You might NEED sunscreen (think beach days, acne, photoaging)
WARNING: Iâ€™m told the Beautycounter stick has extremely limited stock. Itâ€™s what I use for my face with good ZO%, suspension ingredients & antioxidants, so if youâ€™re interested, order quickly by visiting Lauraâ€™s site at the link above. If they run out, Iâ€™ll update when itâ€™s back.
Remember, the best SAFE sun protection often sells out for a few weeks well ahead of summer so this is the perfect time to talk about this. THE EARLY SUNNY MONTHS IS WHEN YOU NEED THIS MOST!
I wrote in detail about the truth about sun exposure in my book Eat the Yolks. While I covered the basics, like:
The sun is NOT the enemy
We actually NEED sun exposure to get adequate vitamin D & critical photoproducts
RESPONSIBLE sun exposure is key â€“ which includes AVOIDING sunscreens with dangerous, misleading or ineffective ingredients and opting for sun barriers when needed instead (clothing + shade)
Yet I recently found out that there is a LOT I didnâ€™t know about sunscreen, and my sister Laura, my beauty products expert - yep, even the experts need experts ;) helped educate me!
Thanks to Laura, I now realize that the sun exposure/sun protection issue is even more complex than I thought!
â€œItâ€™s complicated,â€ Laura told me. (Surprise, surprise!) â€œYouâ€™ve got to really know how sunscreen is made to choose not just the safest brand, but the safest TYPE of protection within that brand.â€
I asked Laura what more we needed to know about sun exposure and smart sun protection besides what I discuss in Eat the Yolks, and hereâ€™s what she told me:
1. That Iâ€™m RIGHT about sun exposure being healthy â€“ and that avoiding overexposure is key. (I LOVE being right.)
2. HOWEVER, letâ€™s be honest: most of us want to be out in the sun for longer than our skin really would allow (translation: burn city.)
3. This means we need a SAFE sun barrier, and if you donâ€™t want to cover up, like in 90 degree heat; or if thereâ€™s no shade to be found, like on most beaches; itâ€™s time for a safe sunscreen option.
4. This is ESPECIALLY important for ACNE-PRONE skin and for protection AGAINST PHOTODAMAGE. Overexposure can damage the skinâ€™s fragile oils and make photodamage, acne and irritation WORSE, so even if you hate sunscreen, get some safe stuff for your face.
Hereâ€™s whatâ€™s fascinating: I always thought that the â€œsafestâ€ kinds of sun protection, besides clothes and shade, were â€œsunblocksâ€ â€“ white, creamy, zinc-based lotions that donâ€™t fully rub in.
Turns out, those arenâ€™t ACTUALLY sunblocks at all. No lotion or stick product is called â€œsunblockâ€ any more, because â€œsunBLOCKâ€ implies something that doesnâ€™t need to be reapplied. And you should ALWAYS reapply any sun protection product.
â€œNo product you apply can be truly trusted to BLOCK the sun,â€ Laura said.
â€œThe term sunBLOCK implies a product that doesnâ€™t require reapplication, and thatâ€™s just a liability issue â€“ absolutely nothing is foolproof.
â€œYour choices are really between chemical sunscreens (not good) and physical zinc-based sunscreens, which are safer, but you need to choose wisely.â€
Originally, decades ago, â€œscreensâ€ only protected against UVA, but they are now required to offer some UVA and UVB protection. This is where the term â€œbroad-spectrumâ€ came from â€“ it was the alternative to sunblock that still indicated protection against both UVA and UVB rays.
Most chemical-based sunscreens on the market (anything WITHOUT zinc oxide - these use â€œ-benzoneâ€ ingredients like avobenzone and oxybenzone â€“ avoid!), which includes Neutrogena, Coppertone and Banana Boat, not only basically fib about their SPF (anything over 50 is pretty much hooey, as SPF maxes out between 30 & 50)
â€¦but worse, the chemical sunscreens also use ingredients that may become MORE dangerous when theyâ€™re exposed to UV light!
Laura says thatâ€œthe safest sunscreen you can buy is a PHYSICAL (zinc-based) sunscreen â€“ but youâ€™ve got to choose the right kind.
â€œAnd remember, avoid physical sunscreens with titanium dioxide, which might also undergo changes during light exposure. Zinc oxide only!â€
The CRAZY reason you should always use a zinc-based STICK
THIS is what blew my mind.
Laura says: â€œthe number one mistake people make when choosing safer sunscreen is that they donâ€™t realize when the ingredients have SEPARATED.
â€œWith many lotions, the zinc separates from the suspension ingredients â€“ and we donâ€™t even realize it! Sun products are difficult to mix up â€“ they donâ€™t shake well â€“ so itâ€™s a real risk!â€
Hereâ€™s where my jaw dropped. Because really, itâ€™s so simple. Yet I NEVER even thought about it.
Since so many zinc sunscreens nowadays are meant to leave less of a white, thick appearance, itâ€™s even harder to tell whether weâ€™re adequately covered.
Add that to suspension ingredients that donâ€™t maintain the blend of zinc with carrier ingredients and youâ€™ve got a protection disaster waiting to happen.
Thatâ€™s why zinc-based sunscreen STICKS are ideal!
â€œThe suspension ingredients are much more solid â€“ and often, more skin-conditioning â€“ so youâ€™re more likely to get the coverage you need, especially on the face,â€ Laura told me.
Iâ€™ve been a convert to sticks ever since!
(Oh, and I never use spray sunscreens, which have both separation and inhalation risks.)
Try the 3 Bs: Beautycounter (my favorite for the face), Badger or Babo
Sadly, there arenâ€™t a lot of physical sunscreens that I can recommend â€“ because
Many brands donâ€™t have a stick option; or
Some of the quality brands appear to be tested on animals, which is a no-no in my book; or
the base ingredients arenâ€™t ideal.
Here are the zinc-based physical stick sunscreens I like:
Beautycounterâ€™s stick sunscreen has a not-too-high, easily blendable zinc concentration plus solid suspension ingredients in an antioxidant-rich base. This is my favorite for adult skin. (I have sensitive, acne-prone skin that Iâ€™m trying to protect from photodamage as much as possible.) Find out more here.
Badger Balm, a favorite of mine for many years, makes excellent products across the board â€“ their stick is no exception, and itâ€™s excellent for kids and adults. Find out more here.
Babo Botanicals has a 20% zinc oxide concentration in their stick, and itâ€™s great for kids and for sensitive skin. Find out more here.
Other smart ways to protect your skin:
Take an astaxanthin supplement starting NOW through the summer. This may protect you from sunburn and sun damage from the inside.
A vitamin E (mixed tocopherol) supplement might help protect the skin from damage as well. Most are derived from soy, so make sure you can tolerate trace amounts.
Eat plenty of coconut oil!
Use topical products designed to keep skin healthy and strong in the summer. Primal Life Organics products are excellent, and Primally Pure also has a balm that contains zinc oxide.
I hope this helps shed some sun - er, light on a complicated topic!