Did you know that when the UV index is high, unprotected fair skin can burn in 10 minutes or less? So, it’s important to cover up whenever possible and pick a broad-spectrum sunscreen with sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30. Broad spectrum means protection from both UVA and UVB rays, which is critical to prevent sunburn and reduce sun damage.
The New York Times and Consumer Reports did an extensive review of sunscreens on the market. The NYT had four testers with different skin types and complexions test seven sunscreens over several weeks. Consumer Reports tested 48 different lotions and sprays. While less convenient, sunscreen lotion typically provides a more even coverage. And, spray sunscreens can easily be lost to the air. There is also a risk of inhaling a spray sunscreen during application, which can cause lung irritation. Mineral sunscreens work by deflecting UV rays, while chemical sunscreens absorb UV rays. While chemical sunscreens may be less likely to wash off, they are depleted as they absorb the rays and especially important to reapply frequently. Mineral sunscreens can be gentler on the skin.
While controversial, concerns have been raised regarding the safety of some components of chemical-based sunscreens and their environmental impact. There is agreement amongst most experts that more studies are needed to determine if these chemical components have adverse effects. Use one teaspoon for each uncovered area of your body such as the face, back or neck or neck. If you are wearing a swimsuit, this adds up to roughly a shot glass worth for enough protection.
Sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours, especially if you are sweating or swimming. Cover up with clothing, a hat, and sunglasses when out in the sun. And, if possible, seek shade or stay indoors between 10am and 4pm, when the sun’s rays are the strongest!