To prevent sun rays from penetrating the skin, sunscreens use either a Chemical Absorber by converting it to heat, or a Physical Blocker to reflect the rays.
Chemical Absorbers generally include names such as salicalate, cinnimate, or benzophenone. There are several variations within those chemical families and a formula will often include two or more absorbers. By converting the energy of a sun ray into heat there is a reduction in the damage these rays can do to your deep skin. A newer absorber called avebenzone (Parsol 1789) has been shown to provide added protection against UVA rays under lab conditions. Though in applications in “real world” conditions, we feel as though the benefits of avebenzone are significantly diminished and often lost, which is why we choose not use this fairly common absorber in any of our sunscreen solutions.
Physical Blockers are either Titanium Dioxide (TiO2) or Zinc Oxide which literally reflect the sun's rays. While in theory these are wonderful, our extensive research has yet to see formulas which are able to hold these particles in place during activity nor have we been able to develop such a formula which meets or exceeds our current formulas. If such a technique were found the result would be truly better protection against UVA rays.
With those as the options for active ingredients, formulators now choose one of three delivery systems to present and hold the sunscreens to your skin:
- Mid Layer Sunscreens
- Top Layer Sunscreens
- Surface Sunscreens
A 20% DEET Premium Controlled-Release Lotion will work well against mosquitoes, but Dr. Zimring says he prefers the 20% Picaridin lotion since it also protects against ticks, gnats, chiggers, and flies. (In both instances, he recommends Sawyer brand.)
Part of spending time outside means battling ticks, mosquitoes, and other biting insects. For this, Nelson swears by permethrin.
And out of the products we tested, Dr. Zeichner highly recommends Sawyer Products 20% Picaridin Insect Repellent.