best girls mineral sunscreen

Your Mid-Summer Sunscreen Guide!

What you Need to Know About Sunscreen this Summer!

Double-board certified Dermatologist Angela Casey MD shares some practical tips for sun protection this summer! Protecting your skin in your teens and twenties is especially important: these are the years of establishing the foundation of your skin health. Prevention is key to achieving lifelong healthy, glowing, SMART skin.

Here is some sunscreen advice, from Dr. Casey:

When advising patients, I always tell them that the best sunscreen is the one that they are excited to use every day. It's important to be in tune with your individual skin needs and what works best. There is no "one size fits all" regarding the "right" sunscreen. 

When my patients ask for sunscreen recommendations, I lean towards mineral sunscreens. I have found them to be much less irritating than chemical sunscreens, which can "sting or burn" when applied to skin. Also, they play nicely with other topical products, such as retinols and antioxidants, which can predispose the skin to irritation and sensitivity. 

Mineral sunblocks provide broad-spectrum UVA and UVB protection, an essential quality to obtain the most effective sun protection. Not all chemical sunscreens offer this same degree of comprehensive coverage. Also, some chemical sunscreen ingredients can be very irritating to eyes, causing them to sting and burn. That's a big reason why I tend to avoid chemical sunscreens on the face, except for very specific formulas that I know won't irritate the eyes.

The good news is that mineral sunscreens have come a long way in terms of their cosmetic elegance and integration with the skin. The Bright Girl collection offers non-comedogenic sunscreens specifically designed for young skin. Mineral sunscreens with ingredients such as hyaluronic acid and glycerin do double duty in protecting and moisturizing the skin. Powders can be really effective for oily skin as they absorb oil while protecting from UV rays. 

Mineral sunscreen in beach bag

I am a big proponent of using sunscreen/sunblock with an SPF 30 or higher. Studies show that most individuals don't apply enough of the recommended sunscreen amount (2mg/cm2 or a full 1 oz shot glass for the entire body) to render the SPF noted on the label. Therefore, I always tell patients to "aim high" with their SPF. When they use an SPF 40 or above, they are usually applying enough to achieve at least an SPF 25, which is pretty good.

Finally, when I ask a patient about their sunscreen and they tell me "I don't wear a specific sunscreen because my moisturizer/makeup has sunscreen in it," that is not an acceptable answer. Although your face creams or foundation has an SPF 30, most of us are not applying nearly enough of the product to render that SPF rating. 


Let your Dermatologist or Skincare Expert know what Sunscreen you are using

I always ask my patients about all of the products that they are using, including their sunscreens. The next question I ask is "Do you love your sunscreen?" If the answer is "no," we need to understand why, so that I can guide that patient in selecting the best sunscreen for them; one that they are going to look forward to using every day.

Dermatologists should know all of the skincare products that a patient is using; it helps us recommend treatment and provides us with greater understanding of your skin and how it is responding to specific ingredients. I have seen too many patients over the years who have "sensitive skin" and the actual issue is that they are using a product (or products) that is irritating their skin. When we can change out that product and replace it with one that is more appropriate for their skin, the skin settles and performs better. Our skin is so individual; working with your Dermatology provider to look at ingredients, how skincare products work together, and understanding your skin's needs will yield the most successful results. 

Additionally, your dermatologist is your safety net in making sure that you have all of the proper components in your skincare regimen. Understanding the science behind skincare ingredients as well as knowing how your skin works at the molecular level allows your dermatologist to guide you on the path towards your healthiest skin. We can best do that when we have all of the information about your skincare products. 

Teenage skincare requires special consideration. During our tween/teen years, our skin undergoes significant changes secondary to hormone changes in our bodies. Fluctuating hormone levels can lead to oil production and acne lesions; our skin might become dry, oily, or sensitive. As we look at skincare for girls, we must consider the estrogen and testosterone in the body. These hormones, along with stress, sleep, diet, and exercise all impact our skin health. 

Having 3 teen/tween daughters of my own, finding the best spf lotion for girls is a priority! I was seeking a mineral sunscreen for girls, one with zinc as a primary ingredient. Our older daughters love a tinted sunblock for face as this provides a bit of sheer coverage that lets their complexions glow! Our youngest hates any sunscreen with a white cast, so sheer mineral sunscreens are ideal for her.

For consumers who don't have a dermatologist, I recommend Dr. Leslie Baumann's Skin Type Solutions, an online site with an evidence-based algorithm that uses clinical questions to determine your skin type and recommend appropriate products accordingly. 

 Sunscreen in your teens and twenties

How do you know that Your Sunscreen is Working?

One of the first signs of too much sun exposure is a very slight, almost imperceptible pinkening of the skin in fair-skinned individuals. Those with darker skin might notice some mild hyperpigmentation that occurs. Certainly, if you have freckles or melasma, you might notice a sudden "flaring" of these conditions, even with just a short exposure to UV. This can occur even when you have sunscreen in place (see below). 

How, When, and Where to Apply Sunscreen

Always apply sunscreen as the last step in your morning skincare regimen. Make sure that you're applying enough sunscreen to obtain the SPF rating on the bottle: 1/2 teaspoon (or 2 strips of sunscreen along your middle and index fingers) for face and neck; a shot glass for full body.  Reapply before heading outdoors for any activities or after swimming or sweating. Often, we forget to reapply sunscreen after we've been outdoors for a while. Sunscreen active ingredients break down over time and with sun exposure; swimming and sweating can exacerbate this. I recommend reapplying sunscreen every 2 hours.

Don't forget to apply sunscreen along your hairline and in your hair part: this is an area that's often missed, and I see so many skin cancers, especially among young women, in these areas. Be sure to get your ears (front and back), neck (a common area for sun damage), and chest. I prefer to use clear, or untinted, formulations on the neck and chest as the tinted products can stain clothing.

 Is your Sunscreen providing enough SPF?

When getting enough SPF from your sunscreen is a concern, layer your products. For example: apply your moisturizer with sunscreen as you typically do; and then apply a dedicated facial sunscreen product over it. Or apply your facial sunscreen, and then apply your pressed powder with SPF in it. 

I'm a huge fan of hats, sun-protective clothing, and sunglasses. Your hat should be wide-brimmed (the wider, the better), and ideally also be SPF-rated. Clothing should also be SPF rated for measurable benefit, although most clothing is going to provide fairly good sun protection. Sunglasses are a great option because they protect the delicate skin of the eyelids. Eyes are particularly sensitive to many sunscreen ingredients, and it can be tough to find formulations that work well around the eyes. Additionally, the UVA rays of the sun penetrate the cornea of the eye and can lead to cataracts and macular degeneration; sunglasses can help shield your eyes and eyelids from the damaging effects of the sun.

What does SPF actually mean?

SPF (sun protective factor) measures against protection from UVB rays; it does not measure UVA protection. This explains why we often still get a tan (because UVA rays are responsible for the pigment darkening that we see after sun exposure) even when wearing a high SPF sunscreen. SPF measures the relative protection of a sunscreen product by comparing the amount of time that it takes skin to get a sunburn after sunscreen containing SPF has been applied to the skin compared to not wearing sunscreen at all. For example, it would take skin 30 times longer to get a burn when wearing SPF 30 compared to not wearing sunscreen at all.

It's important to distinguish between sunscreens (chemical sun protectants that convert UV light energy into heat that then dissipates from the skin) and sunblocks (physical sun protectants that literally block and scatter UV photons.)

Thanks for taking some time to learn more about sunscreens. Please share this knowledge with friends, family, or anyone that can benefit from healthy skin knowledge!

Smart Skin Starts Now!

--Dr. Angela