If you’re confused about how to pick a sunscreen, you’re not alone. There are countless sunscreens on the market, not to mention a whole new vocabulary to learn. Here’s some practical advice to help you sort through the sprays and lotions and understand the alphabet soup of SPF, UVA and UVB to find the best sun protection for you and your family.
It’s surprising to note, however, that a higher SPF only offers minimal increased protection. For example, SPF 30 doesn’t provide double the protection of SPF 15. In fact, SPF 15 filters out 93 percent of UVB rays, while SPF 30 filters out 97 percent.
For most people, a normal, every-day coverage of SPF 15 should do the trick. If you have fair skin or a family history of skin cancer, consider a minimum of SPF 30. Many brands offer lotions, lip balms and cosmetics with SPF built into the products, making daily applications nearly effortless.
There is no SPF-equivalent for measuring UVA protection. So pay attention to the sunscreen’s ingredients for effective UVA-blocking components. Keep an eye out for at least one of the following: ecamsule, titanium dioxide, sulisobenzone, avobenzone, oxybenzone or zinc oxide.You’ve found the perfect sunscreen – now use it!
And keep in mind, sunscreens expire. Check the expiration date on the bottle and toss it in the trash if it’s past its prime.Beyond sunscreen
- Cover up with clothes: Wearing wide-brim hats, long-sleeve shirts, pants, sunglasses or swim shirts are all simple options to help protect your skin from the sun.
- Avoid peak sun hours: No matter the season or the weather, the sun’s rays are generally strongest between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. If possible, limit your time outside during these hours.
- Review your medications: Many medications cause phototoxicity, or sun-sensitivity, which occurs when a drug reacts to UV rays. Talk with your provider about your medications and if extra sun protection is necessary.
Find a Provider
Contact your health care provider at Providence with your questions or concerns about sunscreen and skin protection.