Sunscreen 101

My husband LOVES to research things that he's curious about.  He's the guy I go to when I'm trying to decide between two products or trying to figure out the hows and whys of the world.  Given that we're headed to a warm place in the warm (and rainy season), he's recently turned his attention to sunscreen.

Our favorite choice for sunscreen, since our kids were infants, has been Badger.  It's regularly rated a 1 on the Environmental Working Group site.  That's all well and good but on vacation near the equator with five bodies to cover, we would need to take out a small loan just to afford enough Badger for all of us for two weeks.  Paul was also curious about Badger because it's seemed a bit inconsistent lately.  He and my middle daughter both got a mild sunburn over the Fourth of July while the rest of us were unscathed.

Perhaps knowledge about sunscreen is universal and I'd just never known about it, but I was astonished at the info.  We were lucky enough to get a presentation on it from my darling husband, but here's what we learned.

There are three types of "rays" that come from the sun - UVA, UVB and IR.  UVB rays are the rays that contribute to the outer layer of your skin looking red and feeling sore.  UVB rays penetrate just the outer layer of your skin.  UVA rays are the "aging" rays which can penetrate deep into the layers of your skin and cause premature aging, contributing to wrinkles, irregular spots and skin cancer.  IR rays are the heat you feel.  IR rays come from the sun, but are also what you feel when you're sitting in front of a campfire.  As soon as someone moves in front of you, the heat is no longer felt.  The same is true of IR rays from the sun.  As soon as there's a barrier, they're no longer felt.

Two types of sunscreen exist - chemical and mineral.  Badger and many of the highly rated sunscreens on the EWG are mineral sunscreens.  The way that these work is that they form a PHYSICAL BARRIER on your skin to the sun's rays.  This is important, at least it was for me.  When you're using mineral sunscreens, the more white you are after application, the better it will work!  I remember being told - You have to rub it in!