Summer is the time to adventure outdoors, enjoy the pool and beach, and soak up the sun.
At the same time, it's essential to protect your skin from the sun while you’re outside as it takes only five bad sunburns to increase your odds of developing skin cancer by 80 percent, according to WebMD.
Some people don't like sunscreens that are streaky or scented. Some prefer an oily feel, while others want fast-absorbing or water-resistant sunscreen. With so many different kinds of sunscreen available, invest in one you like so you’ll be sure to use it.
Regardless of preference, there are also a few things you shouldn’t compromise on when choosing your sunscreen:
Use a high SPF
Sun protection factor refers to a sunscreen's ability to protect you from UVB rays. Using SPF 50 sunscreen, for example, will protect you against 98 percent of the sun's dangerous rays. Because you can get a sunburn in under 10 minutes — even through clothing — don't skimp on the SPF. Additionally, wear sunscreen that protects against UVB and UVA rays because both can lead to skin damage, wrinkles and cancer.
Avoid dangerous chemicals
While applying sunscreen is an essential safety measure, not all sunscreen is safe for your skin. Sunscreens can be loaded with chemicals that damage your skin. Read the labels, choose a mineral-based sunscreen if you are worried about your skin's reaction. Test your sunscreen first to make sure it doesn’t cause a rash. If you want a natural sunscreen, consider using coconut oil, sesame oil, carrot seed oil or wheat germ oil, although be aware they are not as powerful as regular sunscreen.
Prepare in advance
To ensure your sunscreen is most effective, put it on at least 30 minutes before going outside. If possible, avoid the strongest sun rays, between about 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Sometimes these hours are hard to avoid, so double your coverage by using sunscreen and SPF clothing and swimsuits.
All sunscreen will eventually wear off due to water exposure, sweat or time. If you will be in water or sweating, choose a water-resistant sunscreen. While water-resistant sunscreens last longer in water, you will still need to reapply sunscreen every 40-80 minutes.
The styles of sunscreen
Even the best sunscreen is 100% useless if you don’t use it, so choose the type that you'll actually put on, whether that be a simple spray, a lotion or an option in between:
- Cream sunscreen helps with dry skin and is often thicker and provides better coverage for delicate skin.
- Lotion spreads easily on large areas of your body and torso. It allows you to see how much you’ve applied while being thinner and less greasy than cream.
- Gel sunscreen works in hairy areas, such as the scalp, armpits or chest.
- Stick sunscreen makes for easy application near the eyes, scalp, ears and nose.
- Spray sunscreens are quick and easy to apply. Because you can't tell if you've missed a spot, you could use it as a backup or second coat.
Different brands offer tons of options depending on your preferences and needs. Some are mineral-based and cruelty free, others are gluten and paraben-free and still others are intended especially for faces or high-activity situations.
Finding one you like is worth it – you’ll be more likely to use it and more diligent about keeping your skin safe. Check popular consumer websites for more information to find your favorite sunscreen.
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