Sunscreen must be part of your family's daily routine, just like eating healthy and getting enough sleep. Yes, it is more work, but since skin cancer and 90% of aging are caused by the sun, it's worth it. I cannot stress enough how the daily application of sunscreen is the most essential step to protect and preserve your and your loved ones' skin!
I always recommend that you figure out some sunscreen hacks to make it easy to integrate the step into your routine and each of your family members. Once you do, sun protection becomes so much easier. I have at least six types of sun protection in my family sunscreen wardrobe and pick and pull from these depending on the day's activity and who is with me!
My Family's Sun Protection Wardrobe
- I like a daily zinc-based face sunscreen with a tint that blurs any imperfections. Dermaquest SPF 30 and Ilia Super Serum are my two favorites.
- I use a daily body sunscreen for my neck, chest, and arms during summer days, even when heading to work. I opt for non-tinted so that it does not stain my clothes. This body sunscreen also doubles for my husband and kids' daily face sunscreen. Right now, we're all loving Supergoop!'s Sheerscreen SPF 30.
- I swear by a powder sunscreen for easy reapplication over my makeup throughout the day. It is also ideal for everyone's scalp, ears, and hands when playing sports like tennis and you need a good grip ( not a slippery one). I use Colorscience and Brush-on-Block and stash them in my purse and glove box so we are never without.
- It's always worth investing in a good water-resistant sunscreen for outdoor exercise and water play. Tizo's Body & Face SPF 45 is what we’re using as a family now.
- So many people forget to protect their lips. It is a common place to get skin cancer, too. The whole family should have a Supergoop! or Tizo lip balm with SPF.
- I also take an oral supplement with polypodium leucotomos and antioxidants for added sun protection from May to September. I personally like the SUNISDIN Daily antioxidant supplement.
- Don't forget about sunglasses, hats, and sun-protective clothing. Get your kids trained at a young age to think that a bathing suit is long-sleeved. It makes the sunscreen reapplication process so much easier!
On the subject of whether a high SPF protects your skin better, all you and your family need is an SPF (sun protective factor) of 30. An SPF 30 means you can stay in the sun 30 times longer than you could without it before burning. However, this does not consider the fact that sunscreen starts to break down as soon as it is applied to the skin. No matter the SPF you use, you still need to reapply it every 2 hours when outside enjoying the sun.
Further, SPF only describes the protection from UVB rays which are the ones that damage your skin's DNA. UVA rays penetrate the skin more deeply, causing wrinkles and brown spots. Instead of looking for a product with the highest SPF, I tell my patients to look for a product with at least an SPF30 that is also labeled broad-spectrum protection.
Chemical vs Mineral Sunscreens
In the world of sunscreens, we talk about chemical vs. mineral protection. Minerals sunscreens, like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, are natural and non-toxic. They sit on top of your skin and block the sun like reflectors.
Chemical sunscreens like oxybenzone, octinoxate, octisalate and avobenzone protect the skin by absorbing the sun's rays then converting them into heat that is released from the skin. These are not natural and likely non-toxic, but they accumulate in our blood and waterways. We are studying what this means, but I certainly would like to minimize the accumulation of any unneeded chemicals in my body or our world whenever possible. Furthermore, avobenzone is a common cause of sunscreen allergy, and oxybenzone contributes to the death of coral reefs.
Taking all of this into account, I only use mineral sunscreens. Zinc oxide protects against UVB rays that cause burns and UVA rays that break down collagen and activate brown spots. It used to have a reputation for being thick and white, but these days, many of the sunscreens with zinc are cosmetically quite elegant. Titanium dioxide is another good physical sunscreen, but it only protects from UVB rays, so products need to have titanium dioxide and zinc oxide to provide broad-spectrum protection. Zinc oxide is safe for the entire family. It is what we use in diaper creams.
A Few Closing Remarks
Sunscreen is only as good as the job done applying it! Use a lot, reapply often and wear a hat and sunglasses. Use two full ounces on your bikini-clad body for each application.
- A plain white t-shirt only has an SPF (UPF when talking about clothing) of 8, which drops to 4 when wet. Increase the sun protection in your clothes by washing them with RIT sun guard at the beginning of summer.
- If you get sunburned, take an anti-inflammatory like ibuprofen as soon as possible to help with the redness and pain. Coat the sunburned areas with Doctor Rogers Healing Balm to protect and heal the skin and drink plenty of water.
Watch the video here to learn more about my favorite sunscreens.
Here is a list of my favorite sunscreen products.
- BeautyCounter - CounterSun
- SuperGoop! - Play Spray
- SuperGoop!- Play 100% Mineral Body Mist with Green Tea Extract SPF 50
- Replenix - Sheer Physical Sunscreen
- Isdin - Eryfotona Actinica
- Tizo - Ultra Zinc Body & Face Non-Tinted SPF 40
Non-Tinted Face Sunscreen:
- Elta MD - UV Replenish Broad Spectrum 44
- Elta MD - UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF46
- Elta MD - UV Clear Broad Spectrum SPF 40
- Neutrogena - SheerZinc Face Sunscreen
- SuperGoop! - Mineral Sheer Sunscreen SPF 30
- Vanicream - Broad Spectrum
- La Roch - Posay Anthelios Mineral
- Dermaquest - Sheer Zinc
- Isdin - Eryfotona Actinica Ultralight Emulsion SPF 50+ Sunscreen
Tinted Face Sunscreen:
- SuperGoop! - CC Cream
- SuperGoop! - Zincscreen 100% Mineral Lotion SPF 40
- Isdin - Eryfotona Ageless Ultralight Tinted Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50+
- SunTegrity - 5 In 1 Tinted Sunscreen Moisturizing
- Ilia - Super Serum Skin Tint
- DermaQuest - SheerZinc SPF 30 Tinted
- Elta MD - UV Elements Broad-Spectrum SPF 44
- Colorscience - Brush on Shield
- Brush On Block - Mineral Powder
- Isdin - Mineral Brush
- SuperGoop! - (Re)Setting Mineral Powder
- SuperGoop! - Poof 100% Mineral Part Powder SPF 35
- SkinBetter - SunBetter Sheer SPF Stick
- SkinBetter - SunBetter Sheer SPF Compact
- SuperGoop! - Play 100% Mineral Stick SPF 50
Fun ZincBased Sunscreens:
- Kinship - Self Reflect
- SuperGoop! - Shimmer Shade
- Tizo -Tinted Lip Protection
- SuperGoop! - Cloud9 Mineral Based Balm
Wash-In Sun Protection
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Meet the author: Board-certified and practicing dermatologist, Dr. Heather D. Rogers, MD, is the founder of Doctor Rogers Skin Care and Modern Dermatology in Seattle, Washington. She studied at Stanford, University of Washington School of Medicine and Columbia University Medical Center. She lectures nationally, is well published, and an active member of the American Academy of Dermatology. Highly respected among the skin care community, Dr. Rogers has been annually named “Top 1% of Most Honored Doctors in the US” by Castle Connolly.