Wearing sunscreen daily is one of the BEST things that you can do for your skin. I get asked all time what type of sunscreens to use, when to apply, how much etc. I am putting together some of my thoughts here with the hope that this will be helpful to some.
SPF The Basics
SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor
Wear sunscreen in all seasons every day! If not on whole body, at least apply to face and chest.
Wear sun protective clothing – Clothing brands with Ultraviolent Protection Factor (UPF) make wide-brimmed hats, shirts, pants, dresses, gloves, etc. (Coolibar, Cabana Life, Colombia). This helps give the skin an additional layer of protection.
Seek Shade - The sun is strongest between 10AM and 2PM. Avoid staying out in the sun during this time for extended periods. If a must, apply SPF and wear protective clothing to minimize damage.
Question... "What’s the difference between sunblock and sunscreen?
All sunblocks and sunscreens are now called “sunscreens” per the FDA standard. There are two main types of sunscreens: Physical and Chemical
Chemical Sunscreens (usually a spray) take 15-20 minutes to take effect.
Physical Sunscreen (cream/lotion) use active ingredients like Zinc oxide or Titanium dioxide and work immediately after applying.
SUNSCREEN MUST BE APPLIED TO MANUFACTURER INSTRUCTIONS TO BE BENEFICIAL.
Question... "What kind of sunscreen should I use? How should I apply?"
Look for “broad-spectrum” on the bottle - this means that it protects against both UVA and UVB rays.
Use at least SPF 30. Higher SPF can block more UV rays; however, no sunscreen can block 100% of UVB rays.
Make sure it says “water-resistant” if swimming or sweating.
Reapply every 2 hours, or more frequently if swimming/sweating. This is KEY.
The best sunscreen is the one you’re going to use - there are many good brands out there. Choose a formula and application method that works for you.
Question... "When should I wear sunscreen?"
Wear sunscreen every day on your face and other sun-exposed regions.
Apply chemical sunscreens to dry skin 15 minutes BEFORE going outdoors. Remember the lips with a lip balm with SPF and your eyes with Sunglasses!
Question... "Who should wear sunscreen?"
Everyone needs to wear sunscreen. Anyone has the protentional to develop skin cancer, regardless of age, race or gender. It’s estimated that 1/5 Americans develop skin cancer in their lifetime. Skin cancer can be highly treatable if caught early.
Question... "What about getting a “base tan?"
There is no such thing as a “healthy” tan. Getting a “base tan” will not protect you from the damaging UV rays. This will just make you less likely to burn. The damage however will still happen.
Please do avoid tanning beds! Younger and younger age brackets are dealing with melanoma and other skin cancers as a result of tanning bed use. There is a time and a place where you may be prescribed to use a tanning bed to help with certain skin challenges - get that OK from your PCP or dermatologist.