News of Madison Valley

Dr. Sarah’s Natural Health Tips: Staying Sunscreen Savvy


Within the last few weeks, many people have been coming in to Pharmaca with questions about sun exposure and potential skin damage. Unfiltered sun exposure has many benefits, especially because it can boost your body’s natural production of vitamin D, but typically only 20 minutes of sun exposure is necessary. Any time beyond that should involve sun protection in the form of clothing or applied sunscreen. Here’s a condensed road map to help you navigate your options.

Mineral Sunscreens

Mineral sunscreens use titanium dioxide or zinc oxide to reflect the sun’s rays off of the body. Zinc oxide is a particularly good mineral sunscreen because it blocks both UVA and UVB rays. My favorite mineral sunscreen products with zinc are ThinkSport SPF 50+ (non-greasy, and water resistant for 80 minutes!) and Babo Botanicals Clear Zinc Sport Stick for Kids (an easy-to-use sunstick that’s great for faces of all ages).

Chemical Sunscreens

Chemical sunscreens use an array of chemicals like avobenzone and octocrylene. These ingredients penetrate the skin and absorb UV radiation, so they’re less likely to rub off from swimming or sweating. They can also provide a higher sun protection factor (SPF) than some of the mineral sunscreens. If you’re considering using a chemical sunscreen, try to avoid anything with oxybenzone in its ingredient list, as this chemical can be absorbed into the bloodstream and act like estrogen in the body. La Roche-Posay Anthelios 40 Sunscreen Cream provides both UVA and UVB protection with safer chemical ingredients, and is light, fragrance-free and smooth to the touch post-application.

How To Use

With any sunscreen, regardless of SPF, make sure you reapply every two hours to ensure UV protection, especially if you’re sweating or swimming. Avoid products with SPF higher than 50, as these may tempt you to stay out in the sun longer because you won’t burn, but can expose you to other skin damage.

I hope this is helpful for your summer sunscreen search! For more information, you can visit the Environmental Working Group’s 2014 Guide to Sunscreen, or speak with the naturopaths and estheticians here at Pharmaca. Enjoy a happy and healthy summer!


Topics: Health & Beauty