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Best Sunblock/Sunscreen for Climbing?

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Best Sunblock/Sunscreen for Climbing?

Postby Buck » Fri Jun 01, 2012 2:58 am

As a fair-skinned redhead, it is more than a little confusing to figure out what sunblock or sunscreen to use for mid-late summer climbs. As my other post indicated, we are doing a summer climb on the South Sister and I consider the sun, dehydration, and blisters to be the biggest challenges for my party.

I was planning on applying a good 50 spf chemical sunscreen before leaving the trailhead and then applying zinc oxide as an outer protective layer to my ears, nose, and parts of my face once the sun is higher in the sky. In the past, I've used zinc oxide by itself, but thought I would try something different. However, I'm really not sure what is best. Any suggestions or experiences that anyone could share to shed some [sun] light on this subject?
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Re: Best Sunblock/Sunscreen for Climbing?

Postby billisfree » Fri Jun 01, 2012 7:56 am

Not sure if spf 50 is any better than spf 30.

But I can sure add... put sunblock under and inside your nostils... as sunlight reflects off snow and reach unsuspected spots.

On my, last climb I got sunburn INSIDE my lips... spots where sunscreen doesn't stick.
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Re: Best Sunblock/Sunscreen for Climbing?

Postby ExcitableBoy » Fri Jun 01, 2012 12:47 pm

I have very sensitive skin and found that Aloe Gator GEL SPF 40 to be the best sunscreen in terms of protection and compatibiliy with my skin. The gel has a pleasant scent (reminds me of climbing in Alaska), feels good on the skin, and doesn't run into the eyes regardless of how hard I sweat. It comes is two sizes, a light and fast friendly small size and a expedition size. Both are available at REI: http://www.rei.com/product/407201/aloe- ... 40-1-fl-oz
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Re: Best Sunblock/Sunscreen for Climbing?

Postby 96avs01 » Fri Jun 01, 2012 4:36 pm

What works for some, may not work for others. I have been quite happy with Beyond Coastal products, and have a non-sensitive skin type. I would also recommend reviewing any potential product in the EWG's sunscreen database. Many of the more readily available brands don't receive high marks. Cheers
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Re: Best Sunblock/Sunscreen for Climbing?

Postby Woodie Hopper » Fri Jun 01, 2012 5:59 pm

Make sure you use something that protects against UVA, not just UVB exposure. I like to use something that is relatively sweatproof, nothing is 100%. I agree ZnO is good to use. Personally I like Vanicream, but it is a little on the greasy side. Protecting lips too is also a good idea. I use Dermatone (the one that comes in a small metal container for my lips) which dosn't taste so good, but works.

You might also consider wearing a hat which blocks sun on your neck. I use one made by OR which helps. You can take off the side skirts and use it like a ball cap.

I'm blue-eyed with lighter hair with skin cancer history in my family and already had some lesions removed, so I try to be careful whenever possible.

I hope this helps.

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Re: Best Sunblock/Sunscreen for Climbing?

Postby Wastral » Fri Jun 01, 2012 11:00 pm

1) long sleeved LOOSE shirt
2) Long shorts or white capilene long underwear
3) OR or equivalent sun hat. There are better than OR out there. The cap part of the OR hat is not wide enough and one gets sun in the side. Get the type with extra wide ball cap style. I have found that keeping sun off of my face makes me a HAPPY camper. That and I have a general rule: Between ~11:00 and ~1:00 I try to NOT go anywhere at high altitude. Eat, drink, relax.

Another suggestion, while a bit heavy, is a giant hat like you see every farmer use. Usually woven from straw blocking the sunlight but allowing ventilation. I always take such a hat boating/kayaking. They cannot be beaten. There is a reason all of those old pictures have all people wearing LARGE BRIMMED hats of all types and shapes. Think Mexican/Chinese hats.

4) ZnO from dermatone in metal containers for under eyes/ears/nose/lips. It lasts unlike everything else I have tried. Tastes bad, but lasts. You will quickly learn, do NOT lick your lips! Besides that dries out your lips.
5) SPF 30 cheap stuff that is sweat proof everywhere else.
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Re: Best Sunblock/Sunscreen for Climbing?

Postby MoapaPk » Sat Jun 02, 2012 12:25 am

Not everyone agrees with the EWG studies on sunscreen; to put it mildly.
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Re: Best Sunblock/Sunscreen for Climbing?

Postby SeanReedy » Sat Jun 02, 2012 4:04 am

My son has had adverse reactions to several sunscreens and I have noticed that some have irritated my skin at times. Through trial and error, it currently seems like oxybenzone irritates my son's skin.

http://www.consumersearch.com provides some analysis and suggestions (the EWG controversy is mentioned...the EWG site does seem good for researching ingredient lists via the internet, but what they consider to be safe/unsafe is in question).

http://www.consumersearch.com/sunscreen/review: A product's ingredients are directly connected to its level of protection. Physical sunscreens are made with minerals (titanium dioxide and zinc oxide) that form a natural, protective layer on the skin that blocks the sun's harmful rays. Chemical sunscreens (avobenzone, Mexoryl SX and Tinosorb) absorb UV rays. It's important to note that some chemical SPF sunscreens, including the commonly used oxybenzone, can protect only against a portion of UVA waves (those in the lower end of the UVA spectrum). Many sunscreens contain oxybenzone, but they don't contain anything to protect against long-wave UVA. By including oxybenzone, companies are allowed to say their product protects against UVA, but unless it also contains avobenzone, zinc oxide, titanium dioxide or Mexoryl SX, experts say users are not optimally protected against long-wave UVA rays.


http://www.consumersearch.com/sunscreen/how-to-buy-sunscreen: Other active sunscreen ingredients, including homosalate, octisalate, octinoxate, octocrylene and oxybenzone, block UVB rays and short-wave UVA rays.
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Re: Best Sunblock/Sunscreen for Climbing?

Postby 96avs01 » Sat Jun 02, 2012 6:21 pm

SeanReedy wrote:http://www.consumersearch.com provides some analysis and suggestions (the EWG controversy is mentioned...the EWG site does seem good for researching ingredient lists via the internet, but what they consider to be safe/unsafe is in question).


I think they are pretty forthcoming about the uncertainties in their methodology. Regardless, at least it is a unified evaluation structure so at the very least the relative ratings are useful. They are by no means a 'rubber stamp' of safe/unsafe, just another resource requiring proper interpretation. Cheers
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Re: Best Sunblock/Sunscreen for Climbing?

Postby SeanReedy » Sat Jun 02, 2012 6:54 pm

96avs01 wrote:
SeanReedy wrote:http://www.consumersearch.com provides some analysis and suggestions (the EWG controversy is mentioned...the EWG site does seem good for researching ingredient lists via the internet, but what they consider to be safe/unsafe is in question).


I think they are pretty forthcoming about the uncertainties in their methodology. Regardless, at least it is a unified evaluation structure so at the very least the relative ratings are useful. They are by no means a 'rubber stamp' of safe/unsafe, just another resource requiring proper interpretation. Cheers


Yeah...they have a huge amount of products sorted by ingredient(s) for one to research. It just so happens that the ingredient they say is most unsafe in some sunscreens I was using is the one that seemed to be irritating my son's skin (and occasionally mine). I found it useful. I also found the tone to be alarmist at times, which can be very effective at steering many people in one direction or another. I suspect much of the concern over EWG in relation to sunscreens is that some people will not interpret information properly and be more likely to avoid sunscreens altogether....or will avoid products that may have worked well for them based on controversial information that the EWG does label as limited. It seemed like the EWG would tend to steer most people to the mineral/zinc oxide/titanium dioxide sunscreens.


This seems worth repeating (not sure if there is information out there to the contrary): unless it also contains avobenzone, zinc oxide, titanium dioxide or Mexoryl SX, experts say users are not optimally protected against long-wave UVA rays. It was interesting to read that there are versions of mineral sunscreens (zinc oxide/titanium dioxide) that are much more invisible than some used in the past.
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Re: Best Sunblock/Sunscreen for Climbing?

Postby Wastral » Sat Jun 02, 2012 8:41 pm

I know of 2 people who cannot use skin products that have alcohol in them. Methanol that is or is it Ethanol. Whichever one you can't drink. =) I believe Dermatone that comes in the metal can does not have alcohol in it. The dermatone that comes in the tube does if I recall correctly. I have yet to run across another sunscreen other than dermatone that does not have alcohol in it. Supposedly there are a couple such sunscreens out there. I do not know what they are though.

I wouldn't be surprised if your son and yourself to some extent have the same allergic reaction. It is not uncommon.

SeanReedy wrote:My son has had adverse reactions to several sunscreens and I have noticed that some have irritated my skin at times. Through trial and error, it currently seems like oxybenzone irritates my son's skin.

http://www.consumersearch.com provides some analysis and suggestions (the EWG controversy is mentioned...the EWG site does seem good for researching ingredient lists via the internet, but what they consider to be safe/unsafe is in question).

http://www.consumersearch.com/sunscreen/review: A product's ingredients are directly connected to its level of protection. Physical sunscreens are made with minerals (titanium dioxide and zinc oxide) that form a natural, protective layer on the skin that blocks the sun's harmful rays. Chemical sunscreens (avobenzone, Mexoryl SX and Tinosorb) absorb UV rays. It's important to note that some chemical SPF sunscreens, including the commonly used oxybenzone, can protect only against a portion of UVA waves (those in the lower end of the UVA spectrum). Many sunscreens contain oxybenzone, but they don't contain anything to protect against long-wave UVA. By including oxybenzone, companies are allowed to say their product protects against UVA, but unless it also contains avobenzone, zinc oxide, titanium dioxide or Mexoryl SX, experts say users are not optimally protected against long-wave UVA rays.


http://www.consumersearch.com/sunscreen/how-to-buy-sunscreen: Other active sunscreen ingredients, including homosalate, octisalate, octinoxate, octocrylene and oxybenzone, block UVB rays and short-wave UVA rays.
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Re: Best Sunblock/Sunscreen for Climbing?

Postby SeanReedy » Mon Jun 04, 2012 7:25 am

Good point about alcohol in sunscreens. I can’t rule alcohol out as being the problem as the stuff that seems to be working for my son is alcohol-free as well as free of oxybenzone. I don't think we've ever tried any mineral based sucnscreens ...I usually just pick up whatever I find while shopping, which usually is at Costco.
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Re: Best Sunblock/Sunscreen for Climbing?

Postby ExcitableBoy » Mon Jun 04, 2012 1:27 pm

Here is a link about non toxic sunscreens from a blog that one of my colleauge writes that may be useful: http://greengoddessdressing.blogspot.co ... oduct.html

She is also the author of The Non Toxic Avenger, a book about the toxicology of everyday products. The cover photo is of her. In addition to being fairly brilliant, she was a Ford model.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Non-Toxic-Ave ... 617&sr=1-1
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Re: Best Sunblock/Sunscreen for Climbing?

Postby Buck » Wed Jun 20, 2012 3:48 am

I've done a little more study on this and frankly find this situation very confusing and a bit frustrating. Kind of leaning still toward sunblocks with fairly high zinc oxide content, but lots of confusion out there about nano vs non-nano, etc. Seems like Badger is a good overall choice, but there are also some others that may be just as good. Still looking for the "perfect" sunblock - stays on, withstands sweat, doesn't get into your eyes and cause irritation, doesn't contain questionable chemicals that may themselves cause skin damage even without the sun, and doesn't cost a fortune. Any more ideas out there?
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Re: Best Sunblock/Sunscreen for Climbing?

Postby Wastral » Wed Jun 20, 2012 11:06 am

Best sunscreen? Loose long sleeved Shirt. =-) Big floppy hat
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