Sunscreen: What to Buy and Why

Sunscreen is a necessary part of everyone’s summer. Before you buy, read these tips about how to stay protected from the sun this summer.

Summer is finally here and you know what that means: long days by the pool, hiking through one of SweetBay’s many trails, and sunscreen. Lots and lots of sunscreen.

Nobody likes being sunburnt. The bright red, irritated skin is a major inconvenience, but the dangers of the sun are much worse than just that. There are a lot of myths and misunderstandings when it comes to sunscreen, so today we’re going to go through everything you need to know before you go out in the sun.

Before we get started on sunscreen, we need to talk about what makes sunlight so dangerous. Sunlight consists of two harmful rays: UVA and UVB. UVA rays are responsible for premature aging of the skin, while UVB rays are responsible for the physical burning of your skin. UV rays from any source, including tanning beds, are proven carcinogens. While tanning can be fun or relaxing, the FDA strongly advises against it.

Everyone’s skin is different but there are a few guidelines that everyone should follow when buying and applying sunscreen. It is recommended that everyone should use a sunscreen with broad-spectrum protection, water resistance, and an SPF of 30 or higher. An SPF of 30 blocks 97% of the sun’s rays while broad-spectrum protection shields from both types of UV rays.

Spray sunscreen’s safety and effectiveness are still being evaluated and it can be difficult to tell if you have used enough or missed any part of your body. As a general rule for spray, be sure to apply a generous amount and avoid inhalation.

If you have dry or sensitive skin, you should probably avoid spray and stick to traditional sunscreens. There are a variety of specialty sunscreens made for babies or for skin conditions, so if you have a special circumstance, do some research before buying.

Applying sunscreen can feel tedious but it is important for people of all skin types. Start by applying sunscreen on all exposed skin. You should need about 1 ounce, which is enough to fill a shot glass. Your neck, ears, and the tops of your feet are all areas that are commonly missed so be extra careful not to forget about those. Make sure to rub it in and wait for about 15 minutes before going outside or getting in the water.

All sunscreens must be reapplied about every two hours or after swimming. Higher-number SPFs block slightly more of the sun’s rays, but do NOT last any longer than regular sunscreen.

If you follow these steps and any additional instructions on the bottle, you can avoid a summer of aloe vera and peeling backs. Grab a bottle of sunscreen, a few towels, and join the rest of the SweetBay community by the pool!