- methanone) in fish. Aquatic Toxicology 90(3): 182-187. Retrieved from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0166445X08002798
Danovaro, et. al., (2008) Sunscreens cause coral bleaching by promoting viral infections. Environ Health Perspect 116(4): 441-447. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2291018/
EWG (2019) Environmental Working Group. Retrieved from: https://www.ewg.org/sunscreen/report/executive-summary/
Ghazipura, McGowan, Arslan, Hossain. (2017) Exposure to benzophenone-3 and reproductive toxicity: A systematic review of human and animal studies. Reprod Toxicol 73: 175-183. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28844799