Choosing The Best Sunscreen For Summer

June 1, 2012

It’s important to buy sunscreen from year to year since the active ingredients break down in that time. Many people are concerned about additional chemical exposure from sunscreen, so here’s how to pick the best sunscreen for you, based on consumer reports yearly review:

Avoid Sprays. Sprays make it possible to inhale sunscreen into your lungs. If there’s no other way you’ll use sunscreen, then do it—but avoid spraying your face (spray your hands to apply) and stand upwind of the spraying.

Check Ingredients. This is the hardest part of finding the best sunscreen, since there have been fewer options on the market in recent years in many locations (less variety in active ingredients and SPF). Avoid Oxybenzone, which may interfere with hormones. Also avoid retinyl palmitate (found in fancy, skin enhancing sunscreen lotions, usually) since it converts to retinoids, which are toxic in high doses, and should be avoided by pregnant women since they can cause birth defects.

Look for zinc and titanium as active ingredients (these won’t rub in as well, though). Note that there is some concern about zinc oxide and titanium oxide in their nanoscale form, since nano particles can absorb into the skin. The current concern is that they might have “reproductive or developmental effects”—a few years ago the concern was about potential negative cellular effects. In any case, there’s a lot of uncertainty.

The best suncreen will leave a thin white film; although it’s old-fashioned, it’s the safest possible ingredient mix. Even the best sunscreen needs to be applied every 2-3 hours, depending on where you are (latitude and altitude dramatically affects how much sun you get, pollution can also enhance how fast your burn). And try and find one that’s waterproof, even if you’re not headed to the pool to avoid sweating it off.

If you forget and get a sunburn anyway, remember aloe vera gel, and if your health conditions permit take an aspirin right away.

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