What You Need to Know About Sunscreen

Summer is finally here which means spending time outdoors and with that comes the stress of selecting a sunscreen. With so many sunscreens on the market, it can be overwhelming to pick one that is right for you. So, before you shop for one this is what you need to know. Choose a sunscreen with a broad-spectrum SPF 30 or higher.

Broad spectrum protects you from both UVA (ultraviolet A radiation) and UVB (ultraviolet B radiation) rays. The difference between UVA and UVB – A rays or UVA has a longer wavelength. These rays penetrate everyday, year round, even through windows and clouds in winter. It is associated with skin aging and can contribute to skin cancer. UVB has a shorter wavelength and is associated with skin burns.

SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor. This is the number that you’ll see on the side of your sunscreen bottle, like SPF 30, for example. A sunscreen with SPF 30 will protect you from around 96.7% of UVB rays, whereas an SPF of 50 means protection from about 98% of UVB rays.

There are two types of sunscreens, chemical and mineral. Mineral sunscreens are physical meaning they work like a shield. It sits on the surface of your skin and deflects the sun’s rays. The main ingredients are titanium dioxide and zinc, minerals that are classified as safe and effective by the FDA. Apply a mineral sunscreen if you plan on spending time outdoors.

However, if you are doing activities like swimming or running where you will be sweating then you will need a chemical sunscreen. Chemical sunscreens works like a sponge absorbing the sun’s rays. Avoid using products that contain oxybenzone.

Growing up we never wore sunscreen in our household because we were told that the sun does not affect darker skin tones. This is a myth! Sun damage including sunburn happens no matter what color the skin. Regardless of skin tone – light to dark, wear sunscreen every day and have a skin exam once a year.

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