Table of Contents
- What is sunscreen or sun lotion?
- How does sunscreen do and how does it work?
- What should you look for in sunscreen?
- Getting a sunscreen based on your skin type
- Should tanning lotion ever be used?
- Is there a case for organic, natural, mineral sunscreen?
- When should a man wear sunscreen?
- How to properly apply suntan lotion
- Concluding remarks
No trend better validates this, currently, than the Sun Care Product market.
As of 2014, Sun Care Products made up 11.7% of all global skin care products. By the year 2020, the global market for Sun Care Products is projected to reach US$11.1 billion. This is mostly in part to the rising awareness of the necessity of sun protection.
As the new products flood the marketplace, it can be hard to “wade through” the wave of Sun Care Products.
Many ask themselves questions such as, “what ingredients do I avoid,” “what SPF rating should I look for,” “what added features (moisturizing, tanning, etc) do I look for,” and “do I need a natural, organic product if I’m wearing the product constantly?”
One of the first things that must be understood when making a suntan lotion/ sunscreen/ sun care product purchase is, what actually is suntan lotion or sunscreen?
What is sunscreen or sun lotion?
First, there is a difference between suntan lotion and sunscreen, technically. If one looks closely they don’t see products on the market claiming to be suntan lotions anymore.
Suntan lotion, semantically speaking, is a sunscreen with an SPF of less than 15. To not confuse the average consumer, technical suntan lotion has shifted over to the term tanning lotion. These typically have an SPF under 10 and do not provide true sun protection, in particular for kids.
Some tanning lotions, exclusively for tanning, do not even contain the basic ingredients of sunscreen and often include a tanning accelerator.
While, most often, suntan lotion and sunscreen are still used synonymously and no one of us should be faulted for that, it should be remembered a lotion of at least 15 (preferably 30) or sunscreen is the only men’s body lotion that provides sufficient sun protection. Since most people still use the term suntan lotion to mean sunscreen, this article will use suntan lotion and sunscreen as synonyms and tanning lotion to refer to technical “suntan lotion.”
When picking out the best sunsblock for men possible or “suntan lotion,” SPF or Sun Protection Factor refers to two things; the theoretical amount of time one can stay out in the sun without getting sunburned and the protection provided against UVB rays.
The reason SPF has a specific number attached with it is it serves as the amount of time one could stay in the sun without being burned.
For example, and SPF of 15 will allow a person to stay in the sun 15 times longer than one could stay in the sun without. If one burns at 10 minutes, theoretically, they could remain outside for 150 minutes before being burned. SPF, which many people think should be capped at 30, doubles as a number that dictates the percentage of protection from UVB rays.
SPF 30 protects against 97% of UVB rays compared to SPF protecting 93%. Any number above 30 offers minimal differences to the 97% protection as it is impossible to, healthily, block all the UVB rays.
How does sunscreen do and how does it work?
Sunscreen works as chemicals screen the sun (hence the name) by filtering the sun’s rays. This differs from a sunblock that blocks the sun physically. It reflects the sun rather than filters it.
Ultraviolet rays from the sun hit skin at wavelengths ranging somewhere between 290 to 400 nanometers. These waves include both UVA and UVB radiation, though UVB, with wavelengths 290 to 320 nanometers, is thought to serve a bigger threat. These are the rays responsible for burning the skin.
The energy contained within that radiation is diverted somewhere. If skin isn’t protected by sunscreen, it goes into the fat and proteins in the skin. This creates are reaction which generates free radicals, which damage one’s cellular machinery, now neglecting its core DNA. The body responds to this damage with an inflammatory response. The blood vessels underneath the skin dilate and turn the red tone affectionately called sunburn. Simultaneously, the immune system responses by releasing large amounts of proteins called cytokines to respond to the burnt skin. Cytokines are the source of pain anyone who’s dealt with a significant sunburn have felt when something touches the skin.
Another response that must be considered is the sun radiation introduces mutations to the skin’s’ cell DNA. As they replace the skin cells, every 28 days, mutations are often passed along. These mutations are the source of cancer.
Proper sunscreen applications serves as a mechanism to prevent or drastically slow down this entire process by dispersing that energy.
What should you look for in sunscreen?
1. Active Ingredients
These ingredients are called such as they are biologically active. In layman’s terms, they are ingredients that do the most work for what the sunscreen is intended to do. They absorb and/or reflect the sun’s rays.
This is a frequently used active-chemical ingredient. It infiltrates the skin’s surface and helps absorb harmful rays.
If avobenzone is a primary active ingredient make sure ingredients such as octocrylene and octisalate are also present. These serve to stabilize avobenzone so that it sustains its effectiveness. Sunscreens such as Neutrogena contain Helioplex, which is a fancy name for a technology that stabilizes as well.
It’s worth noting that a study, made public in 2015, revealed that another active ingredient, Oxybenzone, was found to be a major contributor to widespread coral bleaching. This chemical has caused damage to the undersea environment.
Oxybenzone is different than Avobenzone and no negative links have been attached to the latter.
3. Zinc oxide or titanium dioxide
These actives are physical compounds and work by reflecting the sun. These are a good choice for those with more sensitive skin. Both of these compounds are considered mineral active ingredients and used by many organic brands.
4. Broad-spectrum coverage
Most lotions have transitioned into this type of coverage. The term simply means that the product protects against both UVB and UVA rays.
Recent studies have proven, while UVB rays burn the skin, UVA can cause age-related damage. Both of these rays can lead to skin cancer.
5. Water resistance
The FDA only grants a water resistant label if the SPF protection is maintained for at least 40 minutes of swimming or sweating.
Very water resistant or very sweat resistant is given to those with protect for at least 80 minutes of water influence. It is best to buy a sunscreen with a water resistance as being outside commonly triggers sweating.
After making sure that the sunscreen has the three above features, one can begin to customize their purchase for their particular needs or skin type.
Getting a sunscreen based on your skin type
Sunscreen for Dry Skin or Face
It’s a common misconception that dry skin is usually due to an underlying disease.
Dry skin often occurs from factors unrelated to a disease. Things that dry the skin include dry environment, frequently washing of face or hands, dehydration, swimming in a pool with high chlorine levels, or constant sun exposure. When buying sunscreen with dry skin it is best to look for a moisturizer containing SPF.
Moisturizers are complex mixtures of chemical agents specially concocted to make the epidermis or outer layer of skin softer and more pliable. They work to hydrate the skin by reducing evaporation just like a man’s hand cream does for dry hands.
Good moisturizers for men often contain natural skin lipids and sterols and artificial and natural oils. Ingredients to look for in an effective moisturizer include:
This product is found naturally in grapes and sugarcane. It is popular due to its effectiveness on all skin types. Glycolic Acid exfoliates while attracting moisture to skin and replenishing hydration throughout the day.
Aloe Vera is the most common treatment for sunburn, but doubles as a moisturizer. It soaks in quickly and works well with the most sensitive of skin.
For those with really dry skin, lactic acid as an ingredient in daily moisturizer is a must have. This product is in most prescription lotions and those labeled anti-aging. It heals and seals in moisture.
Similar to Glycolic Acid, this is made from natural products like vegetable oil. It attracts moisture into the skin and retains and preserves that moisture.
This product may be the best on the market to heal, hydrate, and plump the skin.
Triglycerides (macadamia oil and cocoa butter)
This serves the skin because it provides lightweight, non-greasy barrier that penetrates and conditions the skin.
High Quality Option: MD Solar Sciences: Daily Anti-Aging Moisturizer SPF 30
- Contains a 24 hour time release formulation for moisture infusement all day
- 9 powerful wrinkle fighting antioxidants
- Loaded with helpful vitamins and moisture enhancers
Affordable Option: Dove Men + Care Hydrate Face Lotion SPF 15
- Lower than the recommended SPF 30 at SPF 15 but locks in moisture well
- Prevents skin damage and works really well on sensitive skin
Always seek medical attention if skin doesn’t improve after several weeks of at home moisture treatments, if it has a deep red tone, interferes with sleeping, turns into open sores, or has large areas of scaling or peeling.
Sunscreen for the Oily Skin or Face
Skin has sebaceous glands that secrete oils that work to moisturize the skin and keep it looking healthy.
When skin is oily, the sebaceous glands become overactive and secrete more sebum oil than necessary. This sebum accumulates giving the skin a heavy, thick texture which feels greasy or oily. If care is not given to the skin, blemishes, pimples and clogged pores occur.
One positive for those with oily skin, the skin tends to have less premature aging and wrinkling. Oily skin is usually due to many factors. These include genetics, diet, cosmetic products, hormones and pregnancy.
Treatment for this skin should occur it two distinct ways. One must, first, remove the excess oil, then decrease the production of oil. Look for a fast drying, light oil-free formula.
High Quality Option: EltaMD UV Pure Broad-Spectrum SPF 47 Oil Free
- Purely natural active ingredients
- Zinc Oxide and Titanium are main protectors that don’t add additional oil to skin
- Gentle and very water resistant
Affordable Option: Neutrogena Oil-Free Moisture With Broad Spectrum SPF 35
- Allergy-tested and Hypoallergenic
Most sunscreens have a moisturizing core meaning most people don’t need an application of pure moisturizer throughout the day. Since sunscreen provides enough moisture, there is no need to layer moisturizer underneath it.
Sunscreen for Aging Skin or Face
Skin interacts with many difficult forces as one ages. How the skin ages depends, largely on several factors: lifestyle, diet, heredity, and personal habits.
Take smoking, for instance, it produces free radicals makings the once healthy oxygen molecules unstable. These free radicals damage cells and lead to wrinkles and premature aging. Still, exposure to sun is the single biggest culprit in aging skin.
Over time, the sun’s UV rays damage certain fibers in the skin called elastin. As these fibers break down, skin begins to droop, stretch, and lose its ability to restore itself after stretching. The skin becomes more brittle, bruises and tears much easier all while greatly increasing the needed healing time.
Many don’t realize the damage done to skin at a young age but clearly see the results later in life. It is said that up to 90% of the visible skin changes linked to aging are attributed to sun exposure. These linked to UV exposure include crow’s feet, dark circles, and loss of skin elasticity.
High Quality Option: La Roche-Posay Anthelios 50 Daily Anti-Aging Primer With Sunscreen
- Great protection from UVB and UVA rays
- Prevents free radical damage
- Non greasy and fragrance free.
Affordable Option: Neutrogena Age Shield Face Oil-Free Lotion Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 110
- 6 layers of deep skin shielding from UVA rays
- Combats sun-induced free radical damage
- Skin conditioners hydrate and replenish skin
Should tanning lotion ever be used?
It is worth reminding tanning without lotion is like going for a long unguided walk in the woods. It may feel like fun at first, but as time goes on, one gets lost and realizes this may have not been a wise decision.
Remember, being in the sun has positive effects (mood, Vitamin D, etc) but overexposure and lack of protection can cause serious problems. For this reason, tanning lotion without sunblock of SPF 15 or SPF 30 should never be used outside.
What about indoor tanning in a tanning bed? For tanning in a bed, a person should look for a tanning lotion labeled hypoallergenic and loaded with vitamins. This will help prevent damage as the skin dries out under the lamps in the tanning bed.
Tanning lotion over sunscreen is recommended for indoor tanning.
Is there a case for organic, natural, mineral sunscreen?
The rationale used is, “I eat organic, so I need to only put organic sunscreen on my skin.” So one must ask themselves, what are the true benefits of natural, organic, mineral sunscreen? Here are the common arguments made:
Natural sunscreen becomes effective on contact.
When normal sunscreen is applied, one must wait at least 15 minutes before it properly protects from the sun. This is due to the active chemical ingredients needing to sink down into the various layers of skin to become active. These natural and mineral ingredients usually sit on top of the skin so they are immediately effective.
Natural sunscreen reflects while traditional absorbs.
Since the natural ingredients sit on top of the skin, it works by reflecting sunlight away from the body. Traditional sunscreen absorb a fraction of the sun’s harmful rays into the body.
Natural sunscreen contains no harsh chemicals.
These never contain any hormone-disrupting or environment hindering chemicals (oxybenzone is most often thought at the worst).
This choice can be made at the individual’s own discretion. For a top rated option that falls in the natural category try Clinique for men sunscreen SPF 50. A prior article showed the pros of this sunscreen as:
- Broad Spectrum UVB/UVA Protection (ingredients include Avobenzone)
- Very sweat and water resistant (80 minutes)
- Safe for sensitive skin
- Formula designed for antioxidant purposes
- Contains aloe and cocoa butter
- Prevents early aging, wrinkles and hyperpigmentation
- No questionable ingredients
- Light floral scent
For those less worried about needing a natural, organic, mineral sunscreen, a highly rated lotion is Sun Bum Moisturizing Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30. Please note it does contain oxybenzone and is not recommended for use in the ocean. A prior article showed the assets of this sunscreen as:
- Broad spectrum UVB/UVA protection (ingredients include Avobenzone and oxybenzone)
- Injects skin with Vitamin E which serves as an antioxidant to neutralize free radicals
- Very water and sweat resistant (80 minutes of protection in water)
- Paraben Free
- PABA Free
- Gluten and Vegan Free
- Oil Free
- Photostable (holds up to intense sunlight)
- Great for most with sensitive skin
When should a man wear sunscreen?
Though many men don’t want to hear this, for true skin cancer prevention and other essential skin benefits, men should use a hydrating sunscreen on the face every single day regardless whether they believe they will be outside for long periods of time. Most men refuse to wear sunscreen unless they plan on being outside on a sunny day.
The effects of sun overexposure happens, as well, on overcast days as well. On top of that, most men don’t realize the amount of time the sun interacts with the skin.
A recent study showed in addition to fending off skin cancer, using sunscreen on a daily basis, keeps skin looking years younger. The study used a test group of 900 adults between 25-55 and had half apply sunscreen on heads, necks, arms, and hands every morning (and reapply after showering, sweating heavily, and prolonged exposure to sun). The other half applied sunscreen at their own discretion.
At the study’s conclusion, participants who used sunscreen daily showed 24% less skin aging than those who applied when the felt they needed to.
How to properly apply suntan lotion
1. Thoroughly shake the bottle before use
The ingredients can separate within the bottle and the heavier liquids settle at the bottom. By shaking, it distributes them evenly for optimal results.
2. Try to apply sunscreen before going outside
This aides in complete application to the body and face and allows the lotion to react with the skin. Aim for 15 to 30 minutes for going out.
3. When applying sunscreen use a good amount.
In this case, less is not more. It should entirely cover the skin when being massaged in. Use slightly more than one initially thinks they should.
4. Reuse every TWO hours
This ensures the SPF level is working as designed to. Whenever used in correlation with swimming, apply every time after getting out of the water.
5. Apply to often neglected areas
These include the scalp for many men, toes, ears, etc. If sunscreen can’t be worn on scalp for any reason, try to wear a hat for protection
Walking down the sunscreen aisle at any store can feel overwhelming at first. As one understands what to look for and what to avoid, the process can be much easier.
Remember to look for the ingredients and features stated earlier in the article. Begin with the list of suggested sunscreens and simply pick up and smell for preference. Pick up a tester tube and squirt a small sample to test on a cheek.
The more one enjoys the odor and feel of the lotion, the more often they will use the lotion. This is the most important part of this endeavor so that everyone protects their skin from overexposure to the sun and the number of skin cancer cases and other sun related consequences drastically drops to a less alarming rate.