The Guide to Safe Sunscreens: Protect Your Skin This Summer


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Jun 23, 2024

The Guide to Safe Sunscreens: Protect Your Skin This Summer

A variety of six sunscreen containers around a sun-shaped patch of sunscreen on a blue background. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), South Florida has one of the highest UV

A variety of six sunscreen containers around a sun-shaped patch of sunscreen on a blue background.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), South Florida has one of the highest UV indexes in the United States. The UV index predicts the levels of ultraviolet radiation on a scale of one to 11+. During July, South Florida is expected to experience UV levels of 11+ or “extreme ultraviolet radiation”. The EPA advises South Florida residents and visitors to limit their sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. and protect against sun damage by wearing a shirt, hat, and sunscreen.

Not all sunscreens are created equal. Certain ingredients commonly found in conventional sunscreens can pose potential health risks. Chemical filters such as oxybenzone and octinoxate, which are used to absorb UV rays, have been linked to hormone disruption and may even contribute to coral bleaching in our oceans. Additionally, some sunscreens contain preservatives like parabens, which have been associated with allergic reactions and skin irritation.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration stated that most conventional sunscreens contain one or more than a dozen ingredients that should be further researched by manufacturers before they are deemed safe and effective. The non-profit consumer advocacy group Environmental Working Group tested over 1,700 sunscreens for their safety and effectiveness. On the “EWG’s Guide To Sunscreens” website, consumers can search for most sunscreen brands to see if they are safe to use.

To make an informed choice, consumers need to understand the information provided on sunscreen labels. The Sun Protection Factor (SPF) rating indicates the level of protection against UVB rays. It is important to note that SPF only measures protection against UVB rays, which are responsible for sunburns and superficial skin damage. For comprehensive protection, a broad-spectrum sunscreen is necessary, as it shields against both UVB and UVA rays. In terms of ingredients, safe sunscreens often contain mineral-based filters such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, which physically block and reflect UV radiation rather than being absorbed into the skin. These mineral-based sunscreens are generally considered safer than chemical sunscreens.

When selecting a safe sunscreen consumers should consider the following factors:

– SPF and Broad-Spectrum Protection: Look for a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher and broad-spectrum protection to ensure comprehensive defense against both UVB and UVA rays.

– Physical or Mineral-Based Sunscreens: Opt for sunscreens that contain zinc oxide or titanium dioxide as their active ingredients. These mineral-based filters offer natural protection without the potential risks associated with chemical sunscreens.

– Avoid Harmful Chemicals: Read the ingredient list and steer clear of sunscreens that contain oxybenzone, octinoxate, homosalate, and other potentially harmful chemicals.

– Water and Sweat Resistance: If you plan on swimming or engaging in physical activities, choose a sunscreen that is water-resistant and sweat-resistant to ensure prolonged protection.

By considering these factors, consumers can make a more informed decision and select a safe sunscreen that suits each individual's needs.

Applying sunscreen correctly is just as important as choosing the right product. The following are some key tips to ensure maximum protection:

– Apply Generously: Apply a generous amount to all exposed areas of the skin, including the face, neck, ears, and hands.

– Reapply Frequently: Sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours, or more frequently if you are swimming or sweating profusely. Even water-resistant sunscreens can lose their effectiveness over time.

– Don't Forget the Often-Neglected Areas: Many people forget to apply sunscreen to areas like the scalp, lips, and tops of the feet. Use a hat, lip balm with SPF, and wear protective footwear to ensure these areas are adequately shielded from the sun.

– Avoid Peak Sun Hours: If possible, avoid direct sun exposure during the peak hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. when the sun's rays are the strongest. Seek shade or wear protective clothing during this time.

By following these application tips, consumers can enhance the effectiveness of their sunscreen and reduce the risk of sunburn and long-term skin damage.

As South Floridians enjoy the warmth and beauty of summer, it is essential to prioritize the health of our skin. Safe sunscreens play a vital role in protecting our skin from the harmful effects of UV radiation. We can ensure optimal sun protection by understanding sunscreen labels, choosing the right products, and incorporating proper application techniques.

Our personal injury law firm is dedicated to protecting Florida’s families. We strive to help keep our communities safe through resources like this. However, when the unexpected does occur, we are dedicated to helping families through every step of the legal process. Speak to one of our experienced personal injury attorneys at (305) 662-6178.

Mitchell Panter, Esq.

Mitchell Panter, Esq. is a Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney, Community Advocate and Managing Partner at Panter, Panter & Sampedro, P.A.

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The Dangers of Conventional SunscreensUnderstanding Sunscreen Labels and IngredientsHow to Choose a Safe SunscreenSunscreen Application Tips for Maximum ProtectionPrioritizing Skin's Health This Summer