Summer is here and it's time for lots of fun in the sun! It's important to remember to take care of your skin and sunscreen plays an important role in that.  As much as we all love going to the beach and spending time outdoors, the exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays is very damaging for your skin, not only causing it to look dull and start premature aging, but possibly even causing skin cancer.

It's important to be selective about which sunscreen you use, because many sunscreens have harmful chemicals in them. According to the Environmental Working Group, the active ingredients in sunscreen come in two forms, mineral and chemical.  The most common sunscreens on the market contain chemical filters such as oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and octinoxate.  Many of these chemicals can cause allergic skin reactions, hormone disruption, and have toxic breakdown products.  Mineral sunscreens use zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide which show no evidence of hormone disruption or skin allergy. Some products combine both chemical and mineral sunscreens.

Among different brands, multiple SPFs, and face vs. body, there are so many types of sunscreen to choose from that it can feel overwhelming.  You want to use a high-quality, protective and chemical-free sunscreen.  So what should you do? Here are 4 things to consider when purchasing your next sunscreen:

  • Is it mineral-based? The most important ingredient in yoru sunscreen should be zinc oxide.  So what is it? Zinc oxide is the metal zinc that has been oxidized. It actually sits on the surface of the skin and provides physical protection from damaging rays, rather than soaking into your pores and being absorbed into the bloodstream. Chemical sunscreens, on the other hand, soak into your skin and quickly find their way into your bloodstream without being detoxified by the liver. Plus, zinc oxide blocks nearly all dangerous UV light and protects your skin from unnecessary skin damage.
  • Does it moisturize and protect? While some sunscreens feel great, give you a little shimmer or smell great, it may not do what it's supposed to do. If your sunscreen is only working as a moisturizer and not a protector, it's time to consider switching.
  • Does it protect against both types of harmful rays: UVA and UVB? As you search for a sunscreen that's right for you, be sure to find a brand that protects against both UVA and UVB rays, as both types of ultraviolet rays can be potentially harmful. UVA and UVB penetrate the atmosphere and play an important role in conditions such as premature aging, eye damage, and even worse, skin cancer. They can also suppress the immune system, reducing your ability to fight off illness and disease.
  • Is it free of fragrance, oil, parabens and non-comedogenic? A sunscreen that is free of fragrance, oil, parabens, and is non-comedogenic (won't clog pores) is perfect for any skin type, but most importantly sensitive skin or skin that is prone to acne breakouts or irritation. Additionaly, it lessens the load of toxins you're introducing to your body as you soak up the sun.

Our favorites are Elta MD sunscreens because they are broad-spectrum (protecting from both UVA and UVB rays), fragrance-free, paraben-free, sensitivity-free, and non-comedogenic. Elta MD is on of the leading sun care companies and has been protecting skin from the sun for over 25 years. They offer a broad range of sunscreens to fit your every need.

Besides applying sunscreen, you can also protect your skin by wearing a hat. Be sure to stay hydrated and drink plenty of water. Increase healthy fats in your diet, such as fish oil, olive oil and coconut oil to help hydrate your skin, as well. Don't skimp on sleep - sleep is important for good skin health. Wash your face and apply moisturizer every morning and night.

Remember, whether it's spring, summer, winter or fall, sunscreen is always crucial for your skin health.  It is never too late to start applying sunscreen and protecting your face and body from the sun.