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Are All Sunscreens the Same?

I find myself daydreaming about basking in the sun at the beach, at the pool, on a boat. Ahhhh, the sun … oh, how I love thee let me count the ways! But I know I have to do one thing first … find the sunscreen!

How many times have I done this? I find myself standing and staring at the shelves of numerous sunscreens at my local superstore. Hmmmm, what will I choose this year? Do I need 15 SPF? How about 30 SPF? Oooh, I like baby lotion scent, should I just get 50 SPF Baby Sunscreen?

Does this sound familiar? Grabbing various bottles and reading the fine print of bottle after bottle searching for what you think are the right ingredients, right SPF, and scent.

Before we head out to the store this year for our supply of sunscreen, let’s first narrow down which SPF we will choose. What is an SPF exactly? What do the numbers mean?

SPF actually stands for sun protection factor .And just in case you are thinking the SPF numbers indicate how long you can spend out in the sun without getting a sunburn, think again! The numbers refer to the amount of UVB protection the sunscreen offers. Sunscreens with SPF 15 filter out 93 percent of UVB rays, SPF 30 filters out 97 percent, SPF 50 blocks 98 percent, and SPF 100 blocks 99 percent of UVB rays.

With our foundational knowledge of SPF, let’s look at what consumers report as their top five sunscreens:
neutrogena ultra sheer dry touch sunblock

  1. Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunblock The active ingredients in this sunscreen are avobenzone and oxybenzone. These ingredients give protection against short- and long-wave UVA rays. This product protects against long-term skin damage. Sunbathers like this sunscreen (in SPF 30) because it’s not too heavy when applied and it is unscented. If you choose this Neutorgena SPF above 30 you get their patented Helioplex formula which provides more stable, long lasting protection than just avobenzone alone. Added bonus: it contains antioxidants.
  1. No-Ad Sunblock Lotion SPF 45. You may have guessed the name of this product stands for “no advertising”. No-Ad is less expensive than other sunscreens, but does provide broad-spectrum UVA/UVB protection. No-Ad SPF 45 contains avobenzone; their SPF 45 product protects against long-term skin damage. Beach goers rate it as very water-resistant, lasting upwards of 80 minutes in the water. On land, it doesn’t last as long as the five hours of protection you get from Neutorgena’s higher SPFs containing Helioplex. Added bonus:No-Ad contains antioxidants in the form of vitamins A and E.

no ad sunscreen blue lizard sensitive sunscreen

  1. Blue Lizard Sunscreen Sensitive SPF 30+. Trying to protect baby? This may be a good choice for you. Babies and those with sensitive skin can benefit from this fragrance-free sunscreen. Instead of chemical sunscreen ingredients that can irritate sensitive skin, Blue Lizard Sunscreen Sensitive SPF 30+ (and Blue Lizard Baby) contain titanium dioxide and zinc oxids, which acts as an effective barrier against UVA and UVB rays. Thick, creamy and water resistant, Blue Lizard can take time to apply. Note: Because it contains zinc/titanium, it can leave a milky white film on the skin.
  1. Banana Boat Sport Performance Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 100. Athletes rave over this sunscreen due to its high level of protection for long sun exposure. Athletes noted “product does not run into my eyes, even with excessive sweat”. This product is very water and sweat resistant — meaning that it can last upwards of 80 minutes in the water. Caution: the high SPF rating doesn’t mean the formula doesn’t need to be reapplied often. For best protection, the sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours and after swimming or sweating excessively.

banana boat sport performance sunscreen badger sunscreen for face and body

  1. Badger SPF 30 for Face & Body. Environmental and all-natural enthusiasts love this one because it contains organic ingredients and relies on mineral sunscreen actives rather than chemical ones. Containing 20.5 percent zinc oxide, allows this product to provide excellent UVA and UVB protection. Similar in application to Blue Lizard brand (due to the zinc oxide), it may be a bit more difficult to apply. Those who burn easily have reported Badger does a better job of protecting their skin than other sunscreens – (even those with a high SPF). This product contains natural fragrance from essential oils. If you prefer a fragrance free product, this may not be the one for you,

Sand, sun, beach — woo hoo! I just want to jump in the water, bask in the sun and get my Vitamin D on! But play it safe. Sunscreen potency will decrease as time goes on, so wearing a higher number sunscreen doesn’t necessarily mean you can remain in the sun longer. Also, since you’re likely sweating, swimming or playing sports outdoors, the sunscreen will eventually wash away. So, a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or more is recommended, and if you have really fair skin, go even higher. Reapply sunscreen every two hours — don’t wait to see if your skin is turning that pretty shade of pink before reapplying. Note: a sunburn may take up to 24 hours to appear fully.

When fully protected with your chosen sunscreen, proceed ahead! Enjoy the beauty of nature, breathe in the fresh air, and carpe diem (seize the day)! See ya on the shore, I’ll be the one with sand in her suit, a book in hand and smile on my face!

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