Your Sunscreen Guide For Summer
It's heating up outside, the beaches are beginning to be flooded with people, and we're staring at the convenient store shelves trying to discern what means what on sunscreen labels. Although it's recommended to incorporate sunscreen into your skincare routine throughout the year, it's especially important to armor up during the summer season.
We used to be able to simply refer to the SPF and plan on what level of tan we wanted to be that year, now we have a lot more details to read through and consider. That's why we put together this list, to help define all of the terminology you might find on a sunscreen container now, and what that means for you and your skin.
1. Broad Spectrum
All sunscreens protect against UVB rays, which are the main cause of sunburn and skin cancers. But UVA rays also contribute to skin cancer and premature aging, and only some sunscreens protect against these, sunscreens containing the 'broad spectrum' certification that is.
Only products that pass a certain test can be labeled “broad spectrum.” Products that are not broad spectrum have to display a warning that they only protect against sunburn, not cancer or signs of aging. We recommend always using a 'broad spectrum' sunscreen to receive the full range of protection from sun rays.
Comedones are the fancy term for pimples, and if you're acne-prone it's likely you'll be looking for products that clog pores and lead to a higher frequency of pimples. We recommend choosing a sunscreen with drying salicylic acid and zinc oxide, and avoid ones that contain lipids like coconut oil and cocoa butter which are not noncomedogenic.
3. Waterproof v. Water-Resistant
Unfortunately no sunscreen is completely water-proof or sweat-proof. If you do choose a sunscreen brand that claims to be 'water-resistant', check the specifications on the label to see how long it lasts, either 40 or 80 minutes while swimming or sweating. Most 'sport' or 'activity' related sunscreens have an 80 minute water-resistant SPF measure. We recommend re-applying sunscreen at the minimum every two hours, and more frequently if you're swimming and sweating a lot. Sunscreen be wiped away with a towel so make sure to stay on top of reapplying.
4. SPF (Sun Protection Factor)
The SPF number specifies the level of protection that it provides against UVB rays. The higher the SPF number doesn't mean more protection. SPF 15 sunscreens filter out about 93% of UVB rays, while SPF 30 sunscreens filter out about 97%, SPF 50 sunscreens about 98%, and SPF 100 about 99%. No sunscreen filters out 100% of UVB light unfortunately but they come pretty close. Any sunscreen containing less than SPF 15 will come with a warning that only protects against sun burn but not signs of aging or cancer.
As of yet, a standard hasn't been established for for just how sand-repellent certain sunscreens are but it essentially means that the SPF isn't altered by different sands (fine, medium, etc). This usually indicates a smoother and silkier consistency for the sunscreen, as sand is less likely to stick to it.
6. For Sensitive Skin
Make sure to review the back of the label when examining sunscreen brands for sensitive skin. We suggest opting for physical sunscreens as opposed to chemical or spray-on ones because they're less likely to irritate skin. Also look for products that are without 'fragrance', another common skin irritant. Looking for ingredients such as shea butter, olive or fruit oils, and green tea extracts.
Either term should mean that a sunscreen doesn’t contain any of these five ingredients: oxybenzone, octinoxate, octocrylene, 4-methylbenzylidene, and butyl-paraben. Small studies suggest that these ingredients can affect coral’s ability to reproduce by harming or killing coral larvae and even reduce its life span and immunity. These are unregulated terms, so double-check the label for any of the above ingredients.
If you have questions about your sunscreen or any terminology you've identified on a sunscreen label, feel free to reach out to us! We love to hear from our fellow sun and skin lovers.