I can’t believe summer is starting to wind down; where does the time go?! If you’re like me, you spend a lot of time outside when the days are warm and the sun doesn’t set until later.
This brings me to the topic I’m covering today: sunscreen.
No matter the weather or season, the sun’s rays are shining down on us every day. Though we all need our regular dose of vitamin D and can’t help but love the warmth, it’s unwise to soak up any of the sun’s rays unprotected. It’s not just my mommy instincts making me tell you this stuff – it really is important!
Premature skin aging, skin cancer, and sunburns are all the result of too much sun. While wrinkles, fine lines, and age spots may not show up during our younger years, you’ll definitely see the effects of too much unprotected sun exposure as you get older.
Do the smart thing now and slather on an all-natural or organic sunscreen of your choice before heading outdoors. You won’t regret it!
Now let’s explore what you should be looking for in a natural or organic sunscreen!
“Do the smart thing now and
slather on an all-natural or
organic sunscreen of your choice
before heading outdoors.”
SPF Ratings and What They Mean
We all know that sunscreens come with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF), but what is it, exactly?
SPF is a number that indicates how well a sunscreen shields unprotected skin from damage caused by a particular type of UV radiation: those that cause skin cancer and sunburn (AKA UVB rays).
Here’s a quick “cheat sheet” to help you better understand the power of SPF.
- SPF 15 blocks 93% of UVB rays
- SPF 30 blocks 97% of UVB rays
- SPF 50 blocks 98% of UVB rays
- SPF 100 blocks 99% of UVB rays
In addition to the UVB rays I mentioned above, we also need protection from UVA rays. UVA rays penetrate deeply into the skin and cause premature wrinkling, age spots, and can increase your risk of certain skin cancers.
This is where broad-spectrum comes into play. Sunscreens labeled as having broad-spectrum protection shield skin from both UVB and UVA rays. The FDA says that a broad-spectrum UVA protection level should equal the UVB protection level (which is the SPF rating).
As I mentioned, even though we need sunscreen year-round, summertime is when most people think of applying it with more regularity because of the hot sun, swimming, and sweating. I know I like to hit the beach as much as I can!
This is why a water-resistant sunscreen is vital. While the FDA bans the use of “waterproof” or “sweatproof” on product labels, they do have a ratings test. You should choose a natural or organic sunscreen that claims one of the following:
- Water resistant for 40 minutes
- Water resistant for 80 minutes
Don’t forget that toweling off also removes sunscreen. So, regardless of the water resistance rating and time you think you should have left, you need to reapply sunscreen immediately after you towel down, too!
When shopping for the best natural sunscreens, it’s also a good idea to check out the active ingredients. In sunscreen products, active ingredients fall into two categories:
- Physical sunscreens are like wearing a suit of armor that helps protect any exposed skin. It sits on top of your skin and deflects sunlight so that the UV rays cannot damage your skin.
These sunscreens are effective immediately upon application, and are more calming to the skin than chemical sunscreen ingredients. Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are the two physical sunscreens used in today’s products.
- Chemical sunscreens work a little bit differently than physical ones. Upon application, they soak down into the skin where they are designed to absorbed incoming UV radiation before it can harm your skin.
It takes about 15-20 minutes for most chemical sunscreens to soak in, and they are not effective until after this time has passed. Ingredients are usually a combination of: avobenzone, homosalate, octisalate, octocrylene, and oxybenzone.
I personally prefer sunscreens that contain zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. These types of sunscreens help reflect harmful UV rays. They are incredibly safe and effective, and don’t contain unnatural chemical ingredients. They reflect both UVA and UVB rays, and are often of a thicker consistency than most typical sunscreens.
Sun Exposure Time
Have you ever gotten a sunburn after applying sunscreen and asked yourself, “When did that happen?” I’ve included a handy-dandy equation below to help you figure out how long you can stay in the sun with the SPF of your choice.
Minutes you burn without sunscreen x SPF number = Maximum sun exposure time
I’ll do an example: If you burn after 5 minutes of sun exposure, an SPF of 15 will allow you to be in the sun for up to 75 minutes without burning.
Please remember that this equation isn’t always accurate! People usually use half the amount of sunscreen that is used in lab testing, which means your sunburn could happen in half the amount of time.
Natural vs. Organic: What’s the Difference?
It’s important to remember that natural and organic are not synonymous or interchangeable terms. It’s possible for a product to be natural without being organic, and it’s possible for the natural ingredients in a product to be organic without the entire product being considered natural.
Natural simply means that the ingredients were sourced from nature rather than created synthetically. Organic ingredients must pass specific standards of purity regulated by the USDA.
Keep these things in mind when reading those labels, and you’ll be on your way to choosing the best natural or organic sunscreen to meet your needs!
About the Author
Alana Mitchell is the day spa owner at Skincare by Alana, beauty/skincare expert and licensed esthetician. Skincare by Alana is a popular online skincare shop for famous brands like Rhonda Allison, Eminence Skin Care, TRIA Age-defying Laser and many more. She doesn’t believe in beauty products that are not tried and researched, rather she is excited about natural organic day spa treatments that work. You can read more articles from her on her skin care blog.
What are your favorite natural or organic sunscreens?
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