A little bit of sunshine can go a long way when it comes to our bodies. Catchin' some rays can boost your vitamin D and serotonin levels, improve your immune system, and brighten your mood. And while 20 minutes in the sun can do a lot for you, it's important to remember that your skin needs daily protection from those UV rays.
Sunscreens come in all different shapes and sizes, along with a plethora of confusing ingredients. So in order to help you tackle the sunscreen aisle, we've put together some quick go-to tips.
1. Chemical vs. Physical
When it comes to sunscreen, the biggest difference is chemical (sunscreen) vs. physical (sunblock). To keep it simple, chemical sunscreens are the most readily available. The common chemicals used include: oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and octinoxate. Most commonly, they are used in combination. These chemical-based sunscreens work by absorbing into the skin and breaking down the UV rays so that they are rendered harmless. Physical blocks act as a barrier between the skin and the sun so that the UV rays physically do not come in contact with your skin. The most commonly used materials are zinc and titanium dioxide. You'll recognize these sunblocks as having a whiter color and thicker texture. However, there have been many recent advances in technology so that these formulas are easier to apply and minimizing the appearance of that streaky white residue. This is really just personal preference, but the bottom line is - chemical or physical - it’s important to protect your skin from the sun.
2. How Much SPF?
SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor and refers to the theoretical time you can spend outside without getting sunburnt. However, this does not necessarily mean that a higher SPF is better. Most medical professionals recommend using an SPF 30, but claim that after reaching an SPF 50, the results will not be very different. This is because sunscreens with more SPF contain more chemicals and may actually get diminishing returns. And is important to remember that no SPF can block 100% of the sun's rays.
Just because you've applied sunscreen in the morning, doesn't mean you're set for the day. Be sure to reapply every 2 hours, and even more often if you're swimming or sweating.
So you did everything right and still got sunburn. What now? These are some of our favorite natural remedies:
- Aloe vera has been used for ages to heal sunburn. You can find gels and lotions just about anywhere, but the plant itself works best.
- Apple cider vinegar or essential oils can also help to soothe sunburns. Just put the mix into a spray bottle and spritz onto the skin as needed.
- Coconut oil has unique fats that help to heal sunburned skin and inflammation. It also helps to moisturize and hydrate the skin, relieving it from the discomfort of peeling.
- Cucumbers are rich in antioxidants and can provide instant relief to burnt skin. Just cut a cool cucumber into thin slices and place on the skin. You'll notice that the swelling, redness and pain will soon subside.
Cheers to fun in the sun!