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We’re cruising into summer here in the Pacific Northwest and we’re excited for a season of outdoor fun under blue, sunny skies. While we wear some form of sunscreen all year, we definitely step up our sun protection game during the summer months when the days are longer and the sun is stronger. Beyond defending your skin from sunburn, using sunscreen daily dramatically reduces the chances of developing skin cancer and slows down signs of premature aging received from ultraviolet exposure. In this week’s blog, we’re taking a closer look at different types of sun protection and offering our best tips for how you can practice safe sun all summer long.

Chemical Sunscreens vs. Mineral Sunscreens

There are two main types of sunscreens available: those that protect the skin by absorbing the sun’s rays (commonly called chemical sunscreens) and those that reflect the sun away from your body (referred to as physical or mineral sunscreens). If the term chemical sunscreen has you cringing, you’re not alone. These formulas use chemical compounds that, after absorbing into your skin and bloodstream, create a reaction that converts radiation into heat, which is then released from the skin. Chemical sunscreens are effective sun protectants, but do so unnaturally and at the cost of your health and our environment. The most common active ingredients in chemical sunscreens are suspected endocrine disruptors for humans and also have been shown to cause long-term damage to coral reefs and other marine life when washed off our skin.

Whatever happened to just sitting in the shade or covering your skin to avoid overexposure to the sun? Enter mineral sunscreens. These sunscreens use natural minerals to create a physical barrier on the skin, with minerals like zinc oxide acting as a filter that reflects sunlight away from the body before it can be absorbed. Unlike chemical sunscreens, mineral sunscreens are not absorbed into the skin or bloodstream, posing no threat to human health. In addition, mineral sunscreens have no known connection to coral bleaching or other adverse environmental impacts. Every sunscreen we carry uses non-nano zinc oxide as its active ingredient to form a chemical-free sun barrier on the skin, safely scattering the sun’s rays away from your body. Non-nano zinc oxide is a beautiful broad-spectrum sun protectant (broad-spectrum means it protects from UVA and UVB sun rays) and according to Tricia Trimble of Suntegrity, can even soothe skin irritation and help with acne.

Apply Early & Reapply Often

When it comes to mineral sunscreens, less is not more. Because these sunscreens protect by forming a physical barrier on the skin, be thorough in your application to ensure you have adequate protection on exposed areas. Apply your favorite mineral sunscreen to your face, neck and decolletage after your daily moisturizer has absorbed. Give the sunscreen around 15 minutes to set before applying makeup or heading outside into the sunshine.

Looking for an all star multitasker? One of our year-round favorites (and a W&W bestseller) is Suntegrity’s Impeccable Skin with SPF 30. This medium coverage formula combines sun protection, makeup and beauty boosting skincare all in one product. Also check out our newest clean beauty SPF 30 Odacité Sun Guardian.

The FDA recommends sunscreen should be reapplied every 2 hours, or every hour if swimming or sweating. We say use your best judgment when it comes to sunscreen and sun exposure. Paddleboarding on the river at high noon? Reapply every hour. Brunching with friends on a covered patio under your chicest floppy hat? You’re probably good to get through the afternoon without another dose of SPF.

Beyond applying sunscreen, there’s plenty of other ways you can safely enjoy the sun this summer. Accessorize with hats and sunglasses and get creative with your summer fashion, opting for pieces that cover the skin with lightweight, breezy fabrics. You’ll also go a long way in protecting your skin by limiting the amount of sun exposure you receive between 11:00 and 3:00, when the sun’s rays are the most intense.