Summer is here. Keep these tips in mind to help choose and use an effective sunscreen:
1) Look for the words “broad spectrum” on the label.
The two types of UV light in sunshine than can damage your skin are called UVA and UVB rays. Sunscreen labeled as “broad spectrum” protects against both types of rays. Only sunscreens that protect against both are allowed to advertise the words “broad spectrum” on the label.
2) If you have sensitive skin, study the ingredients.
Some sunscreens include fragrances or alcohols that can be irritating for sensitive skin. It may also help to look for sunscreen that only uses physical blockers such as titanium dioxide or zinc oxide instead of sunscreen that uses chemical blockers such as oxybenzone, octocrylene, octinoxate, etc. The physical blockers have less risk of irritating the skin.
3) Your makeup might already have an SPF.
For women, tinted moisturizers, foundations and powders commonly include a Sun Protection Factor (SPF). Double-check the label of your daily makeup to see if you are using makeup that includes an SPF of 15 or higher. Unless you typically use a thick layer of make-up, you would still need to use a sunscreen as well. Don’t just rely on your make-up. For the face, look for face moisturizers with sunscreen already in them. These sunscreens usually do not have the typical sunscreen smell and may feel nicer on your skin. Don’t forget to also put sunscreen on your neck and upper chest. Put this on in the morning after you wash your face every day to protect your skin.
Please re-apply sunscreen every 3-4 hours if you are going to be continuously outdoors, get wet or are perspiring.
4) Check for an SPF between 30 and 50 for every day use
Look for an SPF of 30 or higher. SPF 15 filters out 93 percent of rays, SPF 30 keeps out 97 percent and SPF 50 blocks 98 percent. No sunscreen can block 100 percent. For daily use, a sunscreen of at least SPF 30 is recommended. If you will be outdoors for a long time (swimming, hiking, etc) please wear a higher SPF.
5) Decide between cream and spray—or use both!
They each are handy in different situations. You may prefer a cream for yourself, but when applying to children, a spray may be easier. Sprays are also convenient for protecting areas that are hard to apply a cream sunscreen to such as the scalp, back or top of the foot. If you do use a spray, be careful around open flames as some sprays include alcohol and may be flammable.
Whatever sunscreen you choose, the best way to protect your skin from sun damage is to be mindful of exposure. Limit time in the sun, apply sunscreen before you go out and reapply every two hours. You can also consider sun protective clothing or wide-brimmed hats.
Besides sun protection, another excellent health strategy is to schedule a dermatology skin screening. They’re fast, easy and can detect skin irregularities early.
Enjoy the sun this summer (but not too much)!