Sun Tanning Questions

What SPF Sunscreen Should You Wear to Exercise Outside? (Explained)

Written by: Anastasija

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Sunscreen can often be a difficult concept to get your head around, with its various different properties and all the science that backs it up. However, it’s important to understand a little bit of this so that you know how to use it. Here is the SPF you should use to exercise outside.

What SPF of sunscreen should you wear in general?

Although this question asks specifically about wearing sunscreen during exercise, it’s also very beneficial to address the level of protection you should be getting from your sunscreen anyway, even if you’re not exercising and you’re just walking from place to place or chilling out at the beach. The SPF rating is something which many people don’t understand and can struggle to get their head around, as it doesn’t exactly make it explicitly clear what SPF you should be using and when, but instead just gives you the value of it.

When the Sun is out, as you’ll probably know, it is emitting lots of different waves, and one of these categories of waves is ultraviolet (UV) light. There are two types of UV light within this category, which are known as UVA and UVB, and they are both harmful to your skin in their own, individual ways. This means you should be ensuring that you protect your skin from them at any time possible by wearing a sunscreen, which is where the SPF rating comes in.

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One thing that is definitely worth noting is that the SPF value on your sunscreen is only a reflection of how protective the product is against UVB rays, and this is determined using certain testing standards, but it doesn’t say anything about UVA which is equally as harmful. As you can probably assume, you don’t need to wear the same level of protection on your face for every single occasion, otherwise, they wouldn’t come in different options, but many people don’t always use the correct logic or judgment when deciding when to use which, and this is where the danger of inadequate protection comes in.

The general advice to follow is that, if you are going outside or being exposed to the Sun’s natural light in any way (including through a window) you are going to need a sunscreen in the first place. The summertime sees a stronger Sun and higher UV levels which means you should really be wearing at least an SPF 50. However, during the cooler months, such as the fall or winter times, an SPF 20 or 30 should be fine, and even an SPF 15, as long as you are applying it properly as you should.

Also read:
Which Sunscreen is Best for Winter? (5 Best Ones)
7 Things A Sunscreen Does to Your Skin (Explained)
Is Sunscreen Considered A Liquid When Flying? (Explained)

What sunscreen should I use to exercise outside?

When exercising outside, certain things are different to how they’d normally be if you were, say, going out for a picnic in the park or spending the day in the city – exercise is more intense, and it usually leads to some significant amounts of sweating! When you exercise, you need to wear different clothes, so it’s easy to see why you may, perhaps, need to use a different sunscreen.

But, if you are planning to exercise outside, you may also be able to see why it makes sense to be using the recommended level of SPF you should be wearing anyway to start off with, as the amount of UV being emitted doesn’t change – it’s just the activity you’re doing that does. However, there are a few things that you can do to ensure that your sunscreen is workout-proof. It’s important that this is the case, as intense sweating or movement can alter your sunscreen’s efficacy, and you don’t want this to happen as it can mean you’re not fully protected like you may think.

working out with tan by Anastasija Thirsty for tan

Looking out for a sunscreen which is waterproof, or even sweat-resistant (many sunscreens designed for outdoor exercise and sports are made for this and advertised in this way to ensure that you are staying healthy and safe) is a really good place to start, and this property is one of the most important things you should consider. However, it’s also good to keep in mind that most sunscreens are only water-resistant for up to 80 minutes so, if you are sweating intensely for longer than this, you may need to re-apply, which you’ll also have to do at the end of your session, regardless of how long it was.

If you are interested in taking care of your skin concerns at the same time, you may also wish to go for a sunscreen which is non-comedogenic, meaning it doesn’t clog your pores, as this is a common concern during exercise, as sweating opens them up, and a comedogenic sunscreen can result in blackhead or whiteheads. An oil-free sunscreen is also good to consider, just for the way it feels on your face and it will also be good for anyone who has oily skin to begin with.

Also read: Is Sunscreen Bad for You? (Tips To Prevent The Danger)

What are the best sunscreens for outdoor exercise?

If you’re looking for some of the best sunscreens for outdoor exercise, here are three strong recommendations to get you started:

  1. COOLA Organic Sports Sunscreen & Sunblock Spray SPF 50

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  1. La Roche-Posay Anthelios Light Fluid Face Sunscreen SPF 60
La Roche-Posay Anthelios Light Fluid Face Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 60, Sensitive Skin Sunscreen, Oxybenzone Free, Oil Free, Non-Comedogenic
  • This multi-award winning facial sunscreen provides advanced protection in a lightweight, matte finish fluid. It helps visibly reduce the appearance of sun damage
  • Oxybenzone and Octinoxate-free facial sunscreen provides broad spectrum SPF 60 protection. Formulated with Cell-Ox Shield technology: broad spectrum UVA/UVB protection with antioxidants

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  1. EltaMD UV Sport Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50
EltaMD UV Sport Broad Spectrum SPF 50 Sunscreen Sport Lotion, Body Sunscreen with UVA and UVB Protection, Water Resistant up to 80 Minutes, Non-Greasy, Oil Free Formula with Zinc Oxide, 3 oz Tube
5,112 Reviews
EltaMD UV Sport Broad Spectrum SPF 50 Sunscreen Sport Lotion, Body Sunscreen with UVA and UVB Protection, Water Resistant up to 80 Minutes, Non-Greasy, Oil Free Formula with Zinc Oxide, 3 oz Tube
  • SPF 50 sport sunscreen protects your skin from outdoor UVA and UVB rays and is specially formulated for active lifestyles and outdoor activities
  • This water resistant sunscreen lotion protects you in the water for up to 80 minutes and won’t sting when you sweat or rinse off in the water

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What SPF Sunscreen Should You Wear to Exercise Outside pin by thirstyfortan

Final thoughts

If you’re planning to do your daily exercise outside, or make the most of the weather, it’s important that you remember your sunscreen, and that you’re wearing one which is suitable for the purpose, with a high enough level of protection. If you’re ever concerned or worried about what SPF you should be using, SPF 50 is always the safest option if in doubt.

About Anastasija

Welcome to my website! I'm Anastasija, and as a redhead with a sensitivity to the sun, I embarked on a quest to find the perfect sunless tanner six years ago.

After extensive research and four years of personal experience, I'm here to share my wealth of tips and tricks for achieving a beautiful, sun-kissed glow.

Whether you're interested in self-tanners, spray tans, or safe sun exposure, this website covers it all.

Join me as I provide valuable insights and guidance for various methods of getting that desired tan.

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