Ask the Advocates: Sunscreens and Bug Sprays
Our skin is exposed to everything. It's meant to be a barrier to anything that we come in contact with. But the sun's rays and bugs aren't deterred by this natural barrier! We know eczema can make us extra sensitive to triggering ingredients found in sunscreen and bug spray. So, we asked our advocates to share which products they use for sun and environmental protection. Here's what they had to say:
What sunscreen do you use?
- Jeff: I use Sun Bum (mainly for my face) and Banana Boat Ultra Sport (SPF 50) for the rest of my body.
- Liz: Neutrogena. I also use SPF clothes, a hat, and an umbrella.
- Sarah H: Neutrogena or Alba Botanica
- Larissa: Any of Badger Balm's mineral sunscreens. They have one for sensitive skin that I like, though their waterproof one works well too! I also try to wear a hat whenever I am outside for extra protection.
- Terry: Oasis Beauty Oasis Sun Original Healthy Family Sunscreen SPF 30
- Abi: Earthley’s Sun Shield stick. A little goes a long way!
What bug spray do you use?
- Sarah H: Repel Lemon Eucalyptus
- Karen: Avon Skin so Soft liquid spray works well and a deterrent. We haven't used any insecticide types. If a bite does occur, we go straight to any brand of tea tree oil, and we keep several bottles around the house. Tea Tree Therapy has good products. I've also used Emuaid as a topical homeopathic relief for mosquito bites and she tolerates it well too.
- Terry: Goodbye SANDFLY - no DEET, no chemicals, less likely to cause irritation, photosensitivity, or itching
Apply sunscreen frequently
Jeff: Be sure to apply sunscreen it every few hours-- especially if you're swimming! Also, if you have herpes on your face, be sure to apply the sunscreen before you go outside and remember to apply it every few hours.
Zinc oxide and titanium oxide
Noreen: I learned that physical/mineral sunscreens containing zinc oxide and titanium oxide are the safest option because they shield your skin from UV rays. EltaMD sunscreen and Neutrogena SheerZinc are supposedly great options that I have yet to purchase.
It depends on what you're looking for
Sarah H: Finding a good sunscreen can be a nightmare if you're looking for the holy grail: something that won't irritate sensitive skin AND doesn't have any "harmful" ingredients in it. Again, research and trial and error is key. However, in this arena, setting expectations is also important. If you want something that is "completely" safe/natural, you're probably going to be finding one of those white pastes that don't rub in all the way. If you need something that rubs in completely, you'll very likely have to accept a few "not-so-great" chemicals. It's all about finding the best solution that works with your skin and your personal priorities. Also, new products come out all the time, so it never hurts to try something new once in a while.
Using the sun to help eczema
Karen: Jill actually uses the tanning bed and straight-up sunshine as a way to control her eczema. I have questioned it in the past, and she assures me she has talked with her parents and researched it well. The bottom line is that if she does go to the beach with family, they may offer her sun protection. When she's with me, she always says no. She keeps a medium tan in the summer, and rarely, if ever, burns. I question the use of sun and tanning beds, and she outlined it to me just a few days ago. Her logic is quite clear.
Natural products for sensitive skin
Larissa: While getting sunshine is good for your skin and vitamin D levels, it is also still important to use a sunscreen. Finding one that works for you can be a challenge. I've tried probably 25 different varieties of sunscreens - everything from baby brands to sensitive skin lines, drug store companies to dermatologist-recommended brands. Many brands are getting better about creating products for people with sensitive skin, which is great. Personally, I've found that Badger Balm's sunscreens work best for me. They have one for sensitive skin that is gentle, even for flaring skin. It is made from natural, mostly organic and mineral ingredients. You can find them at many health food and grocery stores. Since they are natural they are also reef friendly!
Using baby products
Ashley: Although I am an adult, I enjoy using sun/environmental care products that are for babies. Normally, these products are safe and don’t have all of the hidden ingredients that I tend to find in regular sun care products. My skin tends to pigment very easily so I always like to use sunscreen before I leave my house and re-apply every 2 hours if I’m out in the sun! I prefer using sunscreen lotions versus spray because it tends to cover my skin more fully. But if you enjoy the spray, just be sure that you rub it into your skin well afterward.
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