Here we are in summer. At this time of year, runners are reaping the rewards of being able to run without bulky layering while enjoying scenic views of favourite trails. But every season has its challenges, and in summer, sun damage is a big one. Since runners spend so much time outside, finding the sun protection that works best is key.
Not only does sun damage speed up the aging process, but, as we all know, it can cause skin cancer, of which there are various types, some more serious than others. “One in six gets basal cell. It tends to occur on the face,” says Dr. Anne Curtis of Toronto’s Dermatology on Bloor. She says that while most people assume wrinkles just come with age, they actually are signs of damage from the sun. “Sunscreen is the best anti-aging cream there is,” she says.
Shopping for a product
Convinced to start using lotions and sprays more regularly? Great. “The easy thing about sun protection is that it’s not a mystery,” says Dr. Curtis. So what do you look for? Curtis says to buy products with a high SPF (sun protection factor).
When shopping for a product, another thing to consider is whether or not it’s been approved by the Canadian Dermatology Association. Not all sun protection products are created equal and that’s why the association has gone through those sold in Canada as part of their Sun Protection Program and listed which ones they have approved. When shopping, look for their logo on the bottle.
After that, it’s about feel. Runners want to like the product. If the user doesn’t like it, they won’t want to use it. When staring at bottles on the shelf though, it’s hard to know which one feels and smells the best and which one won’t run with sweat or sting the eyes. We put six common of the most popular products on the shelves through testing on the run. Below are our observations.
Life Sport Sunscreen
This spray felt the lightest out of all of those tested. Sprays like this one are suitable for runners who need to hastily reapply in the middle of the workout and it won’t matter if this one gets on the clothes.
KINeSYS Oil Free Clear Spray SPF 50, KINeSYS Oil Free Clear Spray SPF 30 Vanilla-Green Tea
These non-greasy formulas were developed for athletes, and they go on light and never feel greasy. The SPF 50 comes in an ergonomic bottle and is fragrance-free. They’re also alcohol-free, oxybenzone-free, and paraben-free.
Banana Boat Sport Performance Coolzone
When worn on the face, we found it did not run into the eyes causing them to sting or tear up. The bottle advertises a refreshing cooling feel when applied. This was definitely true. Runners would appreciate that cooling feeling during a reapplication on a set break of a sweaty workout.
Banana Boat Sport Performance
Because it’s so tiny, this product is easy to pack into a belt or hydration pack or even shorts pocket to bring it out on the run. It goes on sheer and feels light. Our tester had no problems with sunburn or having this product run into the eyes.
Coppertone Sport Sunscreen Lotion
This product feels light on the skin, dries quickly and didn’t let our freckly tester get any sunburns. It comes in a small size (88mL) so it’s easy to bring for a long run or day trip. However when worn on the forehead while running, this one did sting the eyes.
Ombrelle Sport Lotion
The texture of this felt (and smelled) like glue and had to be rubbed in a lot more to get rid of the white tint, though it did a good job.
Neutrogena Cool Dry Sport
We found this product sticky and runny when it first went on. It may not be the best facial product, as it did run into the eyes and felt a little oily on the face. It’s fine when worn on arms and legs. We felt Neutrogena’s product had the best smell out of the three lotions too. The scent is helpful on those sweaty runs.