When it comes to sunscreen, we all know the drill. After all, we live in Florida where the sun shines most of the year and our beach season can start as early as February. We know that you’re supposed to use a short glass (or ounce) full of broad spectrum sunscreen and reapply every two hours (whether people choose to follow those rules is another story).
However, a new study shows that, clearly, not all sunscreens are created equally.
Sunscreens can be divided into two groups: physical and chemical.
Physical sunscreens block the harmful rays before they reach your skin by coating the skin. If you look at the list of ingredients on the label, you’ll see the minerals zinc and titanium. Chemical sunscreens, on the other hand, penetrate your skin and filter and absorb the harmful rays. These sunscreens contain ingredients like avo- or oxy-benzone, mexoryl and salates.
In the consumer reports testing, the two different kinds of sunscreen were evaluated after being put in water. It was discovered that after being immersed in water the physical sunscreen tends to wash off and dilute. The chemical sunscreens, on the other hand, absorbed into the epidermis and provided longer-lasting protection.
This doesn’t mean to toss your favorite brands… even if it is a physical sunscreen!
Physical sunscreens still work well when you’re out in the sun, they just aren’t as effective for water activities.
To compensate, try bumping up the SPF. Also start applying your sunscreen at home before heading to the beach to give it plenty of time to dry. Make sure you reapply after you get out of the water, as well!
Make sure you’re applying physical sunscreens to children over the age of six months. The Environmental Working Group has concerns about certain ingredients in chemical sunscreens that could affect the hormones in children. Children under six months should be kept out of the sun altogether.