Everything You Ever Needed to Know About Sunscreen

*This post contains some affiliate links, however, this is not a paid collaboration with Tova & Wild. For more information about brand collaborations, affiliate links and more, please click here.*

Summer is almost here and in case you didn’t get the memo, the sun is literally damaging your skin. I have been wearing sunscreen on an almost daily basis since I was a kid because, despite the fact that I can get and maintain a tan, I still burn. As it turns out, my grandmother constantly reminding me to put sunscreen on my skin daily was a good thing, because she was right, even when it’s cloudy or rainy.

Now I know what some of you are thinking, “sunscreen is sticky and greasy and leaves a white tint on your skin,” but seriously sunscreen has made some serious improvements since the days of gobs of sunscreen on your nose. And in pursuit of good skin wellness and with summertime approaching, here’s everything to know about sunscreen—in addition to some of my favorite sunscreen options.

Why Do You Even Need Sunscreen?

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Consistently going out in the sun without sunscreen can lead to premature aging, wrinkles, and skin cancer, regardless of race or skin color—and sunscreen is the best product out there to protect you.

Dr. Diane Madfes a dermatologist and clinical professor at Mt. Sanai Hospital says, “A good way to reassure yourself (and readers) is to look at areas that are photoprotected by clothes, i.e. the buttocks.” Due to the coverage of clothing around these areas, the skin tends to be tighter, smoother, and maintain better elasticity than other areas, and sunscreen can help protect against the adverse effects of the sun.

The sun emits two different types of rays: UVA, that penetrates deep into your skin’s thickest layer, and UVB, which burns the superficial layers of your skin—which causes a loss of collagen in your skin, creating lines, wrinkles, and hyperpigmentation. UVA won’t necessarily cause you to burn, but the effects will creep up over time and the most noticeable factor is skin elasticity,

However, it’s wearing sunscreen daily is not all cosmetic, according to the American Cancer Society, more than 9,000 people are expected to die this year from skin cancer alone. Studies have shown that the suns damaging effects cause 90 percent of all nonmelanoma skin cancers and roughly 65 percent of all melanomas—melanoma being the most serious type of skin cancer.

Take a deep breath, because the good news is that when used properly, sunscreen absorbs and blocks sun rays, significantly reducing your risk of skin cancer and other skin related issues.

There Are Too Many Types of Sunscreen

I used to get overwhelmed when purchasing sunscreen too, and to be totally honest, you really need to experiment and find a good fit for you. However, sunscreens can be simply broken down into mineral or chemical sunscreens.

Mineral sunscreens, also called physical, block UVA and UVB rays, and include active ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Mineral sunscreens tend to leave a white residue (aka ‘lifeguard nose’) and run off easier than chemical. However, there is no wait time between application and safely going outdoors.

Chemical sunscreens, which are the most common types of sunscreens, feature active ingredients like oxybenzone, octinoxate, avobenzone, and PABA, which absorb and reduce UV rays’ ability to penetrate the skin. Most sunscreens use both physical and chemical active ingredients. Chemical sunscreens also have been found to contain two active ingredients (oxybenzone and octinoxate) which are leading factors in coral bleaching and now, Hawaii’s ban of chemical sunscreens. Chemical sunscreens tend to be colorless and less thick feeling, but can cause irritation or stinging and typically take 20 minutes to start working.

Whats the Deal With SPF?

Simply put, SPF means sun protective factor, and the number refers to the amount of time you can stay in the sun without getting burned.

SPF 15 means it will take you 15 times as long to get burned had you not used the sunscreen—and so forth and so on. SPF is related to the amount of UVB protection and not necessarily UVA, which means that an SPF 15 will filter out roughly 95 percent of all incoming UVB rays, while an SPF 50 will keep out 98 percent of all UVB rays. A higher SPF isn’t harmful or negative, it just doesn’t drastically make a difference in protection.

SPF Sunscreen

The simplest and most effective thing to schedule into your morning routine is to check the weather before leaving your house. Almost all weather apps have a UV index guide, which rates the strength of UV radiation that day from a scale of 1-10, 10 being the most intense radiation. This can help you decide how strong of an SPF you might need on any given day.

So What Sunscreen Should I Get?

Honestly, the best way to purchase sunscreen is to start with the basics, as in, SPF 30 or above and any sunscreen that contains broad spectrum. This will protect you from both kinds of UV rays. Nonscented and non-tinted are great options for coverage that won’t leave you feeling like you are at the beach all day, and some face sunscreens even contain pigmentation and act almost similar to a CC cream or tinted moisturizer.

For activewear, stick with water resistant and sweat resistant.

For the everyday makeup wearer, a chemical sunscreen would work best due. However, spray sunscreens don’t have the same amount of coverage as well as fumes are still being tested by the FDA for risks caused by inhalation.

There are also types of powder sunscreens, however, they are usually not strong enough for long-term use or if it’s windy. With a powder, you will need to reapply regularly throughout your day.

Moisturizers and makeup that states that it has SPF in it are also not guaranteed sun protection, especially if you plan on being outdoors for more than an hour. Two-in-one products that contain SPF are often not applied thick enough, causing a lack of SPF protection than the actual level advertised.

Face sunscreens that are not greasy and do not have a white tint are labeled “micronized.”

Sunscreen Application…Cos’ It’s Necessary

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Sunscreen application should be applied liberally and generously. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends applying at least one ounce of liquid sunscreen, or about one shot-glass full, to the exposed areas of your body, and a nickel-sized amount to your face. When applying, make sure the sunscreen covers the entire surface of the skin.

All areas should be covered especially on the back of the neck, ears, and nose, as those areas are usually forgotten and remain burned. Sunscreen needs to be reapplied every one to two hours to work effectively and should be reapplied immediately after swimming or sweating.

Some of My Favorites

I know this might seem like a lot of information to throw at you, but in actuality, its pretty common sense, and when you find sunscreens that you like to use, the process is a million times easier.

Sunscreens
In order from left to right, Sun Bum Moisturizing Sunscreen Lotion, La Roche-Posay Anthelios 60 Clear Skin Dry Sunscreen, MD Solar Sciences Mineral Créme SPF 30,Biore Aqua Rich Watery Essence SPF 50+, Supergoop! Invisible Setting Powder 45+

For my face, I typically use La Roche-Posay Anthelios 60 Clear Skin Dry Sunscreen, and for my body, I use Sun Bum Moisturizing Sunscreen Lotion. The Sun Bum Moisturizing Sunscreen Lotion is hypoallergenic and made with body-friendly vegan ingredients, and is made for those of us with sensitive skin. It offers UVA and UVB protection for up to 80 minutes in the water and all day and smells wonderful. It can be a little dewy for those of you with oily skin, but it won’t make you break out because the ingredients are so gentle.

One undetectable sunscreen brand that I love is Shiseido Senka Mineral UV Gel and Biore Aqua Rich Watery Essence SPF 50+. They hide well under makeup, go on clear, and are not greasy, and don’t leave any sort of shine on the face. They both contain alcohol, which means that it can be drying to your skin and potentially harmful to sensitive skin. If you do have sensitive skin but want to try it out, Amazon sells 1 oz. containers that you can spot test before you take the full plunge.

Supergoop! has an Invisible Setting Powder SPF 45+ and it works well if you need to reapply throughout the day over your makeup.

For days when I go to the beach or spend any time in the water, I always use a mineral sunscreen as the effects of two active ingredients in chemical sunscreens have been linked to coral reef bleaching. Some of my favorite mineral sunscreens are Manda Sun Paste SPF 50+ and Badger Healthy Body Care All-Natural Sunscreen Cream SPF 30. They both go on pretty thick, but I always feel like their coverage is great and when I’m at the beach it doesn’t really matter how tinted it appears because I definitely am not about to get burnt. There is also MD Solar Sciences Mineral Crème SPF 30, it goes on clear and is made for sensitive skin types and is safe for the beach.

As I’m getting older, I realize how important some of those tricks your grandmother taught you, pay off. Now I’m even more of a stickler for sunscreen than I was previously and am constantly looking for new-to-me formulas that I can try out.

*This post contains some affiliate links, however, this is not a paid collaboration with Tova & Wild. For more information about brand collaborations, affiliate links and more, please click here.*