If you ever wished you had a Ph.D. in chemistry while shopping for sunscreen, you’re not alone. With so many Greek-sounding chemicals listed in most sunscreen ingredients lists, it can be mind-boggling to figure out which sunscreen is right for you. Depending on your skin type and outdoor lifestyle, certain sunscreen ingredients are more likely to provide the optimal protection your skin needs from potentially damaging rays of the sun.
Choosing Sun Screen Based on Your Skin Type
Sunscreen for people with sensitive skin: One of the best ways to determine which sunscreen is best for you is to match your sunscreen with your skin type. People with sensitive skin should choose a sunscreen that is both hypoallergenic and fragrance-free. In most cases, that means choosing a sunscreen that contains the minerals titanium dioxide or zinc oxide, both of which are physical sunblocks that lie on top of the skin instead of soaking into the pores like water into a sponge. An affordable sunscreen for people with sensitive skin is Neutrogena Sensitive Skin Sunblock Lotion SPF 60, which can be found at most drugstores, such as CVS and Walgreens, for about $10. You can also try a sunscreen designed for children, most of which do not contain para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA), a well-known skin irritant.
Sunscreen for people with dry skin: If your skin is more Sahara Desert than Amazon Rain Forest, select a sunscreen with glycerin or aloe that will moisturize your skin while protecting it from the sun’s potentially damaging rays. Also be sure to avoid sunscreens that contain alcohol, a skin-drying agent that is often found in sunscreen gels and sprays. While you can pay as much as $60 for a boutique brand, Eucerin Extra Protective Moisture Lotion, SPF 30, is available for about $10 at discount stores-and you’ll save even more money by not having to buy an additional moisturizer.
Sunscreen for people with acne-prone skin: Greasy sunscreens can wreak havoc on acne-prone skin. Look for an oil-free sunscreen that contains avobenzone or oxybenzone and has the word noncomedogenic (a fancy word for non-clogging) on the label. One popular sunscreen for people with acne-prone skin is Hawaiian Tropic Oil Free Sensitive Skin Sunscreen, SPF 50, available at most drug stores. At only $9, you’ll have money left over to order a mai tai while lounging around the pool.
Choosing Sun Screen Based on Your Outdoor Lifestyle
If you sweat profusely or spend a lot of time in the pool, keeping sunscreen on your skin can seem as futile as Lucy trying to keep up with the caffeinated conveyor belt at the chocolate factory. While there is no such thing as waterproof sunscreen, the good news is that certain sunscreens are more water and sweat resistant than others. If the claim “water resistant” is on the label of a sunscreen package, the FDA requires that the sunscreen stays on for at least 40 minutes in the water. Even better, the phrase “very water-resistant” means the sunscreen should be effective for at least 80 minutes in the water. A popular choice of sunscreen for athletic swimmers is KINeSYS, a line of sunscreeen products that has won many parenting and environmental awards. KINeSYS sunscreen products can be purchased at bicycle and other outdoor lifestyle stores like REI or online at http://www.kinesysstore.com/.
Sunscreen Application Tips
Regardless of which sunscreen you use, experts advise that you apply sunscreen at least one half hour before going outdoors and reapply your sunscreen throughout the day, especially if you sweat (or perspire if you’re a woman) or spend a lot of time in the water. Be sure to use sunscreen on cloudy days, too-although you may not feel their warmth, the powerful rays of the sun go right through this fluffy shield.