Great article about Sunscreen! Read the full sunscreen article here.
What Do The Letters and Numbers Mean On Sunscreen Bottles?
SPF only protects you from sunburn (UVB rays). When you see the SPF number on a bottle, think of it as a measure of time. The math is pretty simple. If your skin would typically burn after 10 minutes in the sun, a sunscreen with SPF 15 should allow you to stay in the sun 15 times longer (150 minutes) before your skin would start to burn. But that number doesn’t take your activities into account. Sweating, swimming and other physical exercise can lower the effectiveness of your sunscreen’s SPF, which means you may need to apply it more often.
UVA & UVB Protection
Your sunscreen may be protecting you from sunburn by blocking UVB rays (if you’re re-applying it often enough and using a sufficient amount), but you’re still vulnerable to skin damage if you’re not protected from UVA rays as well. Although the US has added UVA protection to many sunscreens, we’re still behind countries in Europe in terms of the level of protection. Don’t get me wrong — some UVA protection is better than none, but European sunscreens provide much stronger coverage. So unless you know a Parisian sunscreen smuggler, it’s a good idea to adjust your sun-loving habits (including what lotions to buy).
How To Select A Safer Sunscreen
When choosing any personal care product, be your own health advocate. There are chemicals in the products on your drugstore’s shelves that have been linked with cancer, birth defects and a variety of other health issues. Sunscreen is not exempt.
For starters, here are a few red flags to look out for when scanning sunscreen labels:
- Vitamin A (retinyl palmitate or “retinol”): Linked to increased cancer cell growth.
- Oxybenzone: Hormone disrupter—experts caution against using it on children.
- Powder or spray mineral-based sunscreens (usually on ingredient label as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide): These ingredients are typically safe in lotion form, but can cause internal damage if inhaled.
The EWG Guide to Sunscreens 2013 is chock full of research and product information. Check it out to get the scoop on more than 1,800 products including sunscreens, lip balms with SPF, moisturizers and makeup.
Access the guide here.
And here are some of EWG’s top-rated sun care products in the beach and sport sunscreens category, for adults and kids:
- Green Screen D Organic Sunscreen, Original, SPF 35
- Kiss My Face Natural Mineral Sunscreen with Hydresia, SPF 40
- Aubrey Organics Natural Sun Sunscreen, Green Tea, SPF 30+
- Aubrey Organics Natural Sun Sport Stick Sunscreen, SPF 30+
- Releve’ Organic Skincare by Emerald Essentials Sun-Lite Sunscreen, SPF 20
- Badger Baby Sunscreen Cream, SPF 30
- Seventh Generation Wee Generation Baby Sunscreen, SPF 30