Spring is just around the corner, and with it comes the return of hours in the sunshine. While it’s hard waiting for the days of picnics in the sun and laying on the beach, our skin can always use a break from the sun’s harmful rays. But, that doesn’t mean staying inside. 

Particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, social distancing outdoors might just be the perfect change in scenery. As we return to warmer weather, keep in mind, our skin’s health shouldn’t interfere with our happiness. The solution: sunscreen. While there’s no excuse for ignoring the importance of wearing sunscreen, some are undoubtedly better than others. 

Many sunscreens include ingredients that have been seen as harmful to the environment and your body. Ingredients like oxybenzone, octinoxate, homosalate and nanoparticles can act as hormone disruptors or act as allergens for the skin. The best sunscreens have removed these ingredients in order to protect body systems, as well as environmental systems. 

Coral reefs are already in danger due to coastal development, dredging and fishing practices. Sunscreens and other cosmetic products have been damaging the health of coral reefs because of their role in hormone disruption in animals and their impact on the growth of algae. The chemicals, including oxybenzone, can even cause coral death and reduce fertility in marine life.  

When it comes to sun protection factor level, make sure to wear sunscreen above SPF 30. According to Business Insider, sunscreens with an SPF above 50 make such a marginal difference in skin protection they aren’t worth purchasing. In fact, the mentality of having a “stronger” sunscreen may make you stay out in the sun longer without reapplying, causing more sun damage. 

No matter your skin type or pigmentation, sunscreen is an essential part of spending time outside. The best thing for your skin is wearing sunscreen on a daily basis, regardless of your time directly in the sun. Ultraviolet ray exposure is present even on cloudy spring and summer days, making it important to wear sunscreen regardless of whether or not the sun is visible in the sky.

Sunscreen should be partnered with smart sun time. Wearing hats and sitting underneath umbrellas protects your skin without putting so much pressure on sunscreen to block the UV and certain times of the day are better to go out than others. Remember to reapply every two hours, or if your skin ever feels overexposed. 


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