So you’re out of sunscreen… you run to the store to buy more before a nice Saturday at the beach… but there are literally hundreds of brands, varieties and kinds to choose from these days- how do you know what to purchase?
At Germain Dermatology we more than understand the confusion of information and overwhelming task of buying sunscreen especially when you are searching for the right protection for your little ones, but we are here to help.
Here is what to look for and avoid and to seek out when refilling before greeting the Summer sun:
– Look for sunscreens or sunblocks labeled mineral or physical opposed to chemical. While there are many speculations and opposing facts on whether chemical sunscreens can do harm or long term damage Dr. Germain suggests it is always better to be proactive and cautious when it comes to your health and your protection.
– Avoid oils and most gels. Most oils do not contain sufficient amounts of sunscreen and usually have an SPF of less than 2. Gels and oils also tend to sweat off easier requiring more frequent applications.
– ALWAYS go with a ‘Broad Spectrum’ variety (also labeled as UVA/UVB protection or Multi-Spectrum). Broad spectrum sunscreen protects against UVB and UVA radiation giving you the best protection. Non Broad Spectrum sunscreen does not protect against UVA rays which cause premature aging and wrinkles. The SPF level is only related to the protection of UVB rays so even high levels can still allow UVA damage.
– Look for UVA-blocking ingredients including zinc oxide which blocks the reflection of the sun more successfully than ingredients like titanium dioxide.
– SPF of 30 is adequate protection when reapplied and used properly. Dr. Germain suggests using 30-50 SPF on a daily basis, year round. An SPF 15 product blocks about 94% of UVB rays; an SPF 30 product blocks 97% of UVB rays; and an SPF 45 product blocks about 98% of rays. Sunscreens with higher SPF ratings block slightly more UVB rays, but none offers 100% protection leaving SPF 30 as the dermatologist recommended standard.
– Apply MORE and often. Most people apply from only 0.5 to one milligram per square centimeter of skin. Consequently, the actual SPF they achieve is approximately 1/3 of the labeled value.