How To Choose the Healthiest Sunscreen This Summer
If you’re anything like me, the warm summer weather means you’re spending more time outdoors with friends and family. Whether you’re in the water, picnicking at the park, or simply sipping iced tea on your patio, it’s important to consider your sun exposure and how to best protect your skin.
But unfortunately, it’s not quite as simple as picking up a bottle of sunscreen at the drugstore and lathering it on before you head outside. There are a few different things to consider when picking a brand of sunscreen like the ingredients, the effectiveness, and how it impacts the Earth (that’s a lot more than just the SPF, right?).
It can seem a little overwhelming when you consider how many elements there are to selecting the right sunscreen for you….but don’t worry. I’m here to help!
The Right Amount of Sun
Of course, a little sun isn’t a bad thing. In fact, our bodies need some sunshine to keep our Vitamin D levels up. Research from the World Health Organization shows that about 5 -15 minutes of unprotected sun exposure a few times a week is actually really beneficial for boosting levels of serotonin which keep us smiling. Time in the sun has also been shown to help prevent long-term diseases like diabetes and heart disease.
However, outside of those 5-15 minutes a few times a week, we should be actively protecting our skin to avoid things like serious skin cancers and premature aging. And, did you know that not all sunscreens are designed to protect against both UVA and UVB rays? That means, if you don’t do your research, you could be preventing burns, but your skin is still being harmed.
UVA vs. UVB – what’s the difference?
Okay, so you know that you want to consider both UVA and UVB rays. But what really is the difference between them?
UVA rays are what cause skin damage like wrinkles, sun spots, and changes in skin texture. Meanwhile, UVB rays are what causes your skin to burn. Both types of rays contribute to the development of skin cancer in different ways, so you should select a sunscreen that helps protect your skin from both types of light. Look for Broad Spectrum Protection on the bottle to make sure your skin is fully protected.
Selecting Your Sunscreen
But, Broad Spectrum Protection and SPF still aren’t the only things to consider when selecting your sunscreen (I told you this could be tricky!). Luckily, each year the Environmental Working Group or EWG puts out a guide on the best (and worst!) sunscreen optionsfor you and your family. The EWG considers a wide variety of metrics in their scoring system including the ingredients of the sunscreen, the impact on the Earth, and the overall effectiveness of the product.
See some of the top-scoring sunscreens for kids, beach days, sports activities and daily wear below.
Best Sunscreens for Kids
Before your little ones head outside, lather the kids up in one of these EWG recommended brands. Remember to always follow the directions on the package, and to re-apply more frequently if they are in the water or sweating!
- Babo Botanicals Clear Zinc Sunscreen – $19.95
- Fragrance Free
- SPF 30
- 87% organic ingredients
- SPF 30
- 100% zinc oxide active ingredient
- SPF 50
Best Sunscreens for Beach Day & Full Sun
If you and your family are going to be out in the sun all day, these are the options for you. Remember to also consider the time of day you’re going to be outside and try to plan some indoor activities like lunch or a nap when the sun is at its peak.
Best Sunscreens for Sports
If you’re a summer athlete, you need something that is going to protect you from the sun for the entire game. These options are all made specifically to withstand sweating, but make sure one of your teammates is also helping you watch for redness.
- Juice Beauty Sport Sunscreen – $16.00
- Blends organic jojoba and aloe with antioxidants and vitamins
- SPF 30
- Goddess Garden Organics Sport Natural Sunscreen – $7.99
- Organic, Reef-safe and Biodegradable
- SPF 30
- Thinksport Sunscreen Stick – $8.99
- First Sunscreen to pass Whole Foods Premium Care Requirements
- SPF 30
Best Sunscreens for Daily Wear
Daily sunscreens are incredibly important for protecting your skin all year around. These options are light enough to be worn under makeup, and won’t cause your skin to break out or become irritated.
Don’t Rely on Sunscreen Alone
Of course, sunscreen shouldn’t be your only line of defense against the sun’s rays. Make sure you are covering up with hats, sunglasses, and clothing and try to seek shade whenever possible.
And please please please do not forget your facial sunscreen! If you are going to be outside for any length of time (yes that even includes trips in the car) it’s essential to protect your skin to help prevent aging and skin cancer.
Hi! I'm Angela
Acupuncturist, Herbalist, Integrative Wellness Consultant and Mood-Gut expert.
Now that you have your sunscreen picked out, it’s time to go out and have some fun in the sun. Tell me about your summer plans in the comments below!