Do: Check the ingredients
Josu-Ozkaritz/ShutterstockThe Environmental Working Group, a long-standing non-profit consumer information organization, has recently put out its updated Sunscreen Guide. It’s a comprehensive piece of work, featuring effectiveness ratings of 1700 sunscreens, information about sun exposure and skin cancer and a detailed breakdown of what we should and shouldn’t be looking for in a sunscreen. No time to read it before hitting the beach? Bookmark these key points instead:
Make sure you always read the ingredients list before buying a new sunscreen. Do look for the ingredients zinc, titanium dioxide, avenobenzone and Mexoryl SX, all of which are powerful UVA blockers that remain on the surface of the skin instead of absorbing into the body. Don't choose a product that includes ingredients that may affect hormones and/or are potentially carcinogenic, such as insect repellent, oxybenzone and vitamin A (retinyl palmitate). Make sure to try these specific sunscreens that dermatologists use on themselves.
Don't: Be fooled by high SPF sunscreens
Josu-Ozkaritz/ShutterstockDon't waste your money on sunscreens claiming an SPF higher than 50+. According to the FDA, there’s no evidence such products provide better protection against harmful rays—and they may actually make us feel overconfident and less likely to reapply. Make sure you do opt for SPF 15-30+ daily. If you plan to be outdoors for an extended period of time, slather on the 30+. Avoid these common sunscreen mistakes that most people make.
Do: Use broad-spectrum protection
Sergey-Novikov/ShutterstockAlways choose a long-lasting sunscreen that offers broad-spectrum protection from both UVA and UVB rays. But don't think that this means you don't have to reapply often. Even waterproof sunscreens eventually wash off, and all sunscreens can be easily rubbed off by towels, sand, and clothes. These sunscreen myths makes dermatologists cringe.
Do: Remind men to wear sunscreen
kudla/ShutterstockAlways remind your husbands, sons, boyfriends, brothers and dads to wear sunscreen. According to research done by the Environmental Working Group, 78 percent of women wear sunscreen while only 34 percent of men do. This is what the labels on your sunscreen really mean.
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Don't: Skip talking to your pediatrician
RimDream/ShutterstockNever put sunscreen on an infant without consulting with your pediatrician. Make sure to talk with a doctor first about specific types of sunscreen. Then, when you do apply a new brand of sunscreen for the first time test a small amount of sunscreen on your child’s wrist before slathering it on, to test for an allergic reaction to the ingredients.
Don't: Only stick to the sprays
Alliance/ShutterstockMany consumers love using spray on sunscreens because they are quick and easy. However, the Environmental Working Group says that they don't provide an even and thick enough layer of sunscreen on the skin to properly protect it. They suggest only using lotion sunscreens, especially on your face.
Do: Use other forms of protection besides sunscreen
Alliance/ShutterstockIt hasn't been proven that sunscreen protects against most types of skin cancer. Make sure when you are out in the sun that you guard your skin in other ways besides just lotion. Wear shirts, hats, pants, and shorts whenever possible. If you're at the beach, try to stay under the shade of an umbrella when you're not playing in the water.
Do: Avoid sunscreen with a vitamin A additive
kudla/ShutterstockMany companies add a form of Vitamin A to their sunscreens called retinyl palmitate. It's supposed to combat skin aging but studies have found that it can also trigger the growth of tumors and lesions on the skin when used in sunlight. It's advised that you not only avoid sunscreens with this additive, but also body lotions, and makeup, especially lipstick.
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