Sunscreen is a vital product many use to help prevent skin cancer by blocking the sun’s harmful UV rays from damaging the skin. You have seen them in your local store, claiming all different types of protection but how do you know what is the best sunscreen for your skin? Understanding the types of sunscreens available and their functions will better serve you in protecting your skin.
Sensitive skin or allergic reactions to sunscreen can lead to some people avoiding using sunscreens all together. Sunscreen’s that are chemical-free contain titanium dioxide, zinc oxide or a combination of both. These types of sunscreens are considered “physical blockers” they work by reflecting the suns UV radiation; this is achieved by the metals in the product’s sitting on the skin, but not absorbed by the skin. Physical blockers do not wear off the skin easily but are more prone to be washed or sweated off therefore must be re-applied often. Physical blockers block both the UVB and UVA rays.
Broad spectrum sunscreens often contain avobenzone or oxybenzone to prevent UVA rays from being absorbed by the skin. These types of sunscreens work by absorbing UV radiation within a certain wavelength. Depending on the other ingredients added will determine if broad spectrum sunscreens also block UVB rays.
Water resistant sunscreens will protect the wearer who sweats a lot or is enjoying outside water activities. There is a catch to water resistant and waterproof sunscreens and you must pay close attention to the bottles. Waterproof sunscreen will last on the skin longer providing a longer coverage of protection then water resistant sunscreen. Reading the bottle’s information will supply you with the knowledge of how long the SPF will last while being in the water.
Choose the right SPF to match your needs, while keeping in mind that a higher SPF does not mean double the protection. SPF 30 is only 4 percent higher coverage then SPF 15. If you fall into the higher risk factors for skin cancer you will want to choose a sunscreen that blocks both harmful UV rays UVA and UVB.
If you fall under a combination of needs there are sunscreens that will meet your needs for example if you are fair skinned and love to swim your possible ideal sunscreen would be a broad spectrum waterproof sunscreen that protects against UVA and UVB rays. If you are dark skinned and sweat moderately a water resistant physical blocker sunscreen may work well.
Sunscreens can be purchased from most drug stores, grocery stores or national chain stores. Depending on the store you purchase your sunscreen, the function and the brand sunscreens can range from $3.00 to $15.00 per bottle.
When applying sunscreen you have to remember to apply sunscreen frequently, evenly and liberally. Make sure to cover areas that are exposed to the UV rays adequately, this would include the face, nose, ears, arms, neck, and exposed chest area.
American Academy of Dermatology