Sunscreen demystified

Everyone knows that sunscreen protects our skin from painful sunburn and skin cancers, but determining how to choose and use sunscreens properly can be confusing. You could always Google it, but sorting through all of those results to actually find useful information is difficult. Luckily your friends at RetraceHealth are here to help with a list of some important things to keep in mind.

1: Choose SPF30 to SPF50

Anything below 30 is likely to provide inadequate protection, and anything above 50 is unnecessary.

2: UVA ages, UVB burns – get a sunscreen that protects against both

SPF only protects against UVB rays. Make sure your sunscreen says “broad spectrum,” meaning it protects against both UVB and UVA.

3: Pay attention to the ingredients in your sunscreen

Ingredients like titanium dioxide (okay) and/or zinc oxide (best) are thick, broad-spectrum, have been well tested, and are not absorbed into the body. Other common ingredients like retinyl palmitate and oxybenzone, have potentially dangerous side effects, so use with caution.

4: Apply sunscreen 15-30 minutes before sun exposure

This allows the ingredients to soak into or create a barrier layer on your skin.

5: Reapply every 2 hours

Doesn’t a higher SPF allow for longer protection? In theory, but sunlight breaks down the active ingredients in sunscreen within a few hours regardless of SPF and water/sweat will negate the effectiveness of all SPF in a similar amount of time. So if you’re actually you know outside or active when using sunscreen you should reapply every 2 hours.

6: Protect yourself even on a cloudy day

The UV rays go right through an overcast sky, so you can burn and permanently damage your skin even if you can’t see the sun.

7: Throw out expired sunscreen

Sunscreens actually do expire as the chemicals in them break down over time, reducing their effectiveness. To get the best out of your sunscreen store it properly (i.e. not in a hot place like a car) and replace it when needed.

So now you know. Follow these basic tips and you will have a fun, enjoyable time in the sun with no worries about a miserable sunburned week to follow. And if you are wondering when you should use sunscreen, we have one final tip for you: Don’t try to figure out when you should and when you shouldn’t use sunscreen. Just always use it and you’ll have no regrets.