We all know how important it is to wear sunscreen. It’s no secret that the sun emits harmful rays and exposes our skin to ionizing radiation that can ultimately lead to skin cancer. But how can we truly protect ourselves? Using sunscreen anytime we step outside and expose ourselves to direct sunlight is an important step in protecting against skin cancer. Yet, there are dozens, if not hundreds, of different brands of sunscreen. How do you choose the right one? No worries. This guide will help you navigate the sea of sunscreen on the shelves to find the most up-to-date and safe brands for you and your family.
Sunscreen is any substance that either absorbs or reflects the ultraviolet radiation from the sun. There are two main types: chemical sunscreen and physical sunscreen. Chemical sunscreen is what we are most used to. They usually contain chemicals like avobenzone and octisalate. These two ingredients are responsible for absorbing harmful rays before they have a chance to damage your skin and damage your cells. Physical sunscreen, on the other hand, disperses the ultraviolet rays before they reach your skin and typically contains titanium dioxide and zinc oxide.
Recently, the FDA has proposed a rule that requires sunscreen manufacturers to reveal to the public whether or not their products use ingredients that are considered safe. Their studies have revealed that titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are the two sunscreen ingredients that are considered “generally safe and effective.” So when choosing your sunscreen, it may be wise to find products containing these ingredients.
Sunscreen should also contain high SPF numbers. SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor. This number represents the amount of time you can stand in direct sunlight before it begins to burn your skin. So, the higher the SPF number, the longer you are protected. Dermatologists recommend that you use sunscreen that is SPF 30 or higher.
Sunscreens that contain cosmetic ingredients like wrinkle reducers and moisturizers are an added bonus. While the sun’s rays can cause skin cancer, it most certainly creates fine lines, wrinkles, dark spots, and discoloration over time. Who wouldn’t want a sunscreen that doubles as skin cancer prevention and cosmetic treatment?
Water-resistance should also be a priority when choosing a sunscreen. You may not be diving headfirst into a pool, but you will most likely sweat on those hot days when the sun is out and the rays are intense. Water-resistant sunscreen will ensure that you don’t sweat it away, leaving your skin unprotected and vulnerable.
And finally, make sure that you choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen. There are two types of UV rays that reach down from the sun and damage our skin, ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB). UVB is known for doing the most damage and being responsible for skin cancer. UVA, however, was once considered less of a threat and was therefore not included in sunscreen protection. Yet, it’s UVA rays that cause wrinkles, dark spots, and other skin conditions.
Here’s a quick Top 5 guide to the best sunscreen that ticks the above boxes:
This is just a quick list of popular sunscreens. To determine which is really best for you, we encourage you to speak to a dermatologist.
If you are in the Cincinnati, Ohio area and want more information on choosing the right sunscreen for you, our experts at The Dermatology Group are ready to give you the advice and resources you need. Give us a call today!