Last August I spent 10 days in Hawaii on my honeymoon. While visiting, 90% of my time was enjoyed outside in the sun. Being the Millennial that I am, I assumed I was invincible to any skin damage and chose not to wear my sunscreen.
I was wrong. I had developed a deep, red sunburn on my nose. It was not drastic, nor alarming, but it was painful. It healed and I forgot all about it until this February when I was on a beach trip with my mom and sister. During our three day vacation, only one day was spent on the beach due to the weather. I wore my sunscreen, but did not reapply or pay attention to the type of sunscreen I was using.
The following week I noticed I had red, blister-like bubbles appearing on my nose–in the same spot my painful sunburn had been in August. The blisters got worse and eventually the entirety of my nose turned to a scab. I was freaked out and visited my dermatologist in Nashville. She examined it and told me because of the scabbing she could not give me any answers and I would have to come back to test for skin cancer. Like anyone, this immediately freaked me out. I began asking questions about proper suntan lotion and what brands she recommended. She proceeded to tell me that it’s not so much the brand, but the contents in the lotion that are important. “To fully protect skin that is exposed to the sun, your sunscreen must have at least 6% zinc oxide in it,” she said.
In simple terms, she explained that it’s the type of sunscreen that lifeguards wear in movies–you know the kind where their nose looks like a blanket of snow? My dermatologist insisted that science has come a long way and that wellness brands have developed new methods to use the same ingredients without having a thick white coating.
I began to question everything I thought I knew about sunscreen. “So, SPF 4 and SPF 100 are basically ‘protecting’ you the same way if they don’t have at least 6% zinc oxide in it?” CORRECT! (according to my dermatologist)
After my appointment, I drove straight to Walgreens and searched the shelves for a sunscreen with at least 6% zinc oxide. I couldn’t believe it–of all the brands, options, and SPF levels there was only one, yes, one bottle that fit the criteria. It was Neutrogena SheerZinc Dry-Touch Sunscreen, SPF 50. On the back of the bottle it read 21% zinc oxide.
It has been almost a month now since I started using this lotion and I have not had any burn to my nose. The cost is a little more than the go-to brands most of us are accustom to purchasing, but I promise–it’s worth it!
I am no stranger to the sun, and I thoroughly enjoy sitting on the beach with my face to the sky for eight hours straight, but I am going to be extra careful now–no damage to my skin is worth it.
What sunscreen brands do you recommend for the best all-around protection? Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to share!
*Note: I am not a medical professional, nor do I verify that the information provided is the best for YOUR health & well-being. All information shared is from the knowledge of one Nashville-based doctor and my own personal experiences. Ask your dermatologist and/or doctors for personal medical advice and questions.