Summer = fun in the sun. And while tis the season of outdoor diversion, terror lurks in the form of skin cancer. With over 2 million people diagnosed annually, sun protection is imperative. But, what many don't know is that not all sunscreens are created equally.
A product with broad spectrum protection and without harmful chemicals is essential. WHY? In contrast to many common sunscreens that only protect from UVB waves, "broad spectrum" blocks dangerous UVA waves as well. The other component to safe and effective sun protection is scrutinizing the ingredients and avoiding preservatives like parabens and phthalates which can be absorbed through the skin to accumulate into the bloodstream.
Of course there are many incredible designer sunscreens, but you don't need to spend the big bucks for an effective product. Brands like Nature's Gate, Alba Bontanica and Kiss My Face are inexpensive and just as effective as designer brands.
CONFUSED? Don't be. Here's your crash course in sunscreenology and my best bets.
A SUNSCREEN GLOSSARY
SPF: Sun Protection Factor, rating applied to only UVB rays. The higher the SPF does not mean you can stay out in the sun that much longer. For example, SPF 15 means it blocks all but 1/15 of UVB meaning you are about 93% covered for those rays. The difference between SPF 30 and SPF 60 is just an extra 2% of coverage.
UVA: Makes up 95% of UV radiation reaching the Earth's surface, less intense than UVB but penetrates deeper in the skin to the dermis.
UVB: UV radiation that hits the top layer of skin, epidermis, responsible for sunburn and any skin reddening. The most significant amount of UVB hits the U.S. between 10 AM and 4 PM from April to October.
Broad spectrum: Look for sunscreen boasting broad spectrum,-multi spectrum or UVA/UVB protection to ensure defense against both types of UV radiation.
Parabens: A synthetic preservative that can be found in shampoos, moisturizers, shaving gels, cleansing gels, topical pharmaceuticals and toothpaste. According the Environmental Working Group (EWG), parabens can disrupt the hormone system, and were found in the breast cancer tumors of 19 of 20 women studied.
Phthalates: A chemical compound called "plasticizers" making PVC and found in nail polish, shampoos, detergents, hair spray, toys, food packaging and much more. Like parabens, phthalates hinder the endocrine system.
SUNSCREEN FOR ADULTS: all of the following products have broad spectrum coverage and are free of parabens, phthalates, fragrance, nano-technology and chemicals
SKINCEUITICALS PHYSICAL FUSION: $30, SPF 50, universal tint that evens skin tone, high UVA protection, protects against collagen damage, water and sweat resistant, does not clog pores, features plankton extract, J.Lo is a fan!
BELLI ANTI-CHLOASMA FACIAL SUNSCREEN: $24, SPF 25, Pregnancy-friendly ingredients, lightly tinted to blend with all skin types, oil free, may be worn alone or under makeup
KATE SOMERVILLE SERUM SUNSCREEN: $45, SPF 55, oil/alcohol free, can be used daily for oily or problematic skin, does not leave skin feeling chalky, sticky or greasy, celeb clients include Christina Aguilera, Katy Perry and Selma Blair
ALBA BOTANICA NATURAL SUNBLOCK: $9.95, SPF 30+, certified organic sunflower seed and jojoba seed oils, aloe vera and calendula moisturize and nourish skin, 100% vegetarian ingredients, grape seed oil and vitamin E provide antioxidant protection
NATURE'S GATE MINERAL SPORT BLOCK: $9.99, SPF 20, Seaweed extract revitalizes, milk thistle extract soothes and Mimosa bark extract repairs and protects.
KISS MY FACE, FACE FACTOR: $12.95, SPF 30, water resistant, helps reduce wrinkles with UVA/UVB protection, great for sensitive skin
SUNSCREEN FOR KIDS: products below are water resitant
EPISENCIAL SUNNY SUNSCREEN: $14.99, SPF 35, Free of Petroleum/hormones/gluten/nut oils, manufactures with solar power, organic sesame, safflower and avocado oils to moisturize and nourish the skin
DR.ROBIN: $24, SPF 30, quinoa and oat protection for soothing hydration and green tea extract to help prevent free radical damage, Used by Celeb Moms--Debra Messing and Jennifer Garner
KISS MY FACE NATURAL MINERAL SUNBLOCK LOTION: $14.99, SPF 30+, retains SPF after 30 minutes of activity in water, Gluten free, Natural ingridients include aloe, sunflower oil, green tea, shea butter, carrots, mushrooms and olive oil