With so many different choices of sunscreens available on the market, isn't it hard to know which one is right for you! The shelves are lined with different brands, numerical values and all of them claim to be the best! Let me provide you with a little information about sunscreens so the next time you are ready to buy, you are prepared with the knowledge to buy the right one.
First, you want to buy a sunscreen that says "Broad-Spectrum" or "Full-Spectrum." Broad-Spectrum sunscreens will protect you from both UVA (ultraviolet A) and UVB (ultraviolet B) rays. UVA rays are those pesky rays that cause premature aging on your skin, like dark spots and wrinkles. UVB rays are the rays that are responsible for burning your skin. Ouch! However, both rays can be responsible for skin cancer. Using a Broad-Spectrum sunscreen will give you maximum protection.
Second, let's discuss the number on the bottle. The number on the bottle is the "SPF" or "sun protection factor." This is a calculation based on your burning time (UVB, not UVA) with and without sunscreen. For example, think about how long it takes you to burn when you go out in the sun with no sunscreen at all. Let's say it takes you 5 minutes to get a sunburn, without sunscreen. If your sunscreen says SPF 50, then simply multiply your "burning time," which is 5 minutes, by the number on your bottle, which is 50. That would give you 250. So, what does that number mean? It's telling you that in 250 minutes you will need to reapply your sunscreen as it is no longer effective. Please keep in mind that any number over SPF 50 is not proven to do anything more for you. So, when purchasing, only buy a minimum of 30 and maximum of 50. As a good rule of thumb, reapply every two hours. If you are swimming, you will want to reapply sooner, even if your sunscreen says water-resistant. Remember to apply thoroughly and generously or no matter what the number says it won't be protecting you!
Now, to offer you just a little more information so you can be fully equipped with your sunscreen facts, let's talk about chemical vs. physical sunscreens. These sunscreens are typically less irritating to the skin, making it ideal for children, or those who have sensitive skin, experience rosacea or redness, or have just received a chemical peel. A physical sunscreen has active mineral ingredients such as zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide. Physical sunscreens reflect and scatter the light. They tend to leave a white-ish look on the skin.
In contrast, chemical sunscreen absorbs the light and converts it into small amounts of heat. Chemical Sunscreens contain ingredients such as oxybenzone, octinoxate, octisalate and avobenzone. These sunscreens tend to be thinner and spread more easily. They require about 20 minutes after application before it starts to work. It may clog pores on more oily skin and can cause stinging and irritation for more sensitive skin types.
Now that you are fully equipped with sunscreen knowledge you are ready to purchase the one that works best for you and your family. The brand you decide upon doesn't matter, as long as it is Broad-Spectrum, has an SPF of at least 30, applied thoroughly, reapplied every 2 hours and don't forget to check the expiration date. Now that you have checked all the boxes, throw your sunscreen in your beach bag, go out for the day and enjoy every minute!
"UV radiation: Ultraviolet radiation. Invisible rays that are part of the energy that comes from the sun, can burn the skin, and cause skin cancer. UV radiation is made up of three types of rays -- ultraviolet A (UVA), ultraviolet B (UVB), and ultraviolet C (UVC)."