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Sunscreen is a summertime staple. But the truth is that daily sunscreen should be a part of your routine all year long. It’s an important part of keeping your family’s skin healthy!

In this article, we’ll go over the important basics of wearing a daily sunscreen: five of the reasons you should do it, tips for choosing a safe and effective sunscreen for everyday use, and three daily sunscreen recommendations.

But before we get there, let’s talk about how sunscreen works so you can have a better understanding of exactly what it is that you’re putting on your (and your little one’s!) skin.

Table Of Contents

How Sunscreen Works

To explain how sunscreen works, we need to go over UVA and UVB rays, the ingredients in sunscreen, and SPF.

The Differences Between UVA And UVB Rays
 Sun shinning through trees to a hiking trail

The sun emits three types of rays: UVA, UVB, and UVC. The UVC rays don’t even make it to the earth, so we won’t even talk about those.

What we are left with are UVA and UVB rays, and your skin needs to be protected from both of them!

UVA rays can make their way deeper into your skin and are capable of going through glass. These rays can leave you with premature skin aging (fine lines, wrinkles, and the like) and long-term skin damage.

UVB rays are the ones that give you a bronze tan (or a red burn!) and help your body make Vitamin D. But they can also cause skin cancer and cataracts.

Sunscreen Ingredients

How does sunscreen protect your skin from those UVA and UVB rays?

A sunscreen’s inactive ingredients are the components that give the sunscreen its texture or scent. The active ingredients are what do the heavy lifting of warding off the sun’s rays.

The best way to explain how the active ingredients work is to divide sunscreen into two categories: chemical sunscreen and mineral sunscreen.

Chemical Sunscreen Active Ingredients

Chemical sunscreens use chemicals, such as octinoxate or oxybenzone, to protect your skin from UVA and UVB rays. When the sun’s rays hit your sunscreen-covered skin, a chemical reaction absorbs the rays so that they don’t damage your skin.

Other chemical sunscreen active ingredients include:

  • Avobenzone
  • Homosalate
  • Octisalate
  • Octocrylene

Mineral Sunscreen Active Ingredients

Pictogram of Chemical Sunscreen vs Mineral Sunscreen

Just as chemical sunscreens use chemicals to protect your skin, mineral sunscreens use minerals to protect your skin. A mineral sunscreen physically reflects and deflects the rays of the sun.

It’s a bit easier to keep track of these active ingredients because there are only two: zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Most mineral sunscreens only use zinc oxide, but you may also see titanium dioxide listed as an active ingredient or a combination of the two.

We can’t talk about zinc oxide without mentioning the term “non-nano.” To understand what it means and why it’s a good thing, let’s start with “nano,” which is a unit of measurement. One nanometer is one-billionth of a meter, and nanoparticles are smaller than 100 nanometers.

The bottom line: Nanoparticles are very, very small. Non-nano particles are not as small.

What does this have to do with sunscreen ingredients? Teeny-tiny nanoparticles can end up in your bloodstream. And that is not what you want.

So, the moral of the story is that non-nano zinc oxide particles are bigger than their nano counterparts and, therefore, safer for you.

Understanding SPF

What about that SPF (sun protection factor) number you always see on your bottle of sunscreen?

The Skin Cancer Foundation note, “The number tells you how long the sun’s UVB rays would take to redden your skin if you apply the sunscreen exactly as directed compared with the amount of time without sunscreen.”

That means if you use an SPF 15 sunscreen, it would take you 15 times longer to burn than if you didn’t use sunscreen at all.

Just keep in mind that no sunscreen protects you from 100% of the sun’s rays, which is why protective clothing is also very important when you spend lots of time in the sun!

Young girl applying daily sunscreen

Now that you know a bit more about the sun and how your sunscreen does its job, let’s go over five reasons that sunscreen is not only for the summer months and pool days. We think you’ll be convinced.

5 Reasons To Wear Sunscreen Daily

Mustela daily sunscreen next to child on blanket

1) The Sun Shines All Year Long

We’re here to let you in on a big secret: The sun shines all year long! Of course, the sun’s rays are stronger during the spring and summer months, but it’s shining down on us all 12 months of the year.

You might not be out in your swimsuit soaking up the rays, but the sun is shining and you’re going about your life — inside and outside — every day.

That means to some degree, your skin is exposed to the sun’s rays no matter the season. A little unprotected sun exposure here and a little there adds up and can damage your skin over time.

Depending on where you live, it might not seem like the sun shines all year! Maybe where you live, the cold months are cloudy and overcast. That brings us to our next point.

2) UV Rays Reach Your Skin Regardless Of Weather

Three woman doing yoga while being protected by daily sunscreen

Cloud cover can have some effect on the UV rays, but it’s a mistake to automatically think that you’re completely safe from the sun on cloudy days.

According to The Skin Cancer Foundation, “Even when it’s cloudy, up to 80 percent of the sun’s UV radiation reaches the earth. Going unprotected on an overcast day can lead to skin damage.”

This is another reason it’s a good idea to get in the habit of donning your daily sunscreen. You’ll be prepared for rain or shine!

3) UVA Rays Go Through Glass

OK, sunscreen every day, even when it’s cloudy. Got it. But at this point, you may be wondering about the days that you don’t even step foot outside.

Remember those UVA rays from the sun? They can pass right through glass and make their way to your skin.

That means you can be exposed to UVA rays just by sitting inside near a window. This also applies to travel. Think of buses, trains, and cars (though windshields are typically treated to ward off the rays).

4) Your Skin Can Be Damaged Over Time

The last thing we want to mention is that sunscreen isn’t just to protect you from sunburn. A sunburn sure is painful and does damage your skin, but it’s not only the burns that cause damage.

It’s also important to realize that even if you don’t burn easily, sun exposure can still do a number on your skin over time.

As we mentioned earlier, repeated, unprotected exposure to the sun adds up and can leave you with sunspots, fine lines, wrinkles, or skin cancer down the road.

To prevent long-term sun damage in you and your little one, follow these tips:

  • Wear protective clothing when outside
  • Protect your eyes with sunglasses
  • Limit your time in the sun
  • Avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. if possible
  • Skip the tanning session (indoor or outdoor)
  • Keep babies under six months old out of direct sunlight

    Woman walking dog while being protected by daily sunscreen

    5) It Forms A Habit

    The last reason to wear daily sunscreen is simply that it forms a habit. If it’s part of your routine, you’ll be sunscreened up and ready for any unexpected adventure that comes your way.

    For example, maybe you expected a day in the office but your coworkers want to eat on the patio of their new favorite restaurant. If you have sunscreen on, you won’t have to worry about burning.

    With these five reasons in mind, are you ready to hop on the daily sunscreen train? Let’s talk about what to look for when choosing one.

    What To Look For In A Daily Sunscreen

    Your family’s daily sunscreen should be effective at protecting your skin from the sun, but it’s also important that it’s safe for your skin and the rest of your body.

    Look for the following when choosing sunscreen!

    Broad-Spectrum Protection

    For a sunscreen to effectively protect your skin, it needs to ward off both UVA and UVB rays. This is what “broad-spectrum” refers to.

    A broad-spectrum sunscreen contains active ingredients that will block both types of rays. Simply check the sunscreen packaging or bottle to see if it is broad-spectrum.

    Hypoallergenic Formula

    It’s essential for a good daily sunscreen to keep you safe from the sun. But for anyone with sensitive or easily irritated skin, it’s also imperative that your daily sunscreen isn’t too harsh! This is where a hypoallergenic sunscreen comes in.

    What does “hypoallergenic” mean exactly? It simply refers to a product that is made without common irritating ingredients and is less likely to cause your skin to react. This is a must for people with sensitive or eczema-prone skin.

    That said, “hypoallergenic” is not a term regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). You’ll still want to do an ingredient check yourself if you know of a specific ingredient that irritates your skin.

    Another important thing to remember is that your skin is unique (just like you!), and an ingredient that may not irritate someone else’s skin could cause a problem for you. It’s always a good idea to do a patch test for any new product you’re adding to your regimen.

    Rest assured that all of our Mustela sunscreens are hypoallergenic and fragrance-free.

    While we’re on the topic of ensuring that your sunscreen is gentle on your skin, let’s discuss choosing safe active and inactive ingredients.

    Safe Active Ingredients

     daily sunscreen

    What you put on your and your little one’s skin day in and day out matters!

    The chemicals in chemical sunscreens not only sit on your skin but can also soak into your body through your skin. This means they can be irritating to your skin at best and damaging to your body at worst.

    So, if chemical active ingredients are not the safe option, what is? We recommend a mineral sunscreen made with zinc oxide.

    Is zinc oxide safe for your skin? You bet! It’s not only safe, but it’s even beneficial for your skin. It has been used to treat eczema, acne, and burn wounds, supporting healing by soothing, softening, and moisturizing your skin.

    In fact, non-nano zinc oxide is so good for even the most sensitive of skin that it is used in many diaper creams.

    Titanium dioxide is the other safe mineral sunscreen ingredient. Just keep in mind that some brands combine mineral and chemical active ingredients. Double-check to make sure your sunblock’s active ingredients include only minerals and no chemicals.

    Safe Inactive Ingredients

     Aloe plant for daily sunscreen ingredients

    To give your family the best of the best, you’ll also want to pay attention to inactive ingredients — the ingredients that create consistency, smell, and other sunscreen characteristics.

    We recommend staying away from sun protection products that are made with parabens, synthetic fragrances, phthalates, or phenoxyethanol — all of which can irritate your skin and potentially cause other problems.

    Without going into too much detail about these ingredients, we’ll just say that synthetic fragrances (often listed as “fragrance” or “parfum”) can contain several chemicals and irritate sensitive skin.

    Parabens act like the hormone estrogen, and there are concerns that this could affect your health or interfere with fetal development.

    Phthalates are used to make plastics more flexible and durable, but they’re also used in cosmetics to make the product less brittle and stiff or enhance the scent.

    Although the jury is still out when it comes to the safety of phthalates, there’s concern that they can act as an endocrine disruptor, are associated with neurodevelopmental disorders in children, and contribute to asthma and allergies.

    Meanwhile, phenoxyethanol is a preservative, helping put a stop to bacteria and keep your sunscreen fresh. But this ingredient can also cause your skin to react.

    As you can see, we have reason to stay away from these types of ingredients. Especially when there are so many natural ingredients to be had.

    So, instead of focusing on the ingredients that you don’t want, let’s turn to some of the amazing, soothing, and hydrating ingredients that actually benefit your skin!

    Look for sunscreen with some of the following natural ingredients:

    • Coconut oil
    • Vitamin E
    • Macadamia oil
    • Shea butter
    • Chamomile flower extract
    • Avocado oil
    • Sunflower seed oil
    • Jojoba
    • Aloe vera
    • Calendula

    Imagine treating your skin to all of that goodness while also protecting yourself from UV rays.

    Dad using daily sunscreen on baby

    SPF 15 Or Higher

    Earlier, we explained a bit about SPF. But what number should you look for in a daily sunscreen?

    For days that are spent mostly inside, the Skin Cancer Foundation recommends SPF 15 or higher. Otherwise, you should apply a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.

    Just keep in mind that a higher SPF doesn’t mean you can skimp on how often you apply sunscreen. Reapply every two hours without fail as well as when you get out of the water.

    Your sunscreen only works if it’s on your skin!

    Easy Application

    Your sunscreen might be the best of the best, but it does you no good if you never wear it because it’s so difficult to apply! Aim for a daily sunscreen that’s easy to put on.

    If spray sunscreen is easier for you and your active kids, keep it on hand. Or, if you’re partial to stick sunscreen, opt for a compact stick that you can use for the whole family. The good news is there are lots of options when it comes to safe and easy-to-apply sunscreens.

    Before we wrap up, we’ll mention a few of those options.

    Safe Daily Sunscreen Options For The Family

     Safe Daily Sunscreen Options For The Family

    Mineral Sunscreen Spray

    For a convenient spray sunscreen, opt for Mustela’s SPF 30 Mineral Sunscreen Spray. It’s made with soothing, naturally derived ingredients, including aloe vera, calendula, chamomile flower extract, and sunflower oil to hydrate skin while protecting it!

    And it is made with absolutely no questionable ingredients like parabens, phthalates, or phenoxyethanol.

    As for its active ingredients, this mineral sunscreen uses only non-nano zinc oxide to offer safe and effective sun protection for your whole family, including little ones.

    Rest assured that it’s been dermatologist and pediatrician tested and, like all Mustela products, is based on scientific research.

    Like the other two sunscreens we will mention below, our Mineral Sunscreen Spray is accepted by the National Eczema Foundation and recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation.

    Our non-toxic formula is lightweight and water-resistant for up to 80 minutes. To make the most of this product, shake the bottle well, hold it four to six inches away from your skin to apply with a simple spray, and reapply at least every two hours.

    If you prefer SPF 50, there’s a spray for you, too. Click here to shop this broad-spectrum sunscreen option.

    Mineral Sunscreen Stick

    Daily Sunscreen

    Slim, small, and travel-friendly, our SPF 50 Mineral Sunscreen Stick is made for the whole family and provides 80 minutes of sweat- and water-resistant protection. The lightweight texture blends and absorbs easily with your skin and won’t leave a white film.

    Made with non-nano zinc oxide, this sunscreen is crafted with 70% organic ingredients, including shea butter, avocado oil, sunflower seed oil, and jojoba and wears the National Science Foundation (NSF) seal.

    (If you love organic skin care, look into our Certified Organic line that includes cotton wipes, cleansing gel, hydrating cream, micellar water, and diaper cream as part of your routine as well.)

    Make this broad-spectrum stick sunscreen your trusty companion for when you’re at the beach, in the pool, or on a hike with the family.

    Mineral Sunscreen Lotion

    Last but not least, let’s talk about a trusty daily sunscreen lotion. For broad-spectrum, mineral protection from the sun in an easy-to-apply cream, turn to Mustela’s SPF 50 Mineral Sunscreen Lotion.

    This fragrance-free sunscreen is made with 93% naturally derived ingredients such as coconut oil, macadamia oil, and Vitamin E (no parabens or phenoxyethanol!). It offers safe and effective daily sun protection for babies, children, and the entire family! Lather up.

    Make Daily Sunscreen A Habit

     Daily Sunscreen

    In this article, we explained five reasons to start wearing a daily sunscreen and make sure your little one’s skin is protected every day, too.

    Remember that the sun shines all year; neither clouds nor glass can completely protect your skin; and over time, unprotected sun exposure can leave your skin damaged.

    To cover your skin with safe, effective protection, turn to a mineral sunscreen — like Mustela’s SPF 50 Mineral Sunscreen Lotion — that’s broad-spectrum, made with zinc oxide, provides SPF 15 or higher, is easy to use, and is safe for your whole family.

    It won’t take long to make daily sunscreen a habit, and your skin (and your family’s) will thank you for it!