Is Your Sunscreen Safe Enough for Myrtle Beach?

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There are few vacation-destroying adversaries more quick and effective than a wicked sunburn. That’s why sunscreen is such an essential item on your Myrtle Beach vacation packing list!

But it seems like there are fresh news stories out daily that make it seem like our sunscreen’s not good enough—especially for a trip to a new latitude and a bunch of time in the sun, by the pool and on the beach. So, if you’re not sure if your sunscreen is safe enough for your next trip to the beach, take out this handy checklist to make sure you’re good to go:

• Is it expired? Answer: NO

Look for an expiration date on your sunscreen—there’s often one printed on the bottom of the bottle or stamped into a seam. If you can’t find a date, think about when you bought the sunscreen. If it’s more than two summers old, it’s time to chuck it, because the active ingredients don’t last more than a couple of years.

• Does it smell funny, look funny, or have lumps? Answer: NO

If your sunscreen has an off odor, a strange color or lumps, it’s time to go. You may have stored it poorly (it should be kept with the lid tightly sealed in a cool, dry spot in with fairly consistent temperatures), or maybe it’s older than you thought. Regardless, it’s probably not doing its job if it doesn’t seem as fresh as the day you bought it.

• Does it say “broad spectrum” on the bottle? Answer: YES

To avoid both sunburns and the aging effects of the sun, you will want what I called “broad spectrum” protection, which protects against both UVA and UVB rays.

• Have I applied my sunscreen within the last two hours? Answer: YES

Sunscreen needs to be re-applied often, and a two-hour rule is often recommended for maximum safety. Re-application is especially important if you’re swimming or sweating.

• Extra-cautious bonus question: Is the only active sunscreen ingredient zinc oxide? Answer: YES

If you are concerned about the effects of chemicals, which some studies have found can damage skin as much as the sun itself, avoid nanoparticles and seek sunscreens that list the mineral zinc oxide as the active sunscreen ingredient. The FDA has deemed the non-nanoparticle form of zinc oxide as safe for use as a sunscreen, even on babies younger than 6 months old.

Posted 7/18/13