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Saturday, July 20, 2013

Summer & Sunscreens: Which are the ones you REALLY need?


In the summer we are not only inundated with the rays of sunlight that cause sunburn, peeling and ultimately cancer, but we are presented with a glut of sunscreens that we must choose from. I, as an esthetician, do not recommend tanning in any form, whether it be in a tanning salon or outside in the rays of the sun. In this post I am going to discuss the FDA guidelines for sunscreens and a few types of sunscreens you should be using daily.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has revised their guidelines on sunscreens to help protect consumers because of the rising rates in skin cancers, especially the alarming rise of deadly melanomas. The FDA felt that consumers weren’t understanding or using sunscreens in the right manner, mainly because companies had a number of ways to label SPFs, ingredients, etc. They would also like people to limit their time in the sun, and to not go out in midday (12pm-4pm) when the sun’s rays are the strongest. The FDA urges that sunscreens are NOT a magic bullet to keep skin cancer at bay.

Sunscreens that have the broad spectrum specification now must protect against both UVA and UVB rays. A product with a SPF of lower than 15 must carry a warning that it will not protect against skin cancer. Sunscreens cannot claim to be waterproof anymore, only water-resistant. Labels must also say that they become ineffective in water after 40-80 minutes. Companies can still sell products with a SPF of 50 or more, but the biggest conundrum the FDA had was that it isn’t really clear if sunscreens with a higher SPF are really more effective. Also, consumers many not apply them as frequently. Other countries, like Canada, have much tougher standards with their sunscreens. So do the ones in Europe. In fact, many women used to fly to Europe to buy one brand of sunscreen that was in fact, quite good and very expensive, until it was available here in the United States.

How to select a great sunscreen:

  • Make sure it has an SPF of 15-50 and is labeled broad spectrum protection. Anything higher than this is misleading.
  • Avoid sunscreen sprays if possible, because you cannot be sure you covered all of the area and the spray might be harmful to inhale.
  • Avoid products with Vitamin A, retinol or any derivatives. These make the skin sensitive.
  • The Environmental Working Group recommends avoiding products with oxybenzone, a chemical that may disrupt hormones. Though research has found this effect, scientists say the effect is so weak it may be insignificant. The group instead recommends products that use zinc oxide and titanium dioxide as active ingredients. Many feel these ingredients are much better as they are minerals and broad spectrum.

I took the new FDA recommendations from the NY Times website article here:  http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/05/27/the-new-rules-for-sunscreen/?_r=0

I am going to make a couple of recommendations for the face and body. These are just mine and you can go out to the store and find your own. The keys to mine are one with mineral protectants and one with chemical protectants.


Pure & Free™ Liquid Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 50

(photo courtesy of Neutrogena.com)

  • Neutrogena Pure & Free™ Liquid Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 50- $12.49 Contains Titanium dioxide 5% and Zinc oxide 3%. This is great for oily skins because it absorbs quickly and it not heavy or greasy. You do get the white face for a little while right after apply this but only just a tiny bit, until it absorbs.

La Roche-Posay Anthelios Anthelios 50 Mineral Ultra Light Sunscreen Fluid SPF 50

(photo courtesy of Walgreens.com)

  • La Roche-Posay Anthelios Anthelios 50 Mineral Ultra Light Sunscreen Fluid SPF 50- $32.50 Also a mineral sunscreen, contains 11% Titanium dioxide. Combines anti-oxidants with sunscreen so it is more of an all-around great cream. This one claims to have a non-whitening texture, which I am all for when we are talking mineral sunscreen. It’s more expensive but worth every penny. It won the Allure 2011 Beauty Breakthrough Award!

Coppertone Sensitive Skin Faces Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50

(photo courtesy of Walgreens.com)

  • Coppertone Sensitive Skin Faces Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50-$7.99 This has chemical ingredients, Octinoxate 7.5%, Octisalate 5 % and Zinc Oxide 14.5 %. It is billed for sensitive skin. I have personally used this one and love it. It’s free of alcohol, fragrances, dyes and oils. I like the high SPF content and that it is water resistant to 80 minutes.


Aveeno Active Naturals Natural Protection SPF 50 Lotion

(photo courtesy of Walgreens.com)

  • Aveeno Active Naturals Natural Protection SPF 50 Lotion-$11.99 Contains natural sunscreen ingredients, Titanium dioxide 6% and Zinc oxide 3%, so that anyone can use it. Formulated for sensitive skins. Hypoallergenic with soothing oat. Oil and fragrance free. Best thing of all it is sweat and water resistant to 80 minutes.

Banana Boat Sport CoolZone Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50

(photo courtesy of Walgreens.com)

  • Banana Boat Sport CoolZone Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50- $10.49 This one contains chemical broad spectrum sunscreen ingredients, Avobenzone 2.5%, Homosalate 5.0% , Octocrylene 4.0%. It is billed as great for swim, splash and sport! I like it because it is an all around good sunscreen and is water-resistant up to 80 minutes. Another great thing is that this lotion is non-greasy and fast absorbing, which is great for the heat.


The most important things to consider when thinking of a sunscreen are: how high the SPF is, is it water resistant, oil-free and (most of all) what type of ingredients make up the SPF protection. Most people are okay with handling either the chemical or mineral agents. However, there are many people that cannot handle them and need to find mineral sunscreens. Or they prefer to have natural ingredients. Thankfully many companies make a good alternative. Just make sure to look for titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. Some of them are so great now they don’t even leave a white film anymore after application. Those are usually the much more expensive ones, which is okay as they are protecting our skin from cancer!

A number of foundations have sunscreens too now! They are not high enough to qualify for great broad spectrum coverage (up to SPF 18 mainly), so please make sure to have a regular sunscreen on underneath your foundation. MAC and Bobbi Brown do make BB Creams with SPF 35, but both are chemically based. In general it is better off to go with a foundation that is lacking sunscreen and wear one underneath. A good tidbit of information, SPF causes the face to flash white in photography. Makeup artists prefer to work with foundations WITHOUT SPF in it. That is why good foundations from makeup artist companies will not have SPF in it.

If you have any questions about sunscreens or what you need in a sunscreen, please feel free to comment or email me: mariepapachatzis@gmail.com. I gave Walgreens and www.walgreens.com as examples for the products here but they are available at many mass drug stores such as Rite-Aid, CVS, etc..



  1. Great post, I still don't think a lot of people understand the need for sunscreen/SPF.

    Belle x
    Mascara & Maltesers

    1. Thank you! Maybe they will once they are in the middle of chemotherapy or radiation for melanoma...

  2. Great post, I was talking about this with my mum at the weekend - people seem to think once the suncream's on, that's it and they can spend hours in the sun. Some really helpful tips here :)

    Jess xo

    1. Thanks Jess, I always appreciate your sweet comments!

  3. Hi Marie! I loved your post because I'm an SPF lover... or "needer". I just can't get exposed to the sun without having redness or staining afterwards. I might be trying the Aveeno one, sounds interesting to me <3

    1. Heidi, me too! Sounds like we are both very fair completed. I hope the Aveeno one works out for you!

  4. Great post and very helpful!

  5. i deffo need one too!
    thank you for this post.

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