As a mother and melanoma survivor, I am passionate about sun protection. But as a surfer and Angeleno, I refuse to give up the outdoor activities that I love so much. Before you grab your sunscreen off the shelf at the grocery store, check out these recommendations.
Just Say No to Spray
For the love of all that is good, please do not purchase spray sunscreens. I have a four-year-old who won’t stand still long enough to apply sunscreen, so I see the appeal of them (I really do!). But here are the facts: Some sunscreens contain toxic ingredients like oxybenzone, octinoxate, retinyl palmitate and paraben preservatives. Because of the fine mist, it is easy to inhale spray sunscreens. This is particularly harmful because the high-alcohol formulas can irritate the lungs and their ingredients can be absorbed into the bloodstream. Even the ones with the “good” ingredients like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide can be toxic if inhaled.
Consider Sea Life
If you love the ocean and all its inhabitants like I do, make sure that you are using a natural sunscreen that doesn’t contain ingredients that are harmful to our coral reefs. Oxybenzone is a common chemical found in sunscreen that can contribute to the bleaching and disrupt reproduction and growth.
Do Your Research
The best thing to do before purchasing your sunscreen is to check out the Environmental Working Group’s website to find safer alternatives. As a bit of a sunscreen guru, I have tried many. I am not a fan of the thick and pasty zinc brands that don’t spread well. While I absolutely appreciate that they may have some of the best ratings on the EWG, they just don’t work for me. I also won’t spend a fortune on sunscreen. I just don’t have it in my budget to drop $45 on 5 ounces of anything. Also, I like a broad-spectrum sunscreen the whole family can use, so I can throw one bottle in my beach bag to share with my daughter and my husband. Finally, it has to work well. I have tried some sunscreens that don’t seem to protect well enough, regardless of a high number on the bottle.
Wear SPF Clothing
Because if you really did it properly, it would take about a quarter of an hour to put all that sunscreen, I opt for SPF clothing. I have a pair of swim pants and a rash guard that I wear at the beach or in the pool. That way, I only have to put sunscreen on my hands, feet and face. I also don’t have to remember to put on the sunscreen 20 minutes before I go out in the sun. I make my daughter wear a long sleeve rash guard as well, even though she is starting to resist. With her little body, if I just have to put sunscreen on her legs, hands and face, I consider it a win. I also have a wide-brimmed hat that I wear on the beach or poolside. I appreciate that I look a bit like a beekeeper, but I am okay with it.
Like I said, I love the beach, and won’t stop going. I also have an SPF-rated umbrella to sit under in the shade. Anyone knows there is really no sitting when you have a child–that is when the beekeeper outfit comes in handy. Now I can build sand castles on the beach or chase waves with my daughter with the best protection.
Whether you are heading to the beach or pool, you know you need to get there early to get a prime parking spot or a lounger by the pool. Peak sun hours between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Try doing a beach morning or a pool afternoon.
Have a great summer, don’t forget to reapply your sunscreen, and be safe and healthy everyone!