You probably wear sunscreen because you’ve heard from somewhere (or someone) that you should. But just because you’ve also heard that exercise is good for you, doesn’t mean that using any product with the letters “izer” at the end is going to aid you in getting fit. The same goes for sun and skin care products. You’ve got to understand the basics of how something works before you can get the benefit out of it. And since we know you’d rather be out in the sun enjoying yourself than reading, we’re going to make this real simple for you:
Yes, the sun is still good for you (lots of vitamin D). And no, sunscreen is not bad for you. Yes, sunscreen can help maintain your youthful looks (because too much direct sun is bad), and yes, sunscreen can also partially reverse the sun damage that you may already have. Yes, people still get sunburns despite being careful, and yes, there are better ways to soothe that discomfort than others (read further to find out how).
There are both physical and chemical forms of sunscreen. Physical creates a shield that repels the sun rays, while chemical creates a reaction in the skin that changes UV into heat that is released almost as quickly as it is made. And while every sunscreen claims different durations of protection, you really only need to remember three things: One, SPF 30 is the gold standard as far as the minimal protection you need. Two, you should reapply your sunscreen after any activity or when you get out of water, and three, reapply your sunscreen every 2-hours regardless of what the bottle says.
Yeah, we had a couple too, and so we asked expert dermatologist, Dr. Dhaval G. Bhanusali.
Urbasm: Dr. Bhanusali, what would you consider to be the best daily regimen to protect skin from a planned outing in the sun?
Dr. Bhanusali: I would start with a nice, gentle cleanser to remove the debris from a night of sleeping. Next, I would apply a moisturizer with sunscreen of at least SPF 30. I like something on the light side and personally use Aveeno® Positively Radiant® Daily Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 30. It’s great to be able to knock out two birds with one stone. The soy in Aveeno also helps with any dark spots.
Urbasm: What are the benefits of getting ‘a little sun’ versus the consequence of too much?
Dr. Bhanusali: A little sun isn’t a bad thing. It helps with Vitamin D and I genuinely think it helps with a person’s mood. Overdoing, unfortunately, has real world consequences. While getting burns can obviously put you at risk for skin cancers, even moderate extended exposure can lead to lentigo (sun spots) and general sun damage later in life – think dark spots, warty looking lesions (seborrheic keratosis), and more fine lines and wrinkles.
Urbasm: And since we all make mistakes, what is the best home remedy for that rare occasion we do get a sunburn?
Dr. Bhanusali: I have all my patients apply some OTC 1% hydrocortisone to the areas twice a day and also have them apply moisturizer (after storing in the fridge for a bit to help soothe).
Urbasm: How should a man’s skin care regimen change for each season of the year?
Dr. Bhanusali: Generally, I recommend heavier moisturizers during the winter and products containing hyaluronic acid. Neutrogena® Hydro Boost Water Gel is a great one. For the summer, I would go with more light, oil-free products with slightly more exfoliating properties.
Urbasm: What are the key ingredients to a worthy sunscreen?
Dr. Bhanusali: For physical sunscreens, I love zinc and titanium dioxide. For chemical sunscreens, ingredients like avobenzone and oxybenzone are great. But always remember to use at least SPF 30!
Urbasm: What are reasonable expectations for a sunscreen? In other words, can a sunscreen really be sweat/water proof, last for hours, etc.?
Dr. Bhanusali: I think that no matter the claims, reapply once you get out of the pool or after finishing a sweaty workout, and every 2 hours regardless. It’s not worth risking.
Urbasm: What tools can a man use to protect his skin from the sun, beyond sunscreen?
Dr. Bhanusali: Wearing UV protective clothing, hats (especially if you have a shaved head), and staying in the shade when possible.
Urbasm: Simple enough. Thank you very much, Dr. Bhanusali.
Final Word on Sunscreens
Neutrogena has a lot of options when it comes to sunscreen, and while we were in the Florida Keys for some business and pleasure, we put Neutrogena’s SheerZinc, UltraSheer and CoolDry Sport to the test, and this is what we found.
SheerZinc Dry-Touch SPF 30
This was our favorite formula. It is light and dry, goes on smooth, has only a slight odor that quickly dissipates, and it kept us from getting pinkish lobster skin during the duration of our stay – which made us happy. It is water resistant for the most part, and we’d concur based on not having it run into our eyes while sweating in the sweltering heat of the mid-day. This is an affordable option that you can put on during your morning ritual, and pretty much forget you have it on (until you need to reapply it, of course), and it gets the job done without making a fuss, or making you fuss (due to greasy skin and burning eyes).
UltraSheer Dry-Touch SPF 55, 70, 85, & 100+
The UltraSheer is definitely lightweight and non-greasy, and it stays that way until the sweat starts to pour from your skin, but even then it doesn’t seem to irritate eyes or sensitive skin. We did prefer the lotion version, although the face & Body stick is a lot more convenient to throw on if you’re on the run. This is a good option for anyone looking for a higher dose of SPF, but if you’re going to be playing hard in the sun, we’d probably opt for the CoolDry Sport.
The one area where every sunscreen fails is blocking the sun so well that it actually keeps your body cool. And while this will not make you any cooler than you would be without it, you have to keep in mind that some heavy physical sunscreens prevent sweat from properly evaporating off your skin. The result of this is heat buildup and the possibility of becoming a real grump on your vacation. This is a problem you won’t have with the CoolDry SPF 50+, as we think it is the lightest formula in either spray or lotion form (but particularly spray). In fact, it is easy to forget other than having a slightly stronger odor than the Sheer – but it isn’t a bad odor, so we did not mind it.
To reiterate what we’ve learned: SPF 30 is the gold standard, reapply after getting wet (including sweat) and apply every 2-hours regardless of what the bottle/tube says.
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