Even though sunscreen is needed all year round to protect vulnerable skin – the largest organ in our bodies – it’s especially on everyone’s minds now that summer is in full swing. According to new research two of the most common types of skin cancer are on the rise. This means it’s more important than ever to use sunscreen and use it wisely.

Unfortunately, just because a sunscreen is highly advertised or the latest thing you heard about on Facebook doesn’t mean it’s a good sunscreen. Here are a few things to keep in mind when selecting your family’s sunscreen.

•  Look for a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher
•  Micronized zinc oxide is one of the best and safest primary ingredients
•  Apply it early and often, even in overcast weather
•  Use about a shot glass full of cream every few hours
•  Pay extra attention to your lips, scalp, the tips of your ears, and the backs of your legs. These easy to forget spots are especially vulnerable.
•  Sunscreen prevents the body from making Vitamin D so be sure to adjust your Vitamin D intake accordingly.
•  Opt for lotion rather than sprays

Why lotion? Spray sunscreens come with a host of safety concerns including nanoparticles and inhaled chemical toxins.

Sunscreen isn’t the only way to protect your skin. Be sure to add wide-brimmed hats, sunglasses and clothing made special sun protection factor (SPF) fabric to your wardrobe and your mindful use of sunscreen on exposed areas.

Something you may not know is that new research suggests that eating a Mediterranean-style diet, with healthy fats and plenty of fruits and vegetables may help to lower your risk of the sun damage that can lead to cancer. Carotenoids, the compounds found in brightly colored produce may be especially helpful in protecting the skin.

My LIVE IT-minded patients know that what you put on your skin is as important as what you put in your body. So don’t mindlessly reach for whatever’s on sale at the grocery store when it’s time to buy sunscreen. Put some thought into it!


Sources and more information:

Search before you buy: Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database includes scientific reviews on thousands of  sunscreens and other cosmetics.

Incidence and Trends of Basal Cell Carcinoma and Cutaneous Squamous Cell Carcinoma: A Population-Based Study in Olmsted County, Minnesota, 2000 to 2010.   

Nanoparticles in sunscreen