Choosing the right sun protection can be be a confusing proposition.  Do you need something daily?  Should you apply a different product if you’re going to be out on the water or the golf course?  What ingredients should you look for?  All good questions!

Sun protection products can come in the form of creams, lotions, gels, or sprays.     Some work by absorbing the sun’s rays; some work by reflecting the rays; and some work by simply creating a barrier (block) between the rays and your skin.  For safety and effectiveness, I prefer products which block the sun’s rays.  Those products contain the ingredients zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide. Both create an effective barrier and are often combined for the most protection.

My first choice is zinc oxide, as it’s a great block and is skin friendly. I also like products that contain aloe vera gel, because it works as a natural sunscreen, and helps heal a sunburn, if you happen to overdo it. Safe sun protection can also be found in your closet in the form of hats, umbrellas and protective clothing.

Some sun protection ingredients are safer than others.  For that reason it’s important for you to be selective in choosing sunscreens and learn to read labels. There are 17 sunscreen chemicals approved for use in the US, however not all are considered safe for regular daily use.

Some ingredients to avoid;

Parabens (butyl-, ethyl-, methyl-, and propyl-): Parabens are used as preservatives and are common in sunscreens.  Parabens are considered to be hormone disruptors, which simply means they play a role in upsetting the balance of hormones in your body.

Padimate-O and Parsol 1789 (2-ethylhexyl-4-dimethylaminobenzoic acid and avobenzone): These two chemicals have the potential to damage the DNA in your cells when illuminated with sunlight.

PABA: Though rarely used now in sunscreens, beware of products that contain the ingredient. Forty percent of the population is sensitive to it, experiencing red, itchy skin.

Benzophenone (benzophenone-3), homosalate, and octy-methoxycinnamate (octinoxate): These chemicals are of more concern because they’re also hormone disruptors, and have been shown to alter estrogen activity in lab tests.

Make it a habit to wear safe sun protection product daily, limit your exposure to the sun, and wear protective clothing.  By doing so, you can limit the sun’s aging effects on your skin.