by - June 21, 2017

I've talked a LOT about sunscreen here on the blog, but I also talk about it a lot in my real life. When friends of mine are spending days at the beach without applying sunscreen, I'm the person who's really stressing the importance of protecting their skin. It may be annoying to them and it could even seem like I'm being preachy or like a know-it-all, but the fact of the matter if that it's an act of caring. Sun protection is important on a very real level, so I wanted to really sit down and talk about it in depth here on the blog. I've done a lot of research on the subject from respected sources and I don't seek to spread misinformation or marketing talking points on the subject. Throughout this post I will photos and links to some sun care products that I've personally used and enjoyed, so if you're in the market these would be some that you could keep an eye out for!

Keep reading for more.

MyChelle Sun Protection Products *

Mineral Sunscreen vs. Chemical Sunscreen
Mineral and chemical sunscreens are both effective when used correctly, but they both work in different ways. Mineral sunscreens, often utilizing zinc oxide or titanium dioxide for sun protection, work to literally block the sun by deflecting the suns rays so that they aren't absorbed into your skin. Alternatively, chemical sunscreens, containing ingredients like avobenzone, absorb the UV rays, convert them into heat and release them from the skin.

So which is better? 

Honestly, I think it's about your skin and about your preferences. For me, the only sunscreen I'm ever going to put on my face is going to be a lightweight, liquidy mineral sunscreen because I find that they're far less likely to break me out, as chemical sunscreen can be more irritating and the skin on my face can be sensitive. When it comes to SPF on my body, however, I'm a lot less picky and I just want something that's going to be easy to apply and blend into the skin, isn't going to cast too white, and is going to be effective. One thing that I should note, however, is that if you're going to be choosing a chemical sunscreen it's important to apply it 15 minutes before you go out into the sun. Where mineral sunscreen, because it causes a literal barrier from the sun, doesn't necessarily need to be applied with any advance. Anyway, the way I see it, this is going to be a question that's going to need to be answered for you personally. 

Alba Botanica Sun Protection Lotion & Spray *

Choosing an SPF
The SPF rating of your sunscreen is important - but maybe not as important as you think. Everything that I've read suggests that you should choose at least an SPF30 sunscreen for reliable protection and that a higher SPF isn't necessarily going to offer you as much more protection as the number suggests. Also, all sunscreens need to be reapplied, whether they are physical or chemical, because the protection will decrease with time. With a higher SPF, you will get a little bit of extra time, but it will also need to be reapplied. For me, if I'm going to the beach, I skip makeup and stick to just sunscreen on my face so that I don't have to worry about ruining my makeup with reapplication. If you're at the beach or otherwise spending a day in the sun, it is recommended that you reapply your sunscreen every two hours. Also, because you need to apply a thick layer of sunscreen to get the most out of your SPF, I personally wouldn't recommend relying entirely on makeup or skincare that includes an SPF for sun protection outside of days when you're not spending much time in the sun. SPF in foundation or BB cream is nice, but it's not going to be enough to provide full sun protection on a long day in the sun.

VICHY Idéal Soleil SPF 60 Sport *

Myths About Sunscreen
One thing that drives me CRAZY is the insistence of some people that sunscreen is more dangerous than the sun itself. This is a statement that is not backed up by evidence and one that I would caution people against believing. If you're concerned about the ingredients in your sunscreen, I fully encourage you to do research from reliable, credible sources that focus on scientific evidence and choose a sunscreen that fits your preferences. I also recommend looking for information about studies specific to the ingredients when used in topical sunscreen, rather than just the ingredient itself. But regardless of what sunscreen you choose, do choose a sunscreen. The sun is more dangerous than sunscreen.

Cyberderm The Sunscreen Company Sun Whip *

Another set of myths that drive me crazy are those relating to alternatives to sunscreen. The ones I see most commonly are vitamin c and, absolutely horrifyingly, coconut oil. Do NOT rely on either of these ingredients for your sun protection. Vitamin C actually does make a great daytime skin care ingredient because when used with sunscreen, it can help increase your sun protection, but it is not going to do the job on its own. And coconut oil? Just. Don't. Coconut oil does not offer adequate protection from the sun and adding carrot seed oil or raspberry seed oil to coconut oil will not make it adequate protection from the sun. If you're that concerned about chemicals in your sunscreen I would recommend looking for basic mineral formulas that have been adequately tested for SPF and efficacy rather than using a DIY recipe. Formula is important for getting the best protection that you can. 

Skinceuticals Physical Fusion Broad Spectrum Sunscreen Fluid SPF 50

Sunscreen & Active Skin Care
One of the reason that I started using a high SPF sunscreen on my face every single day is because I use actives such as retinoids and hydroxy acids in my skin care. These ingredients leave your skin more vulnerable to sun damage by speeding up cell turnover and it's important to be aware of protecting your skin as best you can when using these ingredients. I also protect my face by wearing a hat when I'm going to be spending any significant amount of time in the sun, wearing sunglasses with UV protection, and trying to stay in the shade when possible. Until last year, I struggled to find a facial sunscreen that didn't break me out, but now that I found the Skinceuticals Physical Fusion Broad Spectrum Sunscreen Fluid SPF 50, I've got my holy grail and I never have to worry about my sun protection breaking me out. One tip that I do have, though, is that when using an SPF, the most effective way to remove it is with an oil. I like to use a cleansing oil on my face and a shower oil on my body to really cut through the product and get it off.

If you're in the market for an everyday SPF, I would highly recommend checking out these Youtube videos by Caroline Hirons and Nadine Baggot, which I think really offer some great options and information. 

AVON Sun+ Broad Spectrum SPF 40 *

Sun Protection Rules Of Thumb
1. Try to avoid sun exposure between 10am and 2pm, because this is when the sun is strongest.
2. Wear a hat with a brim that shades the face when spending time in the sun.
3. Seek shade if possible. 
4. Wear sun protective clothing - especially important for little ones, particularly infants. Babies under 6 months shouldn't wear sunscreen and should be protected from the sun as much as possible. Look for wetsuit style bathing suits for infants and children and good hats that shield their faces.
5. Don't forget areas like your ears, hands, and scalp because they burn as well. For scalp, I find that using a mist sunscreen can work, but I tend to stick to a hat instead because, honestly, I don't like to washing sunscreen out of my hair is just not something I want to have to deal with.
6. Just wear sunscreen, seriously. Whether you're using a basic mineral formula or something more high tech, it's vitally important to protect ourselves from harmful UV rays.

Live Clean SPF 45 Mineral Sunscreen Lotions + After Sun 98% Aloe Vera Gel *

I'm an evidence based person and so I've done a lot of research when it comes to sun protection. As more and more information has become available on the subject, I think the bottom line is really clear. The sun is something that we should treat with caution, as we should most incredibly powerful things, and one of the best ways to exercise that caution is to use solid sun protection consistently.

While I hope that everything I've written here will be helpful, I highly recommend doing your own research on the subject. Look for credible sources that cite peer reviewed studies. There's a lot of B.S. on the internet - hence the myths - and I've had to wade through a lot of it in the past few years while I've been learning all I can about skin care and sun protection, so I think it's important to question and then question some more.

And then get ye some sunscreen, friends!

Happy summer!

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