How to Choose the Best Beach Sunscreen for Your Skin

Using sunscreen is crucial in protecting your skin from sunburn, premature aging, and an increased risk of skin cancer. Applying sunscreen regularly is vital to maintain healthy-looking skin and prevent long-term damage. Find out how to choose the best sunscreen for your skin to use at the beach.

What is the best beach sunblock or sunscreen?

When choosing a sunscreen for a beach day, you should consider several factors to ensure maximum protection. The sunscreen you use should cover broad-spectrum sun protection, have the correct sun protection factor (SPF), and be water-resistant. It is also essential that the sunscreen is suitable for your skin type.

For optimal protection of your skin, look for science-based skin care products.

Look for broad-spectrum protection

Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun can cause significant damage to your skin cells, resulting in premature aging, wrinkles, fine lines, and age spots. When penetrating the skin's surface, UV rays can also increase your risk of skin cancer.

There are two kinds of UV rays you should protect your skin from: UVB rays are responsible for sunburn and play a key role in the development of skin cancer. UVA rays are more intense and can penetrate the skin's deeper layers, causing sunburn, premature aging and also increasing your risk of skin cancer. UVA rays maintain the same level of strength during daylight and all year round, even when it’s cloudy.

It’s therefore important to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen that offers protection against both types of UV rays to help prevent and minimize skin damage.

Choose the correct SPF for the beach

There is a misconception that SPF correlates with the time you can stay in the sun. Rather, it’s the measure of a sunscreen's ability to protect your skin from harmful UVB rays. The higher the SPF, the more protection it provides. For example, sunscreen with SPF 15 filters around 94 percent of UVB, SPF 30 around 97 percent, while SPF 50 blocks around 98 to 99 percent. SPF 30 and above are generally considered the best to use as they provide a high level of protection against UVB rays, reducing the risk of sunburn and skin cancer.

Wearing sunscreen at the beach is particularly important because sand and water reflect the sun's rays, increasing their intensity. This can result in faster and more severe sunburn and damage to the skin. Therefore, it is crucial to use a beach sunscreen with high SPF, such as Cetaphil Sun SPF50+ Gel, and to reapply it regularly to ensure that your skin is well protected.

Think about water-resistance

If you plan on swimming or participating in sports that make you sweat, it's important to use a water-resistant sunscreen. Water-resistant sunscreens are specially designed for resisting the contact with water or sweat and won’t be easily washed away by water or sweat like regular sunscreens. However, even water-resistant sunscreens will only stay on your skin for a certain amount of time.

Consider your skin type

When it comes to choosing the right sunscreen, different skin types have different needs. For those with dry skin, a sunscreen with moisturizing ingredients like glycerin could be beneficial to help hydrate your skin. Those with oily skin may prefer a lightweight, oil-free formula that contributes to excess oil production and is non-comedogenic, which means it won't clog pores.

Fortunately, there are sunscreens available that can address both of these concerns. For example, Cetaphil Sun SPF50+ Gel is a sunscreen that contains moisturizing ingredients like glycerin and hyaluronic acid, making it suitable for dry skin types. At the same time, it has a lightweight, oil-free, non-comedogenic formula, making it appropriate for oily skin as well. In addition, it's designed to be gentle and non-irritating, making it a great choice for those with sensitive skin.

How to best apply sunscreen

Sunscreen should be used daily and not just on beach days, since wearing a sunscreen is the best way to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays. Moisturizers with SPF can also provide some protection, and can be worn underneath makeup, such as Cetaphil Daily Facial Moisturizer SPF 15 and Cetaphil Bright Healthy Radiance Brightening Day Protection Cream SPF15. However, when going to the beach, a sunscreen with low SPF is not recommended, so you should apply a separate sunscreen with at least 30 SPF.

Apply sunscreen 15 to 20 minutes before going out into the sun to give the sunscreen time to be absorbed by the skin and provide the best protection.

You should apply a generous amount of sunscreen to ensure that all exposed skin is covered. People tend to apply only around 30% of the amount of sunscreen that will provide the correct protection. As a general rule, always apply the recommended amount of sunscreen on your body, which is about the amount to fill a shot glass.

For your face, use a tablespoon amount of sunscreen. Gently distribute it on your skin and don’t rub it in too much, because this decreases its efficiency. Make sure to apply sunscreen to the tops of your feet, hands, and any other exposed areas of skin.

When to reapply your sunscreen at the beach

Common advice is to reapply sunscreen every two hours, however this may need to be done sooner if you sweat, jump in and out of the water, or have just removed sand from your body. Don’t forget to reapply water-resistant sunscreen after 40 or 80 minutes of swimming or sweating, depending on the product. It is important to check the instructions for the sunscreen's water-resistance to determine when it needs to be reapplied.

Things to remember - best beach sunscreen

Using sunscreen regularly is important to maintain healthy-looking skin and to help prevent sunburn, premature aging, and skin cancer caused by harmful UV rays. To ensure maximum protection, the best sunblock or sunscreen for the beach should offer broad-spectrum protection against both UVA and UVB rays, be water-resistant, and suit your skin type. You should also consider wearing protective clothing, such as hats, long pants and long-sleeved shirts to help protect your skin from the sun’s rays.


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