What is your skin's best defense against ultraviolet radiation? Or in other words, what's the best way to moderate how much sun exposure you receive?
Dermatologists recommend your best defense to protect your skin is a combination of wearing sun protection apparel, a hat, and sunglasses, and to seek shade and avoid the time of day when the sun is peaking. Generally speaking, midday is when the sun's rays are strongest. You can even plan your best days to spend in the sun by entering your zip code and finding out your area's UV Index and forecast for the week.
EWG.org takes it a step further and states that sunscreen should be your last resort. The best way to interpret this statement is to understand that relying on sunscreen alone is not enough. Most people do not apply enough to protect their skin, and if you do wear sunscreen it often rubs off or wears down over time. Chances are you won't remember to reapply it every two hours. Reapply every two hours! That means if you're out all day that's 5-6 reapplications of sunscreen, applied thoroughly to your skin. That is a lot of sticky, gooey sunscreen.
Once you've covered your first line of defense by wearing sun protection apparel, seeking shade and avoiding the times of the day when the sun's rays are strongest, then find the best sunscreen for you.
The best sunscreen is the one you're willing to wear every day.
The best sunscreen for you should be rated no higher than SPF50, generally between SPF20-50. Pick a broad spectrum sunscreen that will protect you from both UVA and UVB rays so you're covered for both wrinkles and brown spots, giving your skin the best possible protection to stay healthy. There are many chemicals to avoid such as oxybenzone which are harmful to you as well as harmful to our environment. Selecting a physical sunscreen that contains zinc oxide will help avoid any chemicals.
It's a rabbit hole of information to truly educate yourself to pick a sunscreen that is safe for your skin. But since it is something you'd use daily, it's worth the time. Then you need to become proficient with label reading to understand if your favorite sunscreen contains any ingredients that may be harmful for you.
The best sun protection apparel?
Sun protection clothing has a UPF rating scale, Ultraviolet Protection Factor. The ideal sun protection clothing will be rated UPF 50+, however clothing rated UPF 30 will still block 1/30 of UV rays.
Try to pick sun protection clothing that is made of fabric that's OEKO-TEX® certified so you'll be keeping your skin and body safe as well as doing your part to care for the environment.
(OEKO-TEX® certified fabric has been tested for harmful substances and deemed harmless in human ecological terms.)
Ideally your sun protection clothing is made of fabric with permanent sun protection qualities that don't wash out. It may cost a little more because it's durable, but it's actually a wise investment - consider how much sunscreen you'd need to purchase to care properly for your skin!
So your best defense?
Reapply sunscreen every two hours.
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