The importance of protecting yourself and your family from the sun’s rays can’t be understated, especially as we head into the summer season, when many of us will be enjoying the warm and sunny great outdoors. Sun protection ranges from hats, sunglasses and UV protection clothing, to sunscreen, sprays, and sunblock. The type of sun protection that will work best on any given day depends on where you will be and how long you plan to be outside. But did you also know that the sun protection you choose can also affect your health and the health of the environment? Check out these tips for a safer, healthier time in the sun.

Don’t use old sunscreen. The bottles and tubes that have been sitting on your shelf since last year might not offer effective protection. The ingredients in sun protection products start to lose their potency, so putting them on may not protect you as well as you think. Plus, if you have lots of half used bottles around, you may not be applying enough sunscreen. In order for it to work right, it needs to be applied about every two hours, and more often if you are swimming or sweating. In order to apply enough, use the shot glass rule: one shot glass should cover your entire body.

Check the ingredients carefully. Do you know what’s listed on your bottles of sun protection? Some of the ingredients (or known effects of common ingredients) may surprise you. If your bottle lists oxybenzone, proceed with caution. This FDA-approved ingredient is a known carcinogen, and could disrupt hormones. Spray suntans, while incredibly convenient, can also pose a health threat when you inhale the tiny particles.

There are many sunscreens available that are health and Eco-friendly. Look for a product that contains zinc oxide or other minerals. These offer effective protection and are better for your health.

Think of the Earth when disposing of sunscreen. Make sure that if you throw out your old sunscreen products, you check to see if the package is recyclable. You can also clean out and reuse some bottles, which is great for the Earth!

Paying attention to what is in the products you buy is also important for the planet. When you wash off your sun protection while swimming, it leaves behind a residue that can cause harm to animals. See if your chosen product is biodegradable, which is better for the health of the lakes, oceans, and creatures who live there.

When it comes to sun protection, there’s a lot to think about. Choose your products carefully, make sure you apply plenty and often, and dispose of the packaging in a responsible way. You’ll have healthier skin, and a healthier planet.