The Skinny on Skin Care & Sun Safety

Skip the Sunburn and Spare your Epidermis.

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As a beach enthusiast, sun-lover, and Big Mike’s instructor, I know I get a little more sun exposure than average. That’s why I take extra care to protect my skin from sun damage—I want to be able to keep enjoying the activities I love! The best ways to protect your skin from the sun are:

  • Avoid sun exposure, especially between 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. when the sun’s rays are the most intense.
  • Find shade whenever possible.
  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and clothing that covers your skin. You can even find workout gear that is moisture wicking and provides UV protection!

According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), sunscreen should not be your first line of defense, but rather a last resort. However, unless you are a vampire or otherwise plan on staying in a dark room all day, adding a good sunscreen to your morning routine—especially if you live in a sunny place like Southern California—is probably a good idea. I slather on sunscreen almost every morning, but especially on days when I teach Big Mike’s Boot Camp out on the beach. I think it’s worth spending a little extra money to find a quality sunscreen and making it a habit to wear every day.  Here are some tips to remember when looking for a good sunscreen:

  1. Choose a mineral sunblock; first choice is zinc oxide, second choice titanium dioxide.
  2. Shoot for SPF no higher than 50. Why...?
  3. Stick with lotions and sticks; stay away from sprays and powders. Think about it—do you really want to inhale those chemicals into your lungs?
  4. Steer clear of any skin product with retinyl palmitate (a form of Vitamin A). Though advertised as an “antioxidant,” vitamin A and it’s various forms may actually increase sun-sensitivity and lead to skin damage. Read more… Note: Do not confuse retinyl palmitate with retinoids—a class of molecules containing potent anti-aging properties. Retinoid products are sometimes used as part of a corrective skin regimen. The efficacy of retinoid products (retin-A, tretinoin, etc.) is supported by scientific research, however, they must only be applied at night, and users must avoid sun exposure as much as possible.
  5. Avoid oxybenzone, and other chemicals like avobenzone, octinoxate, and homosalate.
  6. Still wondering “Why...?” Consult EWG's 2017 Guide to Sunscreens to find out more or to find a great product for you.

 

Top Sunscreen Picks

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All Good SPF 30 Sport Sunscreen Lotion (Amazon.com)

Cost: $$

What I like about it: Excellent score on EWG, zinc-only sunblock, coral reef friendly, non-greasy, easy to apply and blends in well, has a subtle pleasant smell due to all-natural ingredients like aloe, green tea, and jojoba.

Best suited for: Anywhere! I like to use it on: ears, back of the neck, backs of the hands, forearms, and lower legs.



 

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Broad Spectrum SPF 50 Mineral Sunscreen Stick (Trader Joe’s)

Cost: $$

What I like about it: contains natural skin moisturizers like coconut and avocado, zinc-only sunblock

Best suited for: Face, lips, front of the neck.





 

Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF 50 (Skinceuticals)

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Cost: $$$

What I like about it: Natural tint adapts to your skin tone without a white cast. Subtle enough to wear every day to work or other daytime events. Mineral-only sunblock (zinc and titanium).

Best suited for: Face and neck

 

For more great options, check EWG's 2017 Guide to Sunscreens; an extensive and easy-to-use resource!