Well, the summer is upon us and it is time to head to the beach! As everyone’s Vitamin D goes up in summer, let’s not forget to put on that sunscreen to prevent skin cancer, skin aging and those nasty wrinkles! But there are just so many products out there so how do you pick what’s right? Well, this article will give you some tips on what we look for when picking the best sunscreen.
One of the most important things to look for when selecting sunscreen is that it should be “Broad Spectrum”. This means that these products protect you against both UVA AND UVB. UVA causes aging and wrinkles, whereas UVB causes most of the sun related skin cancers, sun burns, and inflammation–you need protection from both.
I recommend products which have Titanium Dioxide or Zinc Oxideas their sunscreen agent. These agents are more stable and tend to cause less skin irritation.
I recommend using SPF of 30 or higher, this is because most of us don’t use the recommended amount of sunscreen on our bodies (which is about 1 oz or 30ml at each application for an adult) so using the higher SPF of 30 or more helps compensate. There is no linear relationship with the amount of protection to the level of SPF–so if a product has SPF of 100, it doesn’t mean that it gives you TWICE the protection than SPF 50–it definitely gives you more than SPF 50 but it may not justify the cost. The greater the SPF the sticker the sunscreen can be so pick something that goes on smoothly so you are more likely to continue using it!
Sunscreens should be applied 15 to 30 minutes before sun exposure. This gives enough time for a protective layer to form over the skin. Don’t forget to REAPPLY! You should reapply your sunscreen at least every 2 hours. Sweating and getting in water will wash the sunscreen away, so you need to reapply after each water exposure and after excessive sweating (like after playing beach volleyball or running!). Even if your sunscreen says its water proof, you still need to reapply. In Fact, the FDA will no longer allow products to be labeled as “water-proof” or “sweat-proof” as it is misleading.
Makeup and facial moisturizers that have SPF included in them are good to use as they increase compliance so go ahead and use them!
I recommend all my patients use sunscreen; regardless of the color of their skin! Lighter skin is more likely to have sun damage, aging, burns and skin cancer risk compared to darker colored skin; however, it is important for everyone to use sunscreen! So even though that extra melanin pigment is protecting you, give it a little extra help!
American Academy of Pediatrics recommends avoiding the use of sunscreen in children younger than 6 months of age. It is recommended to have them wear sun protective clothing and keep them in the shade. If sun protective clothing or shade are not available then a small amount of SPF 15 sunscreen can be applied to small areas like the child’s face, top of their ears and back of hands.