As the weather gets warmer and you start peeling off winter layers, do yourself a favor and wear sunscreen.

The headline says it all: Always wear sunscreen.

If you’re a 90’s child like me then I bet this makes you reminisce about that catchy song released the year I graduated high school (1999’s “Everybody’s Free To Wear Suncreen” by Baz Luhrmann).

At the time, I’m sure like most other practical advice I received, it went in one ear and out the other. When you’re 18, you think you have all the answers, and things like flossing, wearing sunscreen, getting plenty of calcium and being kind to your knees is just something your old un-cool parents are lecturing you about.

Now that I’m that un-cool parent, I’ve had some iffy moles removed; osteoporosis runs in my family; and a lifetime of tennis and running hasn’t done my knees any favors … I wish I would have listened a little more closely to the lyrics of that song.

While we will save the calcium and poor decisions of youth for another column, today, as we gear up for summer, let’s talk about some safe sunscreen options.

By now — if you’ve been reading the more than 20 columns I’ve put together so far for Greene County’s Accent — you know my preference. Whether it’s something I’m eating, drinking or putting on my body (remember: your skin is the body’s largest organ), my choice will always be the option with the fewest ingredients, and what’s local or organic if those are an option.

If you’ve ever found yourself staring at a shelf of options, not knowing what’s best for you and your family, then you’re not alone.

I’m not a dermatologist. But, I have been in your shoes and have done a little research/product testing to help narrow down the choices.

First, let’s review a few things to look for no matter what brand you choose and then dive into a handful of my favorites.

SPF: I remember in high school not only using the tanning bed (I know), but wearing sunscreen with single digit SPF or “bronzing oil.”

Fast forward to present day and you will find me looking for the highest/most effective SPF. The only “sun” I get is from a bottle and sitting under an umbrella at the beach.

Before you rush out and spend extra dollars on a sunscreen promising 100 SPF, know that SPF 50 blocks 98% of UVB rays. I usually buy and use anywhere from 30 to 50 SPF.

Applying it one time for all-day use won’t keep you protected no matter how high SPF you use. This is especially true if you are getting in and out of water, even with water resistant options.

Make sure to check the directions on whatever brand you choose, as it will tell you how often you need to reapply: This also applies to how long it’s effective once in water.


  • Badger Clear Zinc Oxide Sport Sunscreen SPF 35 —
  • Unscented, great for all skin types, goes on white, dries clear and water resistant for 80 minutes.

I love not only Badger’s sunscreen but so many of their products. Their Badger Balm is great on dry hands, and I keep it on my nightstand, especially in the winter. Their products are organic, non-GMO, hypoallergenic … you name it Badger probably has a seal of approval for it.

Their website is a wealth of knowledge not only about their products, but also about what you are putting on your body and why you should be knowledgeable about it. See

  • Alba Botanica
  • — Another brand that I love, and their body lotion is a frequent purchase of mine.

This has no parabens or synthetic fragrances, is made of 100% vegetarian ingredients and is not tested on animals, so my beagle, Pam Tillis, would be proud. I love their Daily Shade Lotion with SPF 15.

I purchase their products via Amazon for the best deals, but if you aren’t an Amazon Prime lover (obsessed might be putting it mildly for me), you can also pick up their products at some grocery stores.

  • Neutrogena Sheer Zinc Dry-Touch Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 45

If you’ve ever visited a dermatologist, this is usually the brand they will recommend. They make a million different kinds — spray, lotion, stick, whatever your preference; plus this brand isn’t hard to find.

I like the Sheer Zinc Dry-Touch Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 45, a best seller for them. It doesn’t feel greasy or heavy, won’t clog your pores and is PABA free.

  • Sun Bum

This company makes a host of products and can usually be found at big box stores and multiple online vendors.

These products are vegan, cruelty-free (again, Pam Tillis the Beagle would be proud), sulfate-free, paraben-free and reef friendly. They care about the planet.

I like their sunscreen lip balm options, as it’s important to make sure your pucker is protected too.


To say I’ve tried them all would not be an exaggeration. Most of my close friends text me before they buy, because they know I’ve probably already tried it, especially if it’s an organic/natural brand.

After college and years of summers in the sun playing and teaching tennis, I had a mole removed with atypical cells. This was just a minor surgery that left a microscopic scar, but it was a wake-up call for me. Now, if you see me in the summer and I have any bit of what looks to be a tan, I can promise you it’s from a bottle.

Growing up in Southwest Virginia, a tan was almost mandatory. I mean, Kenny Chesney sings about “tan legs in the broad day light.” I still love the look of a sun kissed glow, but I would prefer to avoid my family dermatologist, Dr. Rash (yes, really, a dermatologist named Dr. Rash), stitching me up again.

If you love the look of a tan without the guilt some of my favorites are St. Tropez (find it at Amazon or Sephora, and do yourself a favor and buy the mitt) or Isle of Paradise (I like the drops that you can use with any moisturizer, but they can be a little harder to find).

You might have to dig around and search beauty supply retailers to find them.

Make sure to exfoliate before and after a few applications, as your color builds so you don’t end up with orange knees/toes/elbows (believe me I’ve been there too).


As the weather gets warmer and you start peeling off winter layers, do yourself a favor and wear sunscreen.

Make sure to slather that child that streaks by you as well.

Keep an option in your car, purse, or gym bag so there is no excuse for not being protected from the sun.

I recommend — and try to practice what I preach — at least SPF 30 if you’re going to be out in the sun for more than a handful of minutes.

Also, if you have a minute, read the column by Mary Schmich for the Chicago Tribune, it’s where the song/lyrics came from for “Always Wear Sunscreen.”

It’s pretty good advice if you ask me.

Jessica Barnett is a Southwest Virginia girl married to a Greeneville native, a mom, personal trainer, certified fitness nutrition specialist, runner, herbivore and ice cream lover. Love Your Health is published every other Wednesday in Greene County’s Accent.