Covering the Broad Spectrum
It’s important to note that SPF only pertains to the protection you’re getting from UVB rays, not UVA radiation, which penetrates deeper into the skin, damaging collagen and contributing to premature aging and skin cancer. For that, you need to make sure the sunscreen offers “broad-spectrum” coverage, meaning it blocks both types of rays.
Take a close look at the main compounds in the sunscreen that combat the sun’s rays. “These active ingredients determine how broad spectrum the sunscreen is and also how the sunscreen feels,” says Schaffran. There are two categories of active ingredients: chemical sunscreen ingredients (these absorb UV light) and mineral sunscreen ingredients (these block or reflect UV light). Chemical ingredients include things like avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene and homosalate. The mineral sunscreen ingredients include zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.
“Mineral sunscreen ingredients generally provide better protection and are very broad spectrum, but they tend to be heavier, take longer to rub in and may leave a white finish on the skin,” Schaffran says. “The chemical sunscreen ingredients are easier to formulate in lotions, sprays and gels, but some people find these ingredients to be irritating, especially with more sensitive skin.”
Of special note is the new push to include CBD—a non-psychoactive ingredient found in marijuana and other plants that has been shown to reduce inflammation—into sunscreens. Brands like Divios and Dixie Botanicals have recently come out with CBD-infused sunscreens based on promising initial research. Davis Mersereau, co-founder of Divios, after looking at numerous studies, found that CBD seems like a perfect fit for sunscreens. “It’s going to help with inflammation, because it’s essentially stopping damage before it starts. We’ve also discovered that CBD is rich in antioxidants, which means it’s going to fight free radicals, which are in part caused by UV rays.” (Check out the list below for links to two new CBD sunscreens and see how they work for yourself.)