Can you believe how quickly this year is flying by? Summer is fast approaching, and with the sand and the sea and sun, there’s a very important ingredient essential to the summer mix, and that’s a good, strong sunscreen.
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Most cases are melanoma—a deadly form of skin cancer that is caused by exposure to harmful ultraviolet (UV) light. (1)
Even though awareness is high, the number of people diagnosed with skin cancer each year continues to rise. According to the skin cancer foundation, one in five Americans will develop skin cancer by the age of 70. (2)
Sunburn is a sign that the DNA in your skin cells have been damaged. Just one sunburn every two years can triple your risk of developing melanoma skin cancer. (3)
Protect yourself and your family this summer by following these tips to healthier, sunburn-free skin, and by only buying good-quality, consumer reports-tested sunscreen, such as the ones listed below.
1. Buy Tested Sunscreen with a Minimum Sun Protection Factor (SPF) 30
You may be shocked to learn that not all sunscreens provide as much protection as their labels claim.
There are so many sunscreen brands out there, it’s hard to know what to choose. Your best bet is to go with consumer reports-tested sunscreens as well as sunscreens recommended by dermatologists.
Dermatologists recommend an SPF of at least 30, and many say the higher, the better.
The following sunscreens are highly recommended by consumer reports and by dermatologists all over the country.
La Roche-Posay SPF 60 Melt-in Sunscreen Milk.
Lightweight and fragrance-free, this sunscreen is a good choice for all skin types.
Aveeno Protect + Hydrate Lotion SPF 70.
This sunscreen is recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation for a reason. As its name implies, it’s highly protective with an SPF of 70, and it’s hydrating because it contains colloidal oatmeal, making it a good choice for people with dry skin or eczema.
Coppertone Sport SPF 50 Lotion Sunscreen.
Water resistant for up to 80 minutes, this sunscreen will provide protection while you sweat, whether you’re participating in a round of beach volleyball or just strolling around in the hot sun.
Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen SPF 100+.
It’s not often that you see a sunscreen with such a high SPF as this one. Dermatologists often recommend choosing the highest SPF possible for protection from UV light, and this one takes the cake.
Banana Boat SunComfort Clear UltraMist Spray SPF 50+ Sunscreen.
If you prefer a spray, researchers recommend this sunscreen. Just make sure to rub it in well, and avoid spraying near the face to avoid inhaling any chemicals.
Vanicream Lip Protectant and Sunscreen SPF 30.
Your lips need protection from the sun too! This hypoallergenic lip protectant and sunscreen can be used on the face and body as well as the lips.
Coppertone Kids Sunscreen Stick SPF 55.
If you have little ones running around outside, this stick sunscreen is a great option for face protection. It’s easy to apply, and it won’t run as quickly as cream or spray will.
2. Read Sunscreen Labels
Do yourself and your family a favor and don’t purchase a sunscreen based on claims that it’s “organic,” “all-natural,” or “mineral-based.” These sunscreens perform less well in tests—meaning they don’t provide nearly as much protection from getting a sunburn. Skin cancer is one of those things you don’t want to take a chance with.
Researchers recommend looking for sunscreens that contain chemicals avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, or homosalate.
Another non-negotiable is that the sunscreen you are purchasing should be “broad spectrum.” This means that it’ll protect from the sun’s two harmful rays: UVA and UVB.
You definitely want protection from both types of rays. UVA rays cause aging in the skin, including wrinkles and sagging. UVB rays are responsible for sunburn. Both types of rays increase your risk for melanoma skin cancer.
3. Reapply Often
Many people forget that sunscreen protection only lasts about two hours after application—even less if you’re going in the water. Pack sunscreen to bring with you when you leave the house and reapply every two hours as long as you’ll be outside.
4. Seek Shade
Just because you have sunscreen on does not mean you can sunbathe without any repercussions.
Sunscreen is not magical—it’s just meant to provide extra protection during those times when you are exposed to the sun. If you’re doing a picnic in the park, plant yourself under a large tree. When you’re at the beach, grab an umbrella or a pergola to sit under.
If you know you’ll be doing an activity outside in an area without shade, wear a broad-brimmed sun hat and clothing with SPF protection.
5. Bring Portable Shade
Headed to the beach, park, or the lake? Don’t rely on finding shade there. Instead, keep a portable umbrella, canopy, or gazebo in your trunk for those summer day trips with the family. Most of the portable shade options are light, inexpensive, and easy to assemble at a moment’s notice.
6. Stay Up to Date
Your sunscreen has an expiration date for a reason. After a while, it loses its potency, so it’s best to restock every summer with a fresh bottle.
Also, when you leave the sunscreen out to bake in the sun, it expires more quickly, so make sure to keep it inside instead of on your porch. When you’re out and about, store the sunscreen in a bag in the shade instead of leaving it out after reapplying.
Every time you get a sunburn, you raise your risk of getting skin cancer. That doesn’t mean you should become a hermit, though!
You should definitely get out there and enjoy the sun with your family and friends—just take the precautions necessary in order to stay safe.
Buy dermatologist-recommended and consumer reports-tested sunscreen for the best protection. Make sure to reapply sunscreen every two hours, stay in the shade when possible, and replenish your sunscreen stock each year with new up-to-date bottles.