Which is the best sunscreen?
You do need to wear sunscreen if you’re spending time in the sun. So, which is the best sunscreen?
I’ve done tons of research into finding the best sunscreen. Here are my recommendations:
Best Sunscreen for Total Protection
Do NOT buy this product if you want an overall sunscreen. This product is designed for using on small areas – your nose perhaps, or tips of ears. It does not rub in, it stays on the surface of your skin and looks white-ish. (I’ve seen a lot of people in sports use it or similar products).
If you want excellent sun protection in certain areas and don’t mind the white look, then this product is for you. It contains titanium dioxide 12% and zinc oxide 7% – these ingredients will reflect the sun’s rays away from your body. It has a minimum of harmful chemicals (and a good rating at EWG), so it’s not too harmful to your health. Aubrey Organics is an eco friendly company (see my review here) and cruelty free. The sunscreen is bio-degradable (important for when you wash it off), and the container can be recycled. The packaging is recycled and can be recycled after use. I would prefer less packaging to be more green, but it’s an eco friendly product.
The Best Sunscreen for Kids and for Sensitive Skin
If you have sensitive skin, or you need a good sunscreen for children, I recommend this:
This gives excellent sun protection (active ingredients: Titanium Dioxide <6%, Zinc Oxide 12%), and is easier to rub in than the sport stick, but, as is normal with products containing titanium and zinc, it’s not completely easy to rub in. You may be left with white streaks, although some people have found it absorbed fine. The non-active ingredients are made mostly from botanical extracts, resulting in low toxicity. Again, Aubrey Organics are an eco friendly company and cruelty free.
Best Sunscreen - non-mineral
If you prefer not to have metallic elements in your sunscreen, or if you want a product which you can rub in to your skin, then I recommend:
Its sun protection is good, but it does contain toxic chemicals (methylparaben and phenoxyethanol amongst others), but considerably less than most other sunscreen brands. It is very light and non-greasy. Because it’s water resistant, it’s great for use in the pool or the sea, and it provides moisture as well as protection for the skin.
Is sunscreen the answer to protecting yourself from sun damage?
Like most things in life, “everything in moderation”.
Use the best sunscreen, yes, but not as your only defence against the sun. Do these things first, then find the best sunscreen cream and slop it on.
Why? Because sunscreens – even “natural” sunscreens – can be harmful to our health. (Read why).
The Best Sunscreen
The very best sunscreen is a hat and a shirt. Yes, it’s true!
Wear Clothes – Shirts, hats, shorts and pants shield your skin from the sun’s UV rays. A long-sleeved surf shirt is a good start. A wide-brimmed hat is a great idea. Loose-fitting but densely-weaved garments are ideal.
Remember Sunglasses – they protect your eyes from UV radiation, a cause of cataracts.
Be Shady - picnic under a tree, read beneath an umbrella, take a canopy to the beach. Keep infants in the shade – they lack tanning pigments (melanin) to protect their skin.
Don’t be a Mad Dog! – According to Noel Coward, only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun. UV radiation peaks at midday, when the sun is directly overhead. Sun-tan in the early morning or late afternoon.
Start Gradually - there is some evidence to suggest that if you live in a winter climate which gets little sun, a gradual re-introduction to sunlight and warmth is beneficial – a few minutes or so a day without sunscreen may benefit you when it is time for a summer holiday with lots of sun.
Use these tips as your first defence. Then, consider sunscreen for when you will spend a longer time in the sun.
These 10 tips will help you to choose the best one for you:
Tips for Choosing the Best Sunscreen
- Avoid sunscreens which contain vitamin A (often listed in the ingredients as retinyl palmitate or retinol).
- Avoid sunscreen containing oxybenzone or 4-MBC (Methylbenzylidene camphor) – these are known hormone disruptors.
- Choose lotions instead of sprays or powders. Why? Sprays and powders put sunscreen in the air, meaning you can breathe it into you – not all ingredients are tested for ingestion.
- Ensure your chosen sunscreen protects you from UVA and UVB rays.
- Check your preferred brand on EWG’s searchable database of best brands. Your preferred brand should ideally have a green symbol next to it. (Note: if you live outside the US, you may not find your favourite brands listed here. Also, EWG do not take animal testing into account in their ratings).
- Apply sunscreen properly – most people apply too little, and don’t re-apply often enough. Always re-apply after you sweat, swim or towel.
- Consider avoiding sunscreens containing mineral oil (also known as adepsine oil, lignite oil, petrolatum, albolene, paraffin oil, white oil, drakeol, mineral seal oil, and baby oil) as it is a carcinogen (cancer-producing agent) according to the WHO (World Health Organization) in its industrial form, although it is approved for use in cosmetics in many countries.
- Don’t rely too much on manufacturers’ claims of SPFs – according to the FDA and EWG, many of these claims are misleading – partly because people trust them too much and spend too long in the sun. Also, higher SPF products have higher levels of active ingredients which are not all good for your health, and the ratings are often based on the premise that people use more sunscreen than they do in reality. EWG suggest using an SPF 30 instead of a 70, for example.
- Look for eco-friendly products – for example, those with recycled and recyclable packaging, and bio-degradable ingredients.
- If you feel yourself starting to burn, go indoors – you have stayed out too long already!
Photo Credit: Microsoft / Veer Images