Look for These Sunscreen Ingredients and Avoid Those
It seems like every summer just keeps getting hotter and hotter. The intensity of the sun is just unmatched, which is why you should be taking extra good care of your skin during these brutal months! Applying a daily layer of SPF with the best sunscreen ingredients might be one of the most important things you can do for your skin – and it will definitely be thanking you 20 years down the road.
- The SPF level in sunscreen helps you to determine how long the sunscreen will shield you against the sun’s harsh rays.
- Sunscreen can protect against aging, and dark spots, as well as prevent skin cancer.
- There are many safe ingredients you should look for while searching out sunscreen products.
The Science Behind Sunscreen
Sunscreen lets you leave a long day at the beach and not be tomato red. Every sunscreen contains something called SPF, which stands for "sun protection factor.” The SPF indicates how much protection you’re receiving from the sun’s ultraviolet B (UVB) rays that cause harsh sunburns.
So basically, the level of SPF you use helps you to determine how long the sunscreen will protect you against those rays. That’s why it is crucial to always reapply sunscreen throughout the day, especially when you’re outside for long periods of time.
For example, if you are using sunscreen with an SPF 30, then you are receiving 30 times the protection against the UVB rays than if you were bare skinned. A research associate at the University of Penn, Kimberly Mallet, states that no matter what SPF you are using, you should always reapply every 1-2 hours for optimal protection.
And for even more expert advice on the topic, the Skin Cancer Foundation says that it is also important to apply sunscreen at least thirty minutes before sun exposure in order to allow its ingredients to fully bind to the skin.
Benefits of sunscreen:
- Reduces signs of aging
- Limits the appearance of spots
- Protects skin from sunburn
- Reduces risk of skin cancer
- Avoids broken blood vessels
What ingredients should you be looking for in your sunscreen
But you shouldn't be applying just any sunscreen every day. There are many amazing products on the market, but there are also many products with high amounts of chemicals and skin inflammatories. This is why it is so important to read labels on not just sunscreens, but all topical products you apply to your skin.
1. Mexoryl SX
This UV filter is found predominantly in chemical sunscreens but provides great protection against harsh UVA1 rays that can cause long term skin damage. As a plus, it is approved by the FDA and coral safe. Coral safe means that the sunscreen does not contain any agents that may bleach the ocean’s coral reefs.
2. Titanium dioxide
Titanium dioxide is a mineral that helps to thicken and whiten sunscreens to provide extra protection to the skin. This is the best ingredient to look for if you have more red and acne prone skin. However, titanium dioxide isn’t as protective as some other sunscreen ingredients, so you should reapply sunscreen with this ingredient much more often.
3. Zinc oxide
This white and powdery substance comes from the mineral zincite. Dr. Ashley Magovern, a board-certified dermatologist and owner of Manhattan Dermatology in Manhattan, CA, states that Zinc Oxide is one of the best sunscreen ingredients we could have access to. It contains agents that block both UVA and UVB rays, which are responsible for causing burns, skin cancer, and skin damage.
If you love swimming or going on long runs in the summer then this ingredient is perfect for you since it is super water resistant, keeping your protection layer on longer.
4. Tinosorb S and M
One of the most ideal ingredients for sunscreen and skin protection, Tinosorb S and M is crucial since it helps to stabilize other ingredients and filters in the sunscreen and boosts its overall efficiency.
Sunscreen ingredients that are a hard NO
There have been many studies conducted that show how avobenzone leads to skin rashes and irritated skin. Avobenzone is found in a lot of chemical sunscreens and has been shown to degrade when exposed to sun (a process by which chemicals break down into smaller particles).
This chemical ingredient can actually have the reverse effects of what sunscreen is supposed to do, and accelerate aging instead of preventing it. Try to avoid sunscreens with this ingredient at all costs.
2. Sunscreens with insect repellents
Insect repellent is amazing when you want to go on a walk after dinner and avoid those itchy bug bites. However, bug spray shouldn’t be used often because of the high amount of repellent chemicals it contains.
In recent years, some companies have come out with a sunscreen that doubles as an insect repellent. This can be extremely dangerous since insect repellents aren’t meant to be reapplied and sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours. Using the repellent as sunscreen can cause it to absorb into the skin and cause irritation and long-term health issues.
3. Oxybenzone and Octinoxate
Everything you rub into your skin can also absorb into your skin and affect other parts of your body. Well, Oxybenzone and Octinoxate is a main ingredient found in many sunscreens that can be extremely dangerous to your body.
According to Jamie Alan, Ph.D., an assistant professor of pharmacology and toxicology at Michigan State University, both Oxybenzone and Octinoxate are a “potential hormone disruptor.” Alan reveals how these harsh ingredients can absorb into the skin and make their way into the endocrine system, potentially messing up biological functions like metabolism and reproduction.
So many people know so little about what they’re putting into their bodies, and honestly, how should they?! Companies are so sneaky nowadays about all the chemicals and harsh ingredients within their products. Sunscreen should be a skin protectant and be beneficial to your body…not harmful.
As you're purchasing your sunscreen for this season, make sure you’re reading the labels and picking more natural and less harsh ingredients to rub into your skin.
Written by Emma Carlson
- Photo by Keren Fedida on Unsplash