My skin has only two colors during the summer; milk white or lobster red. The summer I was about to start college, I fell asleep on the beach while reading The Stranger. I didn’t have any sunscreen on (like a fool!). I didn’t realize how bad the burn was until I woke up the next day and the back of my legs had turned purple! I could barely walk; I was in a constant state of nausea, it felt like my skin was about to explode and I could barely climb out of bed.
I will spend the rest of my life campaigning for sunscreen use if it means I stop one person from having a burn that bad. You should know that a person’s risk for melanoma–the most serious form of skin cancer–doubles if he or she has had five or more sunburns!
First you should check on this infographic from EWG about sunscreens ASAP.
There are a lot of sunscreen myths and surprising truths. I encourage you to read this informative post by the Environmental Working Group. In the meantime I made a list of common sunscreen myths.
Myth: SPF 45 or higher doesn’t work better than SPF 30.
Reality: Well in fact, according to this Women’s Health magazine post, a higher number is better. They talked to Howard Sobel, M.D., of Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. He says: “You get 99 percent sunburn protection with SPF 90, versus 96 percent with SPF 30,” says. While the 3% increase seems insignificant, over a lifetime those percentage points will add up and save you from a lot of sun damage.
Myth: All sunscreens work the same way.
Reality: All sunscreens do NOT work the same. Some sunscreens are physical sunblocks that use zinc oxide or titanium dioxide to block UVA and UVB rays, while other sunscreens use chemicals such as avobenzone to do the job. But determining what offers the best protection is up for debate. Some dermatologists prefer sunscreens that use newer active ingredients like Helioplex and Meroxyl SX beause it offers both UVA and UVB protection.
Myth: A little sunscreen will get you through the day.
Reality: It’s a general rule to reapply every 2 hours. If you’re in a pool or on a beach, you should reapply more frequently because it could wash off. You should also apply sunscreen before you arrive at the beach so you aren’t burning when you arrive.
Myth: Last year’s bottle is okay to use this summer.
Reality: Well, in a perfect world you would be using enough sunscreen that you don’t have any left over from last year, but I know I am very guilty of not using enough. Basically, you should check the expiration date on your sunscreen bottle before you use it. Plus, some sunscreens break down quickly so you shouldn’t let it sit around the house for too long.
Best Sunscreens For Your Body, Lips and Face
I picked these three sunscreens as best because not only do they offer good protection from the sun, but the chemicals used in them are all low hazard.
This lip balm does tend to make your lips whiteish after you use it but that is expected and worth the protection from the sun, and the low toxicity levels in the formula. You can buy it on Amazon.
You can search for your own sunscreen on EWG’s website to see if it is safe, giving you the UVA/UVB protection you want, and if there are high toxicity levels in the formula.