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: four of the reasons you should do it as well as tips for choosing a safe and effective sunscreen for everyday use.

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.

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 (along with others), 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.

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. Most mineral sunscreens use zinc oxide, but you may also see titanium dioxide listed as an active ingredient.

A mineral sunscreen physically reflects and deflects the rays of the sun to protect your skin.

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 four reasons that sunscreen is not only for the summer months and pool days. We think you’ll be convinced.

4 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.

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.”

3) UVA Rays Go Through Glass
 Mom with baby researching daily sunscreen options

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

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 a 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.

Safe Ingredients

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

And 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.

We recommend a mineral sunscreen made with zinc oxide. Is zinc oxide safe for your skin? You bet! In fact, non-nano zinc oxide is so good for even the most sensitive of skin that is used in many diaper creams.

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

For broad-spectrum, mineral protection from the sun, turn to Mustela’s reef-friendly SPF 50 Mineral Sunscreen Lotion.

This fragrance-free sunscreen is made with 93% naturally derived ingredients (no parabens or phenoxyethanol!) and offers safe and effective daily sun protection for babies, children, and the entire family! 

Dad kissing baby that's being protected by mustela daily sunscreen

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 a spray-on sunscreen is easier for you and your active kids, 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!

Or, if you’re partial to stick sunscreen, try our SPF 50 Mineral Sunscreen Stick. Made for the whole family, this travel-friendly sunscreen provides 80 minutes of sweat- and water-resistant protection.

Expert tip: All Mustela sunscreens are certified by the National Eczema Association and fragrance-free. That means they’re suitable for the whole family, even those with sensitive skin!

Make Daily Sunscreen A Habit

Mom applying daily sunscreen on child's face

In this article, we explained four 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!