Summer is arguably the best season of the year. Longer days, warmer nights, and the always beautiful sun put our favorite outdoor activities on the front burner. With the increase in time spent outdoors comes more exposure to the sun, and subsequently the need to protect our skin. We’ll be the first ones to admit that we love a good tan, but looking like weathered leather is no bueno (from both an aesthetic and medical standpoint.) Sunscreen is king this time of year so consider these factors when choosing your next tube of sun protection.
Chemical vs Mineral Sunscreen.
There are primarily two types of sunscreen, chemical and mineral. Chemical sunscreen relies on chemicals, usually oxybenzone and avobenzone, to absorb the sun’s ultraviolet rays and transform them to red beam, which is less harmful for your skin than ultraviolet rays. Since chemical sunscreen contains carbon, it is often referred to as organic sunscreen. Mineral sunscreen, often referred to as inorganic sunscreen since it doesn’t contain carbon, usually contains zinc oxide and titanium dioxide which reflect the sun’s ultraviolet rays.
When choosing between the two types of sunscreen, it is important to remember why you are wearing sunscreen in the first place. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States, and benefits from wearing sunscreen outweigh the potential risks from its ingredients. However, studies have shown that oxybenzone has been found to cause hormonal changes in animals; short-term research on people, however, did not show any adverse effect. Both chemical and mineral sunscreens have their advantages and disadvantages and the bottom line is the best sunscreen is the one you're using on a daily basis.
Keeki Pure & Simple Natural Sunscreen (SPF 45) and Dr. Mercola Sunscreen (SPF 50) are two of our favorite options for sunscreen this year. Be sure to check out EWG's complete list of best sunscreens
for more sunscreen recommendations.
As you may have noticed, sunscreen comes labeled with an SPF (Sun Protection Factor) number. This number is a measure of protection against ultraviolet rays, which can be the leading cause of sunburns and can lead to skin cancer. For all intents and purposes, a sunscreen with a high SPF will offer more protection than that of a lower SPF number. In a recent post from Consumer Reports, SPF 30 blocks 97 percent of UVB rays, SPF 50 blocks 98 percent, and SPF 100 blocks 99 percent.
Other Protection Methods
Although sunscreen is a great option for protecting skin, simply covering your skin can be even more effective than sunscreen when battling UV rays. It doesn’t always make sense to wear long sleeves and pants when out swimming, but a hike at high elevations can be much safer for your skin when you cover up. We make clothing with an Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) rating which is based on the construction, color, and treatment of the garment. By purposefully buying clothing with a high UPF rating, you can ensure greater skin protection from ultraviolet rays. Just don't forget to wear a hat and later up any skin that still sees the sun!