Hopefully you and your family have been spending your summer days at the pool, soaking in the sun and fun. But is everyone slathering up with the proper protection? All sunscreens are not created equal, so be sure you're looking closely at what you're using and who you're using it on - you and your spouse, your older kids and babies.
These days it almost goes without saying, but wearing sunscreen is a must when spending time outdoors. Add to that the amount of direct intense sunlight that hits the pool and is reflected off its surface and that's why it is of paramount importance to ensure that your whole family is protected from the UV rays that cause skin cancer, discoloration, aging and sunburn and a whole lot of discomfort.
How to Choose the Right Sunscreen
While it is important to stay protected, it is even more important to ensure you get the right protection for you and every member of your family. Look for these criteria:
- SPF 30+: The best protection for your whole family is an all-natural sunscreen that's SPF 30+ (which prevents more than 98 percent of the sun’s rays from affecting your skin) and broad spectrum (blocks both UVB and UVA rays). Depending on the product, you should re-apply before and after being in the water. Although some sunscreen products claim to be water-resistant, it is always a wise choice to play it smart by applying several times during the day.
- Contains avobenzone and zinc oxide or titanium dioxide: These potent active ingredients easily penetrate your skin's surface, helping to absorb all harmful UV rays.
- PA rating: The FDA has proposed new guidelines in order to measure the exact effectiveness of sunscreens. The PA rating system was developed in Japan, but an increasing number of companies in the U.S. are beginning to implement it. While PA+ means only some UVA protection, PA+++ represents high UVA protection.
- Physical, rather than chemical: Physical sunscreens create a powerful barrier between your skin and harmful rays. On the other hand, chemical sunscreens, which are less effective and more dangerous in the long run, rely on chemical reactions to block dangerous UV rays.
Whether you choose sprays or creams, sport or cosmetic, sunscreen should fit the above specifications. For teens, look for an oil-free sunscreen with no pore-clogging ingredients. For small babies or toddlers, use sunscreen specially designed for sensitive skin. You can always ask your doctor, dermatologist or pediatrician for recommendations.
So before you go head to the pool, make sure you've done your research on sunscreens and selected the best options for you and your family members. Slather up before you leave the house - it's actually a good idea to apply sunscreen before you even put on your swimsuit so you can be sure you don't miss any spots. Then enjoy yourself, knowing that you're protected from the sun!