I consider myself to be something of a lizard like creature when the summer sun first makes its debut. Being pale a good majority of the year, I like to really fill up on the Vitamin D that I’ve been missing out on. So much so that I was once doing my annually scheduled baking poolside, without any sunscreen (I like to live dangerously), and subjecting myself to all of the sun’s damaging powers. Next thing I know, my mom, the anti-wrinkle queen, is yelling at me to put on sunscreen in efforts to salvage my skin. Annoyed by her trying to stop me from becoming a bronzed goddess, I took the sunscreen in protest and put two stripes across both my cheeks. From there, I promptly fell asleep and woke up as crisp as a chicken tender with two white stripes across my face. For weeks my skin felt like a leather jacket and I walked around sporting two lovely football stripes on my cheeks.
Keep reading to get the low down on why we all need to be wearing sunscreen, along with some Zenzy favorites that smell like coconuts and not the usual youth soccer game.
The main purpose of sunscreen is to protect us from the sun’s damaging UV rays that cause sunburns, increase the risk of skin cancer and cause premature aging from its drying effects. Terrifying, I know. Sunburns happen from both UVA and UVB rays from the sun. UVA rays penetrate deeper into skin and can cause premature aging, whereas UVB rays are what burn the top layer of skin and give you that lovely red glow. Not all sunscreens are made equal though, so it’s important to know what you’re looking at when shopping for the perfect cream. Below, we’ve broken down four important aspects to keep in mind:
SPF: SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor – this is how much of the sun’s rays will be blocked. An SPF 15 blocks around 93% of UVB rays, SPF 45 blocks about 97% and SPF 100 blocks 99%. While the differences don’t seem to be that much in terms of percentages, look at the SPF numbers. 50 is half of 100, so by wearing an SPF 50, you’re exposing your skin to damage from the sun twice as fast. The SPF number also represents how your skin reacts to the sun with and without sunscreen. If you’re exposed to the sun for 10 minutes without any sunscreen and get a sunburn, then with an SPF 50 it would take about 500 minutes (or 8 hours) for your skin to burn. Bottom line is that the higher the SPF, the better the protection.
Broad Spectrum: This means both UVA and UVB rays will be blocked, so you avoid skin damage from the UVA rays, and burning from UVB rays.
Water Resistant: Sunscreen isn’t waterproof, so most labels you’ll see will say water resistant 40 or 80 minutes, meaning this is the amount of time you can swim or sweat until you have to reapply. Wearing a water resistant sunscreen is important even if you aren’t swimming, since you’ll likely end up sweating in the summer heat.
Ingredients: This is where sunscreen can get a bit tricky. A lot of brands use a chemical called oxybenzone that is toxic to both us and the environment. The safest sunscreen ingredients are mineral based, and contain either zinc oxide or titanium dioxide that actually block the harmful UV rays from the sun, rather than absorb them like oxybenzone. These are also the best ingredients for sensitive skin.
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