- The Journal of the American Medical Association says that one in five of us will get skin cancer in our lifetime.
- Skin cancer kills more than 12,000 people a year, according to the American Cancer Society.
The right sunscreen for the right circumstance
- Heavy activities, such as swimming or running, can cause most sunscreens to quickly wash or sweat away. Look for a water resistant or high performance sunscreen lotion that is designed to stay effective under intense conditions.
- If you're looking for a child-friendly sunscreen, keep in mind that some sun blocking lotions designed for kids go on in a color that becomes clear as it dries. This feature that makes it easier to ensure that you don’t miss any spots. Another kid-friendly factor to look for is the absence of any potential hormone disruptors, oils, fragrances, or dyes.
- The Sun Protection Factor (SPF) is a rating that indicates the degree of protection you can expect from the sun. A higher number generally means more or longer protection. The more sensitive your skin is, and the longer you plan to be out in the sun, the higher the SPF number you should seek.
Screening from the sun – cover up!
- Use sunglasses to protect your eyes from UV rays.
- Wear clothing designed for sun protection.
- Wear a wide–brimmed hat.
- When swimming, wear a bathing cap and/or a wetsuit.
- Avoid the hottest sunrays. Two hours in the sun between 6-8 a.m. is much safer than two hours of sun around noon.
How sunscreen lotions work
- Physically blocking the sun’s rays from your skin.
- Chemically blocking or changing the way your skin reacts to sunlight.
Sunscreen ingredients to avoid
- Nanoparticles: If your sunscreen lotion contains zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, it often also has tiny nanoparticles. Some recent studies suggest that some kinds of nanoparticles may be unsafe.
- Retinyl palmitate: retinyl palmitate is a type of vitamin A that may accelerate the development of skin tumors and lesions when applied in sunlight, according to this recent study.
- Petroleum-based scents: You might like that sunscreen smell, but beware: many people are allergic to these often petroleum-based fragrances. In addition, studies show that these ingredients may introduce skin tumor risks.
- Oxybenzone: A common sunscreen ingredient, oxybenzone can disrupt hormones.
Healthy alternatives to sunscreen lotions
Antioxidants can help protect your skin in two ways: by helping your skin more quickly recover from sun damage and by helping your body to fight the cell-damaging effects of free radicals.
For more on sunscreen safety, check out the 2014 Teen Sunscreen Guide.