How do I choose the right sunscreen for the beach?

Megan Smith
 min read

How do I choose the right sunscreen for the beach? Factors to consider when buying sunscreen include SPF factor, longevity, sun filter, mist or cream, anti-aging or anti-spot, and organic or natural.

How do I choose the right sunscreen for the beach?Is it possible to protect yourself from the sun while still enjoying it? Yes!

Find a good product, the correct protection factor, the texture that suits you best, and above all, how to apply your sun protection effectively.

This blog post will answer the most often asked questions about sunscreen.

After reading this, you’ll be ready to hit the beach safely protected from the sun’s harmful rays.

Tip: If you’re also looking for a good heavy-duty beach chair, be sure to check out these top beach chairs for plus-size folks.

How do I choose the right sunscreen for the beach? Introduction

Exposure to the sun can be dangerous if our skin is not protected correctly, especially because of the sun’s ultraviolet rays (UVA and UVB).

These harmful rays are responsible for sunburns and premature aging of the skin.

It is sometimes challenging to find the way through the sun protection aisles!

Multiple criteria come into play when choosing the best sun creams:

  • index
  • SPF (Sun Protection Factor)
  • sun cream for children
  • organic sun cream

How do you choose the best sun protection for your skin?

How do I choose the right sunscreen for the beach? Protection factor

The protection factor or SPF corresponds to the amount of UVB the skin will receive.

The Sun Protection Factor (SPF) is mentioned on the packaging of solar products, representing its level of protection.

So, when you choose a solar product, be sure to note the presence of this symbol.

There are 4 categories of protection:

  • low protection: SPF of 6 or 10
  • medium protection: SPF of 15, 20 or 25
  • high protection: SPF of 30 or 50
  • very high protection: SPF of 50+

Beyond index 30, all screens protect well:

  • the index 30 blocks 96.67% of UVB
  • the index 50 blocks 98% of UVB

UVA, UVB: what is the difference?

Solar radiation consists of ultraviolet B rays (UVB rays) and ultraviolet A rays (UVA rays).

UVB rays are the most dangerous: they burn the epidermis and are the main cause of skin cancers, even if UVA rays play a role.

Suppose the SPF is calculated for the amount of UVB. In that case, it also ensures minimum protection against UVA, being at least 1/3 of the SPF (mentioned by the logo UVA in a circle).

The higher the SPF, the higher the UV protection. This is a factor to consider because they induce medium and long-term damage:

  • brown spots
  • premature aging
  • skin cancers

So always remember to check the sun product for the UVA logo in addition to the SPF index.

However, please note that the latter is not mandatory and is not always used by professionals.

Can you tan with an index 50?

Yes! Because no sunscreen product blocks 100% of light rays, the term “sunscreen” has been canceled for some years.

What does it mean when a product has an SPF 50? It means that if you get sunburned in one minute on bare skin, you will burn in 50 minutes protected by this screen.

This does not mean that the skin does not receive any radiation. The UVB rays trigger a rise in melanin. Therefore, sunscreen will only give your skin more time to react.

So slowly but surely, your skin will still absorb UV rays and get a tan.

The effects of sunscreen are often unknown. Its users often think their high SPF will protect them longer, so they reapply their product less frequently.

But this is far from true! It protects you better, but its effects wear out after a while. Conclusion: always reapply!

How do I choose the right sunscreen for the beach? Mist or cream

Airy textures such as mists are easier to use, just mist them generously and reapply often. They have a pleasant finish on the skin, and it’s less restrictive to use them regularly.

In the end, we can be better protected by a mist than by thick milk, which will stick with the sand. We will also be unwilling to apply it several times a day because of its stickiness of sun milk.

Also consider waterproof sun products, tested to withstand two 20-minute baths. In reality, especially with children playing in the sand, the protection doesn’t last as long.

We recommend reapplying the protection after a swim, in addition to a hat and T-shirt.

Sunscreen: can you keep it from one year to the next?

It is not recommended to keep a tube of sunscreen once it has been opened.

Indeed, sunscreens are known to be highly fragile. If the product is left in the sun or in the heat for a long time, it loses its effectiveness.

Especially on vacations, it’s good to keep an eye on your sun lotion. So it’s best to buy a new product in early summer.

How do I choose the right sunscreen for the beach? Sun filter

There are three types of filters (also known as screens):

  • Organic filters which act by absorption and reflection of UV rays
  • Mineral filters work by reflecting UV rays and do not penetrate the epidermis, for example, titanium dioxide and zinc oxide
  • Chemical filters that absorb UV rays

If chemical filters have a bad reputation, it is mainly because of one of them, oxybenzone. This one is very allergenic and has now been withdrawn from the market.

Today, they are highly controlled, so the risk of irritation from a chemical filter is almost zero.

Neither is more effective than the other, although mineral filters are more stable to UV radiation.

The two mineral filters authorized in sunglasses are titanium oxide and zinc oxide. They are recommended for skins allergic to chemical filters.

When the formulas are very fluid and transparent, they are probably used in nano form.

Some people say that this nanotechnology (with ultrafine particles) is able to pierce through the skin.

But many studies show that titanium dioxide-nano does not cross the skin barrier.

The goal for manufacturers is to get products with a wide spectrum, which filter well and last over time.

This result is usually achieved by combining different chemical and mineral filters.

Organic sunscreen, natural sunscreen: what is the difference?

Sunscreen products are often accused of polluting the oceans and destroying coral reefs.

So the question is: Do sunscreen products really contribute to marine pollution and coral bleaching?

The debate is complex because no study can be conducted in the natural environment.

On one side, it would not be very ethical because corals are animals.

On the other side, so many other factors are involved that it is impossible to specify the role of each.

The main factors are intensive fishing, global warming, and global pollution.

To be on the safe side, we can choose cleaner products made by laboratories that made an effort to create a non-polluting product.

This means products with less:

  • filters (4 instead of the usual 7 to 9)
  • non-water-soluble filters that don’t weaken in water
  • silicones and other non-biodegradable ingredients

More and more brands are offering organic sunscreen, made of natural products that are not harmful to the environment.

Anti-aging and anti-spot sun cream, how effective are they?

The main cause of skin aging is the sun. So, a product that protects against the sun already has an anti-aging action.

Sunscreens are said to be “anti-aging” when, in addition to filters, active anti-aging ingredients are added to the formulation.

Marketing argument or real efficiency? It all depends on the quantities.

So let’s take the example of vitamin E, an anti-aging active ingredient. It’s also used to store sunscreens.

If a brand advertises an anti-aging sun cream with this vitamin, you should check the proportions.

Check if vitamin E, often written as tocopherol, is at the end of the list.

In that case, we can assume that it’s just there to protect the active ingredients. It may have an anti-aging effect if it is higher on the list.

Spots are the result of melanin disruption, and the one that stimulates melanin is the sun.

So a sunscreen product is already anti-spot since it blocks the main cause of spot formation: the sun.

Still, some suncare products contain specific active ingredients to fade spots in addition to filters:

  • vitamin C
  • lactic acid
  • viniferine

How do I choose the right sunscreen for the beach? Conclusion

Choosing the right sunscreen depends on many factors which we have discussed in details in this article.

In the end it comes down to a personal preference, but at least now you can make an informed decision after having learned more about:

  • natural or organic sunscreen,
  • spray or mist,
  • anti-aging and anti-spot sunscreen,
  • Sun Protection Factor or SPF index, and
  • sun filters.

Finally, if you only remember one thing from reading this, it should be that wearing any sunscreen is always better than none, and that you need to reapply it often, regardless of its SPF index!

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About Megan Smith

Megan has been fighting overweight and her plus size since her teenage years. After trying all types of remedies without success, she started doing her own research. Megan founded Plus Size Zeal to share her findings. She also developed various detailed buying guides for plus-size people in order to make their lives easier and more comfortable. Read More