Warm sunny days just beg to be spent outdoors. While proper hydration is important for the body, many people overlook the importance of taking care of their skin. Long hours spent in the sun can be very damaging to the skin, and while the pain of a sunburn isn’t too long lived, the underlying damage can cause health issues later on in life.
Annually over 2 million people will have some type of skin cancer. One in 50 men and women will be diagnosed with melanoma which is the most serious form of skin cancer. Children should take even extra care with their skin considering just one bad sunburn can more than double their chance of developing melanoma later on in life.
And since warm weather appears in Texas long before the official arrival of summer, we wanted to provide a sunscreen guide to help you enjoy the sun for months and years to come.
Choosing the right sunscreen can be confusing with so many options on the market, but we have a few recommendations as you start your search for the sunscreen that’s right for you and your family.
- Avoid sunscreens with high SPF ratings. It’s not that high SPF ratings are inherently bad, but they will tempt you to stay out in the sun longer before reapplying more sunscreen. Not reapplying sunscreen regularly can cause you to have skin damage even though there may be no visible burns.
- Keep insect repellent out of your sunscreen. If you need insect repellent, buy it separately from your sunscreen.
- Spray sunscreens should be avoided since the chemicals released can be easily breathed in. Sunscreen ingredient oxybenzone can disrupt hormone levels and should be avoided when selecting a sunscreen.
- Along with avoiding ingredients that are hormone disruptors, Vitamin A products should be avoided also. Vitamin A is also labeled as retinol. Try looking for a sunscreen that has zinc oxide as an active ingredient. Zinc oxide provides good protection from UVA rays and is stable in direct sunlight.
Sunscreen and Children
Most sunscreens on the market are recommended only for children ages 6 months and up due to infants’ skin being highly sensitive to chemicals. Infants younger than 6 months should avoid exposure to direct sunlight. Avoid walks during mid-day when the sun is at its highest and instead try taking early morning or evening walks. Use the stroller’s canopy or an umbrella to shade direct sunlight off of infants. Take proper precautions and cover up with protective clothing and blankets to protect infant’s sensitive skin.
What do We Recommend?
After trying out several different brands of sunscreens, my favorites so far are Episencial SPF 35 and Thinksport SPF 50. I like that both of these brands have a rating of 1 on the hazard score key with the Environmental Working Group. This means that the sunscreens pose a low hazard rating for the chemicals that are in it. Each year the Environmental Working Group reviews and ranks different sunscreens and even list the best in several different categories.
Other Sunscreen and Suggestions for the Summer Sun
Now that we have an idea of which sunscreen is right for our skin and budget, it’s important that we understand how to use the stuff, especially since you can lower the risk of skin cancer risk with a few preventative measures.
- Plan your initial sunscreen application to be at least 15-20 minutes before your first exposure to the sun.
- Applying sunscreen just once during the day isn’t enough. Reapplication is just as important as using sunscreen in the first place. Reapply sunscreen at least every two hours, or after heavy sweating, swimming, and toweling off.
- Choose items of clothing that offer more coverage like wide-brimmed hats that provide shade on your face, neck, and ears. Baseball hats don’t offer as much coverage as wide-brimmed hats so additional sunscreen coverage is important on your neck and ears.
- Sunglasses aren’t just cool to wear, but also provide valuable protection from the sun.