Skin cancer comes in several different forms and can be caused by just one blistering sunburn in a lifetime. You’ve probably heard about the importance of wearing the appropriate SPF sunscreen products to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays, but here’s what to look for in a facial sunblock specifically.
It can be confusing to know which SPF to choose for your specific skin tone and risk factor. Generally, dermatologists recommend wearing an SPF 15 or higher product on a daily basis -- for indoor activity or light outdoor exposure like driving or walking from your office to your car.
However, if you’re spending a significant amount of time outside -- more than a few minutes -- it’s important to wear a higher SPF. And if you’re particularly at risk of developing skin cancer (you have fair skin and blonde or red hair, you freckle easily, or you have a personal or family history of skin cancer), you need to be wearing SPF 30 or higher on a daily basis, and SPF 50 anytime you’re in direct sunlight.
The problem with many facial sunscreens is that they’re comedogenic or pore-clogging. So the first thing to look for in a facial sunscreen is “non-comedogenic” on the label. Choose a product that is gentle and fragrance-free.
Another phrase to look for on facial sunscreen labels is “broad spectrum,” which means the product protects against both UVA rays -- which age the skin prematurely -- and UVB rays -- which burn the skin. Both UVA and UVB rays are primary contributors to skin cancer as well.
If your skin tends to be on the dry side, opt for sunscreen with hyaluronic acid or ceramides, which can help hydrate the skin by drawing water molecules from the air and locking in moisture. On the other hand, if you have oily skin, a gel-based formula can go on lighter and keep you from getting shiny throughout the day.
While both chemical and mineral sunscreens offer equal levels of protection from the sun’s UV rays, they each have different qualities. Chemical sunscreens tend to go on with a clear sheen, which makes them optimal for people with darker complexions. Mineral sunscreens tend to leave a white residue, but they’re often gentler on sensitive skin. You can try one of each to see which type of formula you like better.
Sunscreen should be applied to a clean face and should generally go on last, after your moisturizer. Use the product liberally and remember to cover not just your entire face but also the front and back of your neck, your ears, and any exposed areas of your scalp (like where you part your hair.)
One final tip: be sure to check your skin regularly through a self-examination and get your moles mapped yearly by a professional. If you’re showing any signs of skin cancer like new or changing moles or bumps, it’s time to get into your dermatologist’s office for a skin cancer screening as soon as possible.
Need a facial sunscreen recommendation or want to get a skin cancer screening? If you’re in the Cincinnati, Ohio area, contact The Dermatology Group today for an appointment.