Shopping for Sunscreen – What to Look for

When buying sunscreen, check the Sun Protection Factor (SPF). Bigger is better, especially when you will be spending extended periods in the sun. SPF of at least 30 is recommended for prolonged sun exposure, those who burn easily, or those who are taking medication that may make them more sun sensitive.

A higher SPF means more UVB protection, and lessens the need to reapply so often.

Make sure the sunscreen you choose blocks both UVA (ultraviolet A) and UVB (ultraviolet B) rays.

For outdoor recreational activities, choose a waterproof and "sweat-proof" sunscreen.

Exposure to UVA causes effects associated with aging–wrinkles and lines–as it penetrates deeper into the skin. Exposure to UVB damages the outer layers of skin and increases risk of sunburn and skin cancer.

Reportedly, lotions that contain Oxybenzone, Titanium Dioxide, Parsol 1789, and Mexoryl (supposedly most effective, but not yet approved by the FDA) are effective at blocking out some UVA rays.

Don't be stingy with the sunscreen. Apply it amply and generously or you could be cheating yourself out of some protection.

For maximum effectiveness, apply sunscreen approximately fifteen to thirty minutes before sun exposure as it allows it to bond to the skin.

For oily or acne prone skin, choose a gel or spray sunscreen that contains alcohol as it will not be as apt to clog pores. Alternatively, choose a light, water-based sunscreen lotion. Look for the term "non-comedogenic".

For dry skin, choose a sunscreen lotion or cream.

If you have allergies and find it difficult to tolerate normal sunscreens, look for non-chemical sunscreens that contain microfine titanium dioxide or dimethicone coated microfine zinc oxide as the active ingredient.

Moisturizers are often available with some sun protection (my personal favorite), as are many cosmetics. (The sun protection offered in make-up is normally not adequate by itself. Use a true sunscreen product for better protection.)

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