Despite all of data showing that the sun’s ultraviolet rays (UVA and UVB rays) damage the skin, people still spend long periods of time outside with no skin protection. This leads to lots of wrinkles, spots on your skin and even cancer. If you have been around me long enough you will at some point have had the privilege of hearing me preach to you about the dangers of too much sun exposure and if I hear about you going to a tanning bed…well, it won’t be pretty!
I’ve used lots of different types of sunscreen over the years, but I’ve had limited success with finding one that can hold up to the type of training that I’m doing now. Before I get into the particular brands that I’ve tried, I want to explain the difference between sunscreen and sunblock.
Sunscreen contains chemicals that protect your skin by absorbing and reflecting UV rays while allowing a certain range of UV light to be absorbed into the skin. Sunblock is a physical barrier on the skin that reflects UV rays and acts as a wall between your skin and the sun. Hearing about chemicals being absorbed into or painted on our skin doesn’t sound like something that I would promote, but the benefits far outweigh and potential risk. Over 1 million people get skin cancer every year. It’s a no brainer.
So here’s a picture of some of the products that I’ve tried:
Let’s start with the NO-AD Sunblock lotion (second from the right).
- Protects against UVA & UVB
- Contains Aloe Vera and Vitamin E
- Only lasts for about an hour (label says 80 minutes)
- Claims to be water and sweat resistant, but it runs when wet
- Sunblock layer prevents the body from being able to sweat as much = overheating
- Only SPF 30
Anther lotion that I tried was the Coppertone Sport (third from the left)
- Protects against UVA & UVB
- Contains antioxidants
- Sweatproof (actually stays on pretty well)
- SPF 50
- Longevity – needs to be reapplied after 1 hour
- Stains clothes
Now let’s talk about the aerosol sprays. They are an alcohol based spray from an aluminum can. They are obviously very popular because they are easy to apply. After doing some more research, I’ve learned a few things about them that I don’t like. First of all, the alcohol dries your skin. It also increases the amount of chemicals that can penetrate your skin. These sunscreens also contain chemicals that are very hard to pronounce…and they get into your body.
Let’s start with the Coppertone Sport spray suncreen (first on the left)
- Continuous spray is easy to apply, espeically on the hard to reach areas of the back and shoulders
- Dries quickly
- Leaves a film on your skin
- Prevents you from sweating
- Contains alcohol…lots of alcohol
The second from the left is made by Ocean Potion Suncare
- Continuous spray
- Highly water and sweat resistant (does not wash off)
- UVA & UVB protection
- Contains alcohol
- Needs to be reapplied often
The other spray shown is just the Equate (walmart) brand of the Coppertone spray. Same basic ingredients and pros/cons
So big surprise, none of these worked for me. If you are just going to be sitting outside relaxing, then maybe one of these is right for you. But if there’s any sweating or activity going on, these aren’t going to cut it. None of them last long enough and most of them prevent me from sweating enough.
After doing some research, I came across a sunblock that was made for what I intend to use it for…rigorous training in the sun and heat. The product is called SCAPE
(pictured on the far right). SCAPE is an acronym that stands for S
rotection and E
The one thing that sold me on this product was the fact that two-time Ironman World Champion, Craig Alexander used it while racing the Ironman in Hawaii. He put it on before the race, then swam 2.4 miles, biked 112 and ran 26.2 in the blazing sun…without ever reapplying it…and finished the race without a single tan line from his tri jersey or shorts!
The sunblock has been formulated to stay on the skin, but at the same time allowing your body to sweat. It uses an ultra-thin gore-tex layer to hold the sunblock in place, while keeping it breathable…so your body temp doesn’t rise.
The only drawback is the price. I paid $14.95 + shipping for a 4oz bottle of SPF 50.
I’ve used SCAPE now on two long rides (80 miles and 100 miles) that kept me out in the sun for over four and five hours. The results…no tan lines and plenty of sweat making it through. Good stuff!
6/23/11: Bike – Sprint intervals (18.7 miles in 45:00)
6/23/11: Weights – Extreme Core I – 4 sets
6/24/11: Bike – Drills (19.0 miles in 1:00:00)
6/24/11: Swim – Pace Test (1008yd in 18:06)
6/25/11: Brick – Bike (20.78 miles in 1:01:13), Run (6.04 miles in 47:15)
6/27/11 Run – Fartlek (3.75 miles in 28:30)
6/27/11: Weights – Extreme Core II – 4 sets
6/28/11: Bike – Sprint intervals (15.0 miles in 45:00)
6/28/11: Swim – Drills with fins/paddles (1500yd in 30:11)
6/29/11: Swim – Train Smart Group Swim (2650m in 1:11:03)
6/30/11: Bike – Hill intervals (14.5 miles in 50:00)
6/30/11: Swim – Endurance 500’s (2400yd in 44:36)
7/1/11 Run – Long Aerobic Run (20.26 miles in 2:53:22)
7/2/11: Bike – Long Aerobic Ride (100.52 miles in 5:17:50)
7/4/11: Bike – Recovery Ride (13.5 miles in 45:00)
7/5/11 Run – Recovery Run (5.13 miles in 44:08)
7/5/11: Swim – Recovery Swim (1008yd in 18:13)