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How Do I Choose the Best Sunscreen?

Wearing sunscreen every day is important if you spend any amount of time outdoors. Sunscreen can help to protect your skin from its harmful UVA and UVB rays. This can help to prevent skin cancer and damage such as early wrinkles, freckles, and age spots.

Despite the importance of regularly using sunscreen, some people simply do not wear it. Others do not apply it correctly so that they do not have good protection from the sun. It is also important for you to wear sunscreen every day, including during the winter and when it is overcast outside. The sun’s rays are still able to penetrate through clouds and can cause skin damage even on cloudy or chilly days.

According to a study that was reported by AARP, most people fail to apply sunscreen to 10 percent of their faces, including the areas around their eyes. The AARP notes that this is important because 10 percent of skin cancer occurs on the eyelids. In addition to learning how to apply sunscreen correctly, it is also important for you to understand how to choose the best sunscreen that will give you the best protection.


The sun protection factor of a sunscreen is important because it tells you how effective it is in preventing a sunburn from exposure to UVB rays. The SPF of a sunscreen lets you gauge how long it might protect you from burning. For example, a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 may offer protection to you for up to 15 times longer than the length of time that it would normally take you to burn. A sunscreen’s SPF is the degree to which it filters out UVB rays.

According to Time Magazine, most dermatologists recommend that people choose a sunscreen that is SPF 30 because it will filter out up to 97 percent of the UVB rays. Even if you wear sunscreen with a high SPF, it is important for you to reapply it every couple of hours since you may lose some protection from perspiration.

UVA protection

The SPF of a sunscreen only reveals the effectiveness of it in filtering out UVB rays. It doesn’t mean anything when it comes to UVA rays, however. UVA rays penetrate to the deeper layers of the skin in the dermis.

The Skin Cancer Foundation reports that UVA rays are known to cause photoaging and also may cause damage to skin cells in the basal skin layer where many skin cancers begin. This makes it important for you to choose a sunscreen that offers broad-spectrum protection against both UVA and UVB rays.

Unlike UVB rays, there isn’t an available SPF rating scale that is used for UVA ray protection. You should instead look for a sunscreen that contains ingredients like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, both of which present a physical barrier to the penetration of UVA rays. There are also ingredients that provide a chemical barrier to UVA rays, including avobenzone, ecamsule, and oxybenzone.

Look for a sunscreen that has a high SPF and contains some of these UVA-protecting ingredients. Sunscreen makers are allowed to label their sunscreens as broad-spectrum if they offer protection against both UVA and UVB rays, so choose one with that on the label.

Water resistance

According to the federal Food and Drug Administration, sunscreen makers cannot claim that their sunscreens are waterproof. They may state that the sunscreens are water resistant if they may remain on the skin for either 40 minutes or 80 minutes when applied to the skin. The labels must state whether they provide 40 minutes or 80 minutes of water resistance. If a sunscreen is not water-resistant, the FDA’s rules require them to state on their labels that they recommend that people should use a sunscreen that is water-resistant if they plan to swim or will sweat a lot.

In short, this means that you should look for a sunscreen that states that it is water resistant for up to 80 minutes.

Your skin type

Your skin type is also important when you are choosing the best sunscreen to use. If you are prone to allergies or have very sensitive skin, you might want to choose a kid-friendly sunscreen. Kid-friendly sunscreens do not contain some of the harsher chemicals that are found in adult sunscreens and are good for sensitive skin. Sunscreens that use ingredients like titanium dioxide or zinc oxide are better for people with sensitive skin than those that contain ingredients such as PABA or oxybenzone. If you have oily or dry skin, you can look for a sunscreen that is formulated specifically for those skin types.

Choose a brand that you like

You should purchase a brand that you like when you purchase sunscreen. You are less likely to wear a sunscreen every day if you don’t like how it feels on your skin. Try several that offer high SPFs and broad-spectrum protection until you find a sunscreen that you like the best. Once you have found your preferred sunscreen, make certain that you apply it every day before you go outside. The American Cancer Society also recommends that you reapply your sunscreen at least every two hours during the day and more often if you are swimming or sweating.

Choosing the best sunscreen is important to help to prevent early aging and skin cancer. When you are searching for a sunscreen, it is best for you to look for a product that offers an SPF of at least 30, broad-spectrum protection against both UVA and UVB rays and that is appropriate for your particular type of skin. Because you are unlikely to use a sunscreen that you do not like, it is also important for you to choose a brand that you like so that you will be more likely to wear it every day. Regardless of how terrific your sunscreen might be, it won’t be effective at all if you simply won’t use it.

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