How To Choose A Sunscreen

Every year (sometimes daily), we field questions regarding sunscreen selection. The topic is confusing and if you throw in manufacturer claims, slick marketing and the massive array of products to choose from, you’ll know why selecting a sunscreen can often be a daunting task.

Studies have repeatedly shown that exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays is responsible for more than 80% of skin aging. It is also a factor in the development of skin cancer. As we head into summer, discussion about sunscreen becomes important again. New government regulations are coming; and they will help provide clearer guidance regarding sun protection. Here are 5 basic guidelines that I hope will help you to select the right sunscreen for you and your family.

1. Make Smart Sun Practices Part Of Your Life. It would be easy to tell you that you must wear sunscreen every day (and that isn’t a bad idea). However, prevention really is your best bet in avoiding problems down the road. These habits will help keep your skin looking young and healthy for years to come:

  • Stay out of the sun or seek shade during the sun’s peak hours (10 am – 4 pm).
  • Wear big sunglasses to protect the eyes and surrounding skin. A big, fashionable hat will serve you well also.
  • Cover up with long sleeves and pants.

2. Choose A Broad Spectrum Formulation. While UVA rays penetrate deep and cause damage beneath the skin’s surface, UVB rays (those associated with Burning) are responsible for sunburns. Look for products labelled as broad spectrum, which means that they protect against both UVA and UVB rays.

3. Look For A Photostable Product. Photostability means that your sunscreen contains ingredients that will not degrade upon exposure to UV light. Ingredients including Mexoryl SX, Mexoryl XL, Tinosorb M, Tinosorb S, zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are all photostable ingredients found in safe and effective sunscreens. Find these ingredients in Anthelios sunscreens, Ombrelle sunscreens and Keys Solar Rx.

4. Apply Well and Re-apply Often. Studies show that most of us don’t apply enough sunscreen to reap the benefits. In fact, we often only apply about 1/4 to 1/2 of the amount recommended. This is one of the reasons that I recommend a minimum of SPF 30, as improper application of an SPF 30 means that your sunscreen may only be delivering an SPF of 7 to 15.

Not sure how much to apply? Here’s what the American Academy for Dermatology recommends:

  • Use enough sunscreen to generously coat all skin that won’t be covered by clothing. This includes ears, face and hands.
  • This guideline will help to ensure you use enough: One ounce (enough to fill a shot glass) is considered the right amount to cover the exposed areas of the body. It’s better to apply more than less.
  • Apply the sunscreen to dry skin 15 to 30 minutes before going outside.
  • Protect your lips, which are especially prone to damage. Ombrelle Lip Balm SPF 30 comes in a convenient click stick; Ombrelle Face Stick SPF 60 provides protection for all your delicate areas including lips, nose and ears.
  • Re-apply every two hours of after swimming or sweating heavily. Yes, the whole shot glass amount.

5. Sunscreen Isn’t Just For Summer. I wear sunscreen daily, year round. And when I tell people that, I often get strange looks. Surely I can’t burn in winter? Truth is that UVA rays (those associated with Aging) are just as prevalent in winter as they are in summer. These are the rays that penetrate deep, causing damage beneath the skin’s surface that will lead to wrinkles, sagging skin and hyperpigmentation later on. UVA rays are also associated with some types of skin cancer.

When it comes to health and beauty, no other skin care product can touch sunscreen in terms of the benefit it can provide to skin. Choose wisely and wear it regularly and you’ll be rewarded with youthful and healthy skin.