We always hear about how important it is to put on sunscreen. Entire rows of the grocery store are stocked with all kinds of different bottles claiming to have the most protection. However, there’s also been a lot of controversy about sunscreens and whether they’re good for you or even doing what they’re supposed to.
The first thing people are worried about is if they’re putting something toxic on their skin. Ingredients like zinc, oxybenzone, and other minerals have scary-sounding names, but studies have all been showing we don’t really need to worry. The worst potential ingredient is oxybenzone, but researchers are saying that applying it topically and in the small amounts from sunscreen isn’t likely to cause damage. Being in the sun without sunscreen has far worse results than whatever sunscreen might do.
Okay, so sunscreen itself is probably a good choice, but which is best? Let’s talk about SPF means first. SPF (sun protection factor) measures how well the sunscreen protects against UVB radiation, which causes sunburn. The number is created by comparing the time it takes to burn without sunscreen versus how long it takes with sunscreen. If it takes 20 minutes to burn, a sunscreen with SPF 15 protects 15x longer. SPF used to hit a max of 30, but now, you can buy sunscreens with SPF of 100. Do those actually work that much better?
Apparently not, according to dermatologists. While an SPF of 50 will protect more than 30, once you start getting into the high 90’s and 100, there’s not much of a difference in protection. No sunscreen can block 100% of the sun’s rays, and having such a high number often misleads users into thinking they can hang out in the sun all day and be fine.
The most important thing to remember with sunscreen, more so than SPF, is to apply it at least every two hours. If you’re swimming or sweating a lot, you need to use it even more often. You also need to apply as much as directed. A lot of people will buy a really high SPF and then be really timid about how much they use, thinking it balances out, but it doesn’t. If you’re going to be in the sun, go with a standard SPF sunscreen and slather it on generously. Always remember to stay hydrated, too.