August 1, 2017Sunscreen and Sun Protection

Sunscreens: I’ve Got You Covered

One of the most common questions I’m asked in my office, on social media, and by my friends and family is: which sunscreen do I recommend? There are so many options on the market it is information overload! How do you know what is safe? How do you know what is effective? Does price matter and how about SPF number?

Here’s some quick information at your fingertips to make this much clearer:

My Picks:

I always say, the best sunscreen is the one you will actually use!!!!  Here are some of my favorites:

Lotions: For years, I have used and recommended La Roche-Posay’s Anthelios Melt-In Sunscreen Milk SPF 60 because it is smooth, not greasy, and it just plain works. Other great options I have been using lately are Equate (Walmart) Sport Lotion SPF 50 and Coppertone Ultra Guard Lotion SPF 70. For my daughter, I usually opt for Coppertone WaterBabies Lotion SPF 50 or Pure Sun Defense Disney Frozen Lotion SPF 50.

Sprays: Some of my patients prefer a spray to a lotion because it’s so easy to apply. My favorites include Trader Joe’s Spray SPF 50, Banana Boat SunComfort Clear UltraMist Spray SPF 50+ and Equate (Walmart) Sport Continuous Spray SPF 30. Here’s an important safety tip when using spray- never spray directly into your face. It’s not a good idea to inhale spray sunscreens. Instead, spray it into your hands and then rub your hands over your face. Personally, I use spray on my body and opt for lotions or sticks for my face.

Sticks: Two of my top sunscreen sticks are Up & Up (Target) Kids Sunscreen Stick SPF 55 and Neutrogena Beach Defense Water + Sun Protection Stick SPF 50+. For my daughter, I often also opt for Coppertone’s Kids Sunscreen Stick SPF 55. I usually use the stick to apply sunscreen to my face and to my daughter’s face. It’s just so easy not to irritate the eye area using a sunscreen stick. But, make sure to blend in the sunscreen because it’s equally easy not to cover your entire face properly using a stick.

How Can You Tell What to Buy:

When it comes to sunscreen, there are multiple factors which can make a product fail to protect your skin adequately:

  1. You may not be using enough. I always tell my patients you need a shot glass full of sunscreen to properly cover your face and exposed areas!
  2. You may not be applying it properly. If you go in the water, reapply. If you are out in the sun for two hours, reapply. If you are going outside, apply 15 minutes before you are in the sun.
  3. The packaging might not be entirely accurate. While the Food and Drug Administration requires manufacturers to test their products, the agency doesn’t do its own independent testing to verify claims. For this reason, I like to rely on studies done by Consumer Reports which are the result of lots of testing to actually verify that the product works as advertised. Some sunscreens which say right on the bottle they are SPF 50 can test as SPF 10
  4. It could be expired. Check the date on your sunscreen! Also, if you left your sunscreen in a hot car or on the hot beach last year, throw it out. It won’t work effectively any more. Invest in your skin and buy a new bottle. Many of the best rated options are very affordable!
  5. Most “Natural” options aren’t holding up to testing as well as their chemical counterparts. Natural or mineral sunscreens that contain titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide, but don’t contain any chemicals, haven’t performed as well. Yes, you can burn through these, and so can your children! If you have very, very sensitive skin and only can tolerate all natural, my current pick is California Kids Supersensitive Lotion SPF 30+.

I will be sharing all kinds of information on this hot subject with you guys over the next few weeks. Check back in for updates! This is such a key subject matter and it shouldn’t be confusing or overwhelming. I am here to help keep you informed and covered so that you practice safe sun this summer!

Xoxo,

Dr. Whitney