Choosing Sunscreen for Summer

summer sunIt’s finally the best time of year in Portland….summer. We in the Northwest are lucky to live in one of the best summer climates around, and everyone does their best to take full advantage after long rainy months. We understand the desire to be in the sunshine, but when you’re pursuing your outdoor adventures, remember to respect the strength of the sun’s powerful rays by protecting your skin and choosing the right sunscreen.

Tips for fun in the sun:

– The hours between 10am and 4pm are when the sun’s strength is highest, and UV radiation peaks at midday. ¬†Wear sunscreen during these times, and be sure to cover up if you expect prolonged exposure to the sun. ¬†Shade and protective clothing are your friends!

– Sunglasses protect your eyes from the sun’s UV radiation, and can help prevent cataracts caused by UV radiation. You now have an excuse to go out and buy that new pair you have been wanting.

– Keep an eye on your kids, they are especially vulnerable to the sun’s UV rays, as well as chemical allergens found in many commercial sunscreens. Infants under 6 months old should be kept out of direct sun as much as possible. They do not yet have the melanin in their skin that protects from the sun.

– Use a sunscreen between SPF 15 and SPF 50. Anything over SPF 50 gives a false sense of protection in the sun, and there is controversy that these products even offer that kind of protection.

– Choose a sunscreen with safe ingredients! The method of application also matters when it comes to sunscreen. Avoid sunscreens with the chemical oxybenzone, a synthetic estrogen. Look for sunscreens with zinc oxide and avobenzone as active ingredients.

How to choose a safe, non-toxic sunscreen? Here is a list from Environmental Working Group that highlights some of the best sunscreen products on the market.