Sunscreen for Summer - what you need to know!

May 30, 2014

With summer slowly peering around the corner, I wanted to talk about sunscreen and how to protect your skin over the next few (hopefully!) sunny months. There seems to be a lot of confusion around sunscreen and I am asked frequently if it should even be used at all. The answer is yes, but choosing a healthy brand is very important.


The prime hours for exposure to skin-damaging ultraviolet (UV) rays, even on overcast days, is between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. — regardless of season. The most beneficial way to protect yourself is to wear protective clothing; this includes pants, shirts with long sleeves, sunglasses and hats. If you don’t want to wear full clothes on your patio or dock this summer here are the things you need to know about sunscreen:


1) Broad Spectrum - What does this mean?

  • A broad-spectrum sunscreen is designed to protect you from both UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays are the deep penetrating rays that cause wrinkles and age spots and also contribute to damaging your immune system. UVB rays are the ones that burn your skin. Both rays are dangerous and can cause cancerous changes.


2) What does SPF have to do with it?

  • SPF is the sun protection factor. You would think the higher the better but usually the higher the number tends to be most chemical laden. Generally stick to a sunscreen that is SPF 30 and above, but the main thing is . You should use a teaspoon- tablespoon or more for each limb and similar size area of your body and constantly reapply after swimming or sweating. Also it is important to apply sunscreen out of the sun.


3) What are the main chemicals to avoid?

  • The most harmful chemicals to avoid in sunscreens are:

    • “Benzones” (Oxybenzone) à these act as hormone disruptors in the body and are carcinogenic

    • Retinyl Palmitate à exposed to UV rays this chemical causes cancerous skin changes

    • "Fragrance" this is a loop hole term that can contain up to 300 chemicals that aren’t listed on the bottle!


4) What are the safest brands?

  • Chemical free brands are sometimes hard to rub in because they contain Zinc Oxide but it is worth it to go chemical free! Here are the best brands:

    • DeVita (My favorite)

    • Green Beaver

    • Alba Botanica

    • Nature’s Gate

    • Jason


Bottom Line: Apply sunscreen year-round and use common sense! Apply sunscreen generously and seek shade and clothing as your best protective bets!


Dr. Kate Hunter, ND

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