Choosing The Right Sunscreen

July 7, 2014

Choosing a sunscreen seems simple, but with so many brands and variations available on the shelf, deciding which product best meets your needs can be difficult.

  1. Always choose a broad-spectrum or multi-spectrum sunscreen that protects you from both UVB and UVA rays.
    UVB rays cause sunburn, the SPF (sun protection factor) listed on a bottle refers to that product’s ability to block UVB rays. Although UVA rays do not cause sunburn, they will penetrate deep into the skin, causing wrinkles and other skin changes. Since exposure to UVA rays can also increase your risk of developing skin cancer, it’s important to use sunscreen products that block both UVB and UVA rays.
  1. Use products with an SPF of 15 or higher for adequate UVB protection. If you would normally develop sunburn after 10 minutes of exposure, applying a product with an SPF of 15 will multiply that by a factor of 15, meaning you could go 150 minutes before burning. Determining exactly which SPF is right for you depends on your skin type and if you have any underlying skin conditions or sensitivities. SPF 15 is effective for most people, those with fair skin, freckles, or light hair should use products with higher SPFs. Individuals spending extended amounts of time in the sun or who have family members that have developed skin cancer should also opt for sunscreens containing higher SFPs.
  1. Water or sweat resistance options. If you will be exercising or enjoying the water poolside or at the beach, make sure you purchase a sunscreen that is water and sweat resistant. These products are not waterproof, so don’t forget to reapply regularly.
  1. Kid-friendly and sensitive skin sunscreen.
    These products are often made without ingredients like alcohol and certain fragrances or preservatives that can be more irritating to those with sensitive skin.

While choosing the right sunscreen is important, applying it correctly is essential for proper protection against the harmful effects of the sun. Apply before you go outside using a thick layer on all parts of exposed skin. Remember sunscreen wears off, reapply if you have been out in the sun for more than 2 hours or after swimming or exercising.

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