Answers to Your Questions About Sunscreen

questions about sunscreen

By now, you know that sunscreen is important to wear every day — even in the winter. You may be confident that you’re applying it correctly as well. But chances are, you still have questions — like “Why do my eyes water, even if I didn’t get any sunscreen in them?” Or “What SPF should I choose?” Keep reading to get all your questions about sunscreen easily answered — before you head outside today.

Why Do My Eyes Water and Burn When I Wear Sunscreen?

You dutifully applied sunscreen to your face, being careful to avoid your eyes. But then you step outside on a hot day, and a few minutes later, your eyes are burning. You do a quick mental check: Did you rub the sunscreen too close to your eyes? No, you were careful. Did you rub your eyes with fingers that still have sunscreen on them? No, you washed them after application. So what gives?

Often, it’s the type of sunscreen you’re using. Certain chemicals in some sunscreens, like homosalate, octocrylene, or oxybenzone, can irritate your eyes. Switching to a natural sunscreen that uses zinc oxide or titanium dioxide will give your weeping eyes a break.

What SPF Should I Use?

A higher SPF can actually be misleading because SPF is not a linear scale. For example, SPF 15 sunscreen blocks 93 percent of UVB radiation, while SPF 30 blocks almost 97 percent and SPF 45 blocks 98 percent. The higher ratings don’t necessarily provide more protection, and they can even provide consumers with a false sense of security, leading to fewer applications.

SPF 30 is sufficient, but you must apply it correctly to get its benefits. Remember this rule:


  • 30: The minimum SPF you should choose
  • 20: The number of minutes you need to wait before going outside (unless you use a sunscreen with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, which are effective immediately)
  • 2: The number of hours you can go until you need to reapply (You may need to reapply more often if you’re sweating or in the water)
  • 1: The number of ounces you need for your whole body (The amount that would fill a shot glass)

If I Wear Sunscreen, Will I Still Get Enough Vitamin D?

We need vitamin D for healthy bones and body. The sun helps your body make this crucial vitamin, and sunscreen does, indeed, block your ability to produce adequate vitamin D. But don’t put the sunscreen away yet! Even the best sunscreen wearer doesn’t cover every centimeter every minute of the day. It’s likely some UV light is still getting through to you. Plus, you can get some vitamin D from your diet, and you can even take a supplement to get your needed vitamin D. Risking skin cancer from overexposure to the sun isn’t worth it.

Is Sunscreen Bad for the Ocean?

You may have heard that many coral reefs are struggling. And while this is due to several factors, like greenhouse gas emissions, nutrient runoff from farms, and rising temperatures, sunscreen plays a part in the current bleaching of the world’s coral reefs. A staggering 14,000 tons of sunscreen lotions end up in coral reefs each year, and the active ingredient in many sunscreens, oxybenzone, leaches the coral of its nutrients. This is alarming, considering the coral reefs are responsible for the ocean’s health.

You may think you aren’t contributing to this if you live far from the ocean, but any sunscreen you wash off ends up in the waterways. The solution is to use a sunscreen that does not contain the harmful chemical oxybenzone. Instead, stick with sunscreens that use zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.

What About SPF Clothing?

Are there other ways to protect your skin from the sun? Yes! In addition to sunscreen, you can get extra protection by wearing SPF clothing. Remember that you’ll still have exposed skin, however, and sunscreen will still be a must. Wearing a hat and sunglasses, seeking shade when outdoors, and avoiding outdoor activities during peak UV hours will maximize your sun protection.

Many questions about sunscreen lead naturally to the solution of Deter Mineral Reef Safe Sunscreen SPF 30, which provides SPF 30 Broad Spectrum UV Protection, is reef safe, and uses titanium dioxide and zinc oxide to provide protection from the sun. Make the responsible choice, and give it a try.