What you Need to know About Using the Right Type of Sunscreen

What you Need to know About Using the Right Type of Sunscreen

Everyone is different, what is the right type of sunscreen for you?

As you know, the sun is constantly bombarding us with ultraviolet light radiation that damages our skin. It is important to protect, protect, protect with good sunscreen to keep our skin looking and feeling healthy! Otherwise, with that sun damage comes an increased risk of skin cancer! With so many sunscreens available it can be a real challenge to know which products to choose and how to use sunscreens properly. Here are a few tips-

Is the SPF on the label, the SPF with the ingredients-  If you look at the Active ingredients in your product, ie. 2% Avobenzone, 7.5% Homosalate and 5% Octocrylene the total is 14.5%. A general rule of thumb is: double that number, plus or minus 10% and your roughly get the SPF 29-30. Too many brands have approx. 10%-12% actives and market as an SPF 50????

A sunscreen should be at least SPF 30-  An SPF 30 protects from 96.7% UV rays. Higher SPF numbers only protect every so slightly more (ie. SPF 50 protects from 98%) as long as it is applied properly. Be sure to apply at least 15 minutes prior to exposure so that it is fully working by the time you are exposed to the sun completely.

A sunscreen should be able to protect against both UVA and UVB-. To ensure broad spectrum coverage (protecting against both UVA and UVB), one must make sure that the sunscreen contains at least ONE of the following:- avobenzone, Mexoryl, zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. Do not buy it if it doesn't contain one!

Zinc Oxide isn't as pasty as it used to be!- If you or anyone who you know has sensitive skin, be sure to only use sunscreen that contains only  titanium or zinc. Many manufacturers have made the physical blocking sunscreens, like those that contain zinc oxide, much more cosmetically appealing. These tend to be less irritating and protects your skin longer. 

Apply liberally! - For creams, one should apply about one ounce in order to cover the entire body. Don't skimp because burning will be inevitable if you do.

Be sure to re-apply every 2 to 3 hours-  Due to the fact that sunscreen is slowly broken down by sunlight, you should re-apply sunscreen often even if you are not swimming or sweating.

Always wear a hat, protective clothing, and look for a spot that is shady- Sunscreens should be combined with protective hats and other clothing and one should try to avoid the peak UV hours which is between 10am and 4pm.

New UV apparel is safe, effective and light weight- UV clothing has been thick, plastic feeling or unfashionable. This is changing and there are UPF 50+ clothes on the market that offer high (99.3%) UV protection and feel great on your skin.

If you are looking to get a dose of Vitamin D, don't rely on the Sun- There has also been controversy about the health benefits of vitamin D and whether sunscreens block us from getting the vitamin D that we need. This issue is best discussed with your doctor who might recommend getting vitamin D levels drawn if they feel you might be at risk of being vitamin D deficient (little daily exposure to UV light). You will want to consider oral vitamin D supplements if strict sun protection practices are being used consistently. Ask your physician if you have additional questions.

What ever you decide, enjoy the sun and keep protected!