Full Skin Protection With Sunscreen

Northstar Dermatology What Are The Best Types Of Sunscreen To Use
Read Time: 3 minutes

There are two types of ultraviolet (UV) light that can adversely affect your skin. These are UVA and UVB rays. UVA is responsible for age spots, wrinkles, and premature aging. UVB is responsible for sunburn. Over-exposure to both these damaging rays can result in skin cancer. The best type of sunscreen is one that has a high sun protection factor (SPF) and also has a full or broad-spectrum. It will protect the skin from both types of UV rays.

Understanding the SPF

All sunscreens have a designated SPF. This denotes how much protection each one gives from UV rays. For example, a sunscreen with SPF 15 will block 93% of UV rays, SPF 30 will block 97%, and SPF 50 will block 98%. Sunscreens which have a higher SPF than 50 don’t really offer more than 98% protection.  Anyone going outside for at least two hours should use a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15. People who are fair-skinned and burn easily should use a sunscreen with a higher SPF. Sunscreen should be applied generously and evenly every two hours.

What is a broad-spectrum sunscreen?

A broad-spectrum sunscreen offers effective protection against UVB and UVA. The best broad-spectrum sunscreens contain one or more of the following ingredients:

  • Titanium oxide: often combined with zinc oxide, theses substances reflect UV rays rather like a mirror.
  • Octisalate and Oxybenzone: these substances are absorbed by the skin, so they protect at a deeper level than some other sunscreens.
  • Octinoxate: this synthetic ingredient is also absorbed into the skin. Octinoxate is not as stable as other broad-spectrum ingredients, which means it may not be as effective a sunscreen as the others in the long-term.

Water-resistant sunscreen

No one has yet developed a sunscreen that is 100% water or sweat resistant. All water-resistant sunscreens are tested independently and must show that their SPF is in no way impaired during sweating or swimming. Guidelines mandated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) only permit sunscreens to claim sweat or water resistance for 40 or 80 minutes.

Child-friendly sunscreen

Sunscreen is a must for children whenever they are outdoors. Dermatologists recommend that children wear sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. The best sunscreens for children also contain only 100 percent natural ingredients and are lightweight, non-greasy and water-resistant. Wearing the appropriate sunscreen for the outdoor conditions, whatever time of year, is important for minimizing the risk of sunburn and skin cancer.