Choosing Sunscreen

The days are getting longer and there is more time for fun in the sun.  This means you are also at a higher risk of sunburn. Sunburn is uncomfortable and irritating, but in the long term it can be very dangerous: skin cancer is by far the most common type of cancer in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS)Applying sunscreen is an important part of avoiding sunburn and skin cancer.

There are a few factors to consider when choosing a sunscreen.  Always choose a product that is “broad spectrum.” Broad spectrum sunscreens protect against both UVA and UVB rays, meaning they help protect against skin cancer and skin aging, and not just sunburn.

ACS recommends a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more:

Make sure your sunscreen has a sun protection factor (SPF) 30 or higher. The SPF number is the level of protection the sunscreen provides against UVB rays. Higher SPF numbers do mean more protection, but the higher you go, the smaller the difference becomes. SPF 15 sunscreens filter out about 93% of UVB rays, while SPF 30 sunscreens filter out about 97%, SPF 50 sunscreens about 98%, and SPF 100 about 99%. No sunscreen protects you completely. The FDA requires any sunscreen with SPF below 15 to carry a warning that it only protects against sunburn, not skin cancer or skin aging.

Keep in mind that no sunscreen is waterproof, only water resistant.  “Water resistant” sunscreens maintain their SPF for 40 minutes, while “Very water resistant” sunscreens maintain their SPF for 80 minutes.  “The best sunscreen is one that you’ll use generously and according to label directions.” Always reapply! (The Mayo Clinic).

This information is not a substitute for medical advice nor is it intended as such. If you have questions about your health please contact your primary care physician, our offices, or 911 in case of an emergency.