If you’re looking for the most effective form of sun protection, you may think any old mineral sunscreen will do, but there is more to a safe sunscreen than minerals and the SPF number. Broad-spectrum sun protection means blocking not only the dangerous UVB and UVA rays, but also choosing a product that doesn’t feature a slew of yucky chemicals. By selecting a natural sunscreen with zinc or titanium as the main active ingredient, you’re ensuring you get the protection you need without the long ingredient lists.
Mineral-based sunscreens offer protection immediately, unlike many of the chemical sunscreens which require 30 minutes to become effective, but not all mineral sunscreens are safe. Many are marketed as "mineral sunscreen" but are filled with harmful chemicals, including synthetic emollients, preservatives and artificial fragrances. Watch out for ingredients like: avobenzone, ecamsule, homosalate, octisalate, octocrylene, octyl methoxycinnamate, octyl salicylate and oxybenzone.
Because mineral sun screens don’t penetrate the skin like their chemical counterparts, it’s important to use more — and reapply more often. Mineral sunscreens are often thicker and goopier, so many people make the mistake of using less. Use a shot glass-sized amount of sunscreen and don’t forget overlooked areas like the scalp, lips, tops of the ears, neck, tops of the feet and the back of the legs (which is actually the most common melanoma site in women). In addition to sunscreen, be sure to wear a wide-brimmed hat and a pair of sunglasses with UVA/UVB protection for prolonged periods in the sun.
How do I calculate the SPF that’s right for me?
First, find your approximate sensitivity to the sun:
- Fair skin — can stay in the sun 10 minutes before burning
- Olive skin — can stay in the sun 15 minutes before burning
- Dark skin — can stay in the sun 20 minutes before burning
Divide the amount of time you expect to be in the sun by your sensitivity to the sun as shown above to get the SPF right for the occasion. For example, if you plan to be out 200 minutes and have fair skin, divide 200 by 10. An SPF of 20 would be appropriate for 200 minutes in the sun if you have fair skin.
EWG Sunscreen Guide
The EWG (Environmental Working Group) Sunscreen Guide provides detailed information on the best sun protection in several categories, including mainstream brands, ranked by health hazard, UV protection and stability. Choose a mineral sunscreen that's not only natural but efficient this summer. Frontier Co-op Wholesale sells a wide array of sun care products - and many of them are recommended by the EWG for efficacy and safety!