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Sunscreen—Our SFRX Recommendations

Dr. Lindsey Mcilvena, MD

In her day job, treating patients living with chronic disease, nutrition and lifestyle are not after-thoughts, they’re central to helping her patients get well. She’s also our go-to expert on plant-based diets.

Time to buy some sunscreen. But which one? We’ve got you covered this year with some SuperFoodsRx recommendations. Read about some important qualities to look for in a sunscreen, and then see our specific product recommendations list.

Label Must Say Broad Spectrum

Look for sunscreens that specifically say they are broad spectrum. This means they protect you from both UVB rays which cause burns and cancer, and also UVA rays which age your skin and increase your cancer risk. The SPF label only refers to the ability of the sunscreen to block UVB rays, which is why we recommend sunscreens that say broad spectrum coverage. We like products that contain either zinc oxide or titanium dioxide as these ingredients naturally block both UVA and UVB rays.

SPF and Water Resistance

Choose broad spectrum sunscreen that is at least SPF 30. Because we apply less in the real world than the sunscreen researchers do in the lab, SPF 30 will block at least 90% of the harmful UVB rays. Look for brands that state they are water resistant up to 80 minutes. If it says 40 minutes of water resistance just don’t forget to reapply! That goes for the 80 minute water resistant brands as well. Reapplying is the key!

Skip the Spray

Even though it’s tempting to buy spray sunscreens because they are so convenient, they don’t provide nearly as reliable coverage as a lotion or stick product. Remember that when researchers test these products in the lab they apply it very thickly, like icing on a cake, which is hard to achieve in real life. You most likely won’t get adequate coverage with a spray and you’ll leave your skin at risk for damage and burns. Also, don’t feel like you have to buy special sunscreen just for the face. Body sunscreen can be worn on the face as well!

  • Our Recommended brands for sunscreen, which meet the above criteria are:
    • Neutrogena Sheer Zinc Dry-Touch Sunscreen, SPF 30 and SPF 50
    • Badger Baby Sunscreen, SPF 30
    • Jason Mineral Sunscreen, SPF 30
    • The Honest Company Mineral Sunscreen, SPF 50+
    • Tom’s of Maine Baby Sunscreen, SPF 30
    • No-Ad Sun Care Baby Sunscreen Stick, SPF 50

Remember the Lip Balm

Lips are at risk for sun damage too, particularly the bottom lip because of the rays shining downward onto that sensitive area of the face. Look for at least SPF 30 and broad spectrum.

  • We like the brands Vanicream and True Natural Lip Balm—both are SPF 30 and contain zinc oxide and titanium dioxide which block both UVA and UVB rays.

How to Use

Now that you know the right sunscreens to buy, it’s key that you use it properly.  Apply sunscreen every day to all parts of your body that aren’t covered by clothing.  Don’t forget your neck, top of your ears and feet.  And it’s best to apply your sunscreen 15 – 30 minutes before going outside.

At SuperFoodsRx we believe in simple foods that contain maximum nutrition with few additives. We feel the same about sunscreens. If you’re concerned about the chemical components of sunscreen and you’re looking to decrease your exposure to additives, look no further than these choices. We believe in them, and so does the Environmental Working Group. All of these products received their top rating based on the safety of the ingredients.

For more information about sun health facts, check out these articles from Dr. Mcilvena.

References:

American Academy of Dermatology, 2017, How to Select a Sunscreen.

American Academy of Dermatology, 2017, Sunscreen Facts.

Mayo Clinic, 2017, Understanding Sunscreen Options

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