Ask a dermatologist, and you’ll be told to wear a sunscreen (any sunscreen, as long as you use it) every day on all exposed skin, all year long. Ask a functional medicine doc and you’ll be told that 15-20 minutes of sun exposure on bare skin will boost Vitamin D production, supporting bone health and immunity. Ask me, a physician who owns a natural skincare company, and you’ll get something in between those two answers.
I’m a huge fan of non-nano zinc sunscreens because they are the least harmful to the environment, safe for the whole family, and provide UVA (long term sun damage) and UVB (sunburn) protection. If the sunscreen also has a little titanium dioxide, that can boost the SPF, but it only covers UVB rays, so make sure there’s more zinc than titanium. Those are the only two mineral sunscreen ingredients (technically they are considered sunblocks, since they reflect the rays at the surface of your skin like a mirror). I prefer mineral sunscreens because they are effective instantly, and because they stay on your skin longer and have less potential toxicity (for you and for the planet) than chemical sunscreens like oxybenzone, octinoxate, and avobenzone.
I wear mineral sunscreen on my face, neck, and upper chest daily. I don’t use it on my arms or legs unless I plan to be in the sun for more than 10-15 minutes—that way I get a little dose of sunlight to boost my Vitamin D production. If I’m going out for a run or a ride, I apply mineral sunscreen to all exposed skin, and reapply it to my face. And I take a Vitamin D supplement daily, because healthy vitamin D levels are vital for bone health, immunity, and many other cellular functions, and because most of us are deficient in Vitamin D!
My favorite facial sunscreen is Mychelle Unscented SPF 28. It’s not as perfectly clean and green as some other brands, but it sinks in quickly without a white cast on all skin tones, doesn’t exacerbate my perioral dermatitis, and has no scent. My favorite body sunscreen is the Mychelle SPF 30 mineral spray, but it leaves more of a white cast, even on my pale skin. I’m still looking for the perfect body sunscreen!