SPORT sunscreen, is there a difference?

man applying sunscreen to face looking in car window reflection

It can be a daunting walk down the sunscreen aisle trying to figure out which will offer you the best protection. It can make you feel like you need a PhD just to go outdoors. All the different SPFs, spray versus oils or lotions, tinted, waterproof, moisturizing, and the list goes on. Then you’ve got sunscreens made for the face. The first thing you might think is ... “do I really need a different sunscreen for my face?” The answer is a resounding “MAYBE?” It all comes down to the product.

The skin on the face is a lot more delicate than the skin on your body and it is the most exposed. You may suffer from breakouts, rashes, and more severe sunburns on your face than your body, which is why specially formulated sunscreens, that are made just for the face, are "possibly" worth adding to your arsenal. Since the skin on your face is the most exposed skin on your entire body, sunscreen should be used year round and every day. If you exercise outdoors this is even more important.

Running, hiking, biking, volleyball, or any other sport that you do outside puts you at risk of burning and pre-mature aging, not to mention the high risk of skin cancer. Sport formulas are often marketed as waterproof (water resistant is the new term), which prevents sweat from rinsing away your sunscreen. They usually contain a higher SPF too, knowing that sports will keep you in the sun longer than you might otherwise expect.

New formulations contain beneficial elements for the skin, such as antioxidants, combined with oil free and lighter applications to prevent breakouts, and water resistant components to keep it on your skin for the duration (40 mins to 80 mins). Remember, though, as per the FDA monograph all sunscreens must be reapplied every two hours, even if you’re wearing SPF 100 (which the FDA no longer allows).

Some moisturizer companies add SPF to their lotions and creams, as do some makeup companies. These can offer you the best of both worlds, but often the SPF is not high enough, the formulation can be too heavy for perspiring skin when doing sports, and they might not offer broad spectrum protection.

Broad spectrum protects the skin against UVA and UVB rays, while your typical SPF only protects against UVB rays. This is especially important for sport sunscreen because UVA rays cause the most damage to the underlying layers of the skin, causing wrinkling and aging.

For even more protection from the sun, consider wearing hats and UV protective clothing. Sunglasses are also essential, to protect your delicate eyes from the damaging rays of the sun.

What To Look For In Sport Sunscreen

  • Broad spectrum
  • Water resistant (40 to 80 mins)
  • Non-comedogenic
  • Antioxidants
  • Moisturizing
  • SPF of 30 to 50
  • Tinted (optional)

Get out in the sun and get your sport on. It’s great for maintaining a healthy weight and excellent for getting your daily dose of vitamin D.