What Type of Sunscreen Should I Use?
Sunlight consists of two types of harmful rays that reach the earth — UVA rays and UVB rays. Overexposure to either can lead to skin cancer.
- UVA rays (or aging rays) can prematurely age your skin, causing wrinkles and age spots, and can pass through window glass.
- UVB rays (or burning rays) are the primary cause of sunburn and are blocked by window glass.
The best type of sunscreen is one that offers broad-spectrum (UVA and UVB) protection, has an SPF of 30 or higher and is water-resistant.
The kind of sunscreen you use is a matter of personal choice, and may vary depending on the area of the body to be protected.
- Creams are best for dry skin and the face.
- Gels are good for hairy areas, such as the scalp or male chest.
- Sticks are good to use around the eyes.
- Sprays are sometimes preferred by parents since they are easy to apply to children.
Regardless of which sunscreen you choose, be sure to apply it generously to achieve the UV protection indicated on the product label.
Dermatologists recommend using a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, which blocks 97 percent of the sun's UVB rays. Higher-number SPFs block slightly more of the sun's UVB rays, but no sunscreen can block 100 percent of the sun's UVB rays.
It is also important to remember that high-number SPFs last the same amount of time as low-number SPFs. A high-number SPF does not allow you to spend additional time outdoors without reapplication. Sunscreens should be reapplied approximately every two hours when outdoors, even on cloudy days, and after swimming or sweating, according to the directions on the bottle.