Stay Sun Safe: Top Sunscreen Tips

Gosh, isn’t summer wonderful? We spent the entire weekend out in the hot hot sun. And remembering some old sun protection habits that we’ve forgotten for the last several long, cold months. We want to enjoy the wonderful outdoorsy-ness of summer, but we want to make sure we’re sun safe. For us, that involves an arsenal of shade, physical coverage, and sunscreens. And we’ve learned a few things along the way. Before you grab the first bottle of goop off the drugstore shelf: Not all sunscreens are created equal, by a long shot. Make sure you check these handy Sunscreen Tips to ensure you have a great – and safe – day in the sun!

Beach Boys by  Emran Kassim

Beach Boys by Emran Kassim

Check The Expiry Date.  That bottle of SPF could very well have been sitting on the shelf since last August, or longer. Sunscreens do degrade over time, meaning an old bottle might be an expensive waste of money – and worse, it won’t do its job to keep you from getting burned.

Check The SPF.  According to WebMD, a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 is not actually double the protection of an SPF 15. SPF 15 product blocks about 94% of UVB rays; an SPF 30 product blocks 97% of UVB rays; and an SPF 45 product blocks about 98% of rays. So after about 30, you’re just adding more substances to your skin for little benefit. Stick to an SPF 30 or 45 for sun-sensitve skin.

Check the bottle. Aerosols are not your friend, for any number of reasons. Aerosols are far less recyclable, packaging-wise. Plus the launching of the sunscreen in to the air means it’s far more easy to inhale it, which you really don’t want to do. Pumps are OK, but the best kind of sunscreen is a cream or liquid in a tube.

Check The Ingredient List.  There are some things in sunscreens that you really, really don’t want on your skin. Oxybenzone, Retinyl Palmitate (also labelled as Vitamin A), Methyldibromo Glutaronitrile (I can’t even spell that one) and others have been indicated in a number of unpleasant things such as cancer, cellular changes, and absorption/residual toxicity in the body. Glech.

Check The Scent. One of the biggest no-nos in any cosmetic type product is fragrance. It’s barely regulated and very often terribly toxic.  The scary thing is, even if it isn’t one of the bad ones, there’s really no way to tell because it only ever says “fragrance” on the label. And it’s almost a guarantee that the fragrance is not actually coconut or banana, but instead a synthetically created scent. Blech. Stick to unscented or less heavily scented products and give the banana split scents a pass.

Check The Environmental Working Group. The EWG releases a sunscreen guide every year, telling you which products are both the safest as well as the most effective. The EWG is a US-based organization, so not all of the products they list are available in Canada (or conversely, some great Canadian products are not listed there). But it’s an excellent resource if you’re wondering if that bottle is the best one for you and your family.   They’ve listed the top Beach and Sport sunscreens as well as the Top Moisturizers containing SPF, and there’s loads of great brands including Alba Botanica, Badger, Kiss My Face and more. Lots of these great blends are available at local businesses as well as at online stores such as and  Terra20.

2 Comments on Stay Sun Safe: Top Sunscreen Tips

  1. hilary
    July 6, 2014 at 4:50 pm (4 years ago)

    I’m wanting to switch to a more green sunscreen but I don’t want a lotion. I really like the aerosol style sunscreens. I haven’t been able to find an eco version. Do you know of any?

    • ecochick
      July 14, 2014 at 7:50 am (4 years ago)

      Hi Hilary,

      Lately I have been trying Honest Company’s Sunscreen Spray – it’s aerosol free. I like it. It’s quite thick, like most physical-block sunscreens, but the spray means you can see where it goes and you can ensure it’s covering adequately. It does need more rubbing in if you don’t want it to appear white on your skin. That part doesn’t tend to bother me, seeing it reassures me the sunscreen is actually there. Let me know if you try it and what you think!


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