Which Comes First, The Sunscreen or The Bug Repellent?


An age old question, as classic and mysterious as the chicken or the egg. No, not really, but they’re both important parts of your backyard summer. You don’t want your skin fried to a painful shade of tomato red, but you also don’t want those unpleasant mosquito bites making you itch for a week. Imagine dealing with both at the same time, ouch!

According to the CDC (the leading source on that pesky West Nile Virus) they recommend using a generous layer of sunscreen, followed by enough bug repellent just to cover your exposed skin. Sunscreen needs to be re-applied every 2 hours, but depending on the “active ingredient” in the bug spray, you may only need it once that afternoon.

What Do The Numbers Mean?
When it comes to sunscreen lotions, sprays, and face sticks are all good effective forms of sunscreen. They come in different types for different skin. Sunscreen is generally considered safe for everyday use and should be used while outdoors despite full sun or cloud cover. Kids putting it on and always wearing it outside is a good start to a healthy lifetime habit. According to WebMD: “To give you an idea of what the numbers mean, an SPF 15 sunscreen blocks 94 percent of UVB rays, SPF 30 blocks 97 percent, SPF 50 blocks 98 percent, and SPF 100 blocks 99 percent. No sunscreen is a 100 percent guarantee, and some doctors argue that ditching your bottle of 30 or 50 for a higher SPF could lead to a false sense of security about staying in the sun longer without reapplying.”

Bug Repellent That Works
Bug repellents vary in so many ways. You can light a citronella candle, wear a bug repelling piece of jewelry, or spray your skin and clothes. DEET is the active ingredient in the most effective personal bug repellents, but it shouldn’t be used on infants. There are a variety of products out there that are natural and safe for infants using natural plant oils like citronella, lemongrass, rosemary and others. They have to be applied more often than your DEET products (every hour as opposed to 4 hours) but are not harmful when used more frequently. Sleeves, pants, and broad brimmed hats are also helpful for sun and insect protection.

When you’re out enjoying the outdoors or relaxing on your newly remodeled back porch, remember to apply sunscreen first, then add the bug repellent.

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