Choosing a Sunscreen
Date Published: January 1st, 1970
Most dermatologists agree that any sunscreen is better than no sunscreen at all. And indeed, it doesn’t need to be fancy to be effective. Knowing a few things about sun exposure risks and how to use sunscreen properly can help you avoid a nasty sunburn – and in turn, lower your risk of skin cancer and premature signs of aging.
All Ultraviolet Rays Are Not Created Equal
Ideally, you need a sunscreen that can protect against both UVB and UVA rays. Both cause damage to the skin, but in different ways.
UVB Rays: The Burning Rays
• Mostly aﬀect the outer layers of the skin
• Cause sunburns and tanning that increase risk of skin cancer
• Vary with time of day, season, and are stronger in summer
UVA Rays: The Aging Rays
• Penetrate deeply in to the skin layers, damaging collagen and cells
• Cause wrinkling, pigmentaton and loss of elastcity
• Can pass through glass (office and vehicle windows!)
• Are not aﬀected by weather or altitude
• Are present all day, every day of the year
• Are up to 50 times more prevalent than UVB rays
• Increase the risk for skin cancer
Sun Protection Formula (SPF)
Choose a sunscreen that has an SPF of 30 or higher, is water resistant, and provides broad-spectrum coverage, which means it protects you from UVA and UVB rays.
For Sensitive Skin
For sensitve skin, look for PABA-free, fragrance-free, and non-comedogenic sunscreens.
The keys to successful sunscreen use are good coverage and diligent re-application.
• Apply sunscreen about 15 minutes before going outdoors.
• Most adults need at least one ounce of sunscreen, about the amount you can hold in your palm, to fully cover all exposed areas of your body. Rub the sunscreen thoroughly into your skin.
• Remember your neck, face, ears, tops of your feet and legs. For hard-to-reach areas like your back, ask someone to help you or use a spray sunscreen.
• If you have thinning hair, either apply sunscreen to your scalp or wear a wide-brimmed hat.
• To protect your lips, apply a lip balm with a SPF of at least 15.
• Reapply sunscreen at least every two hours or immediately afer swimming or excessively sweating.
• Apply sunscreen even on cloudy days and in the winter.
• Remember to apply sunscreen when on snow or water, as the reﬂectve surface can cause serious burns.