Think again! Sunscreen protection can vary significantly depending on which sunscreen you choose. First, there is the Sun Protection Factor (SPF), which most folks know about but don’t always understand. Choosing an SPF of say 15, thinking you will still get a nice tan but not burn, is actually not a great choice. Let’s face the facts, tanning is just not safe. So, when heading outdoors, Dermatologists recommend using a sunscreen with at least an SPF of 30 and reapplying every 2 hours. If you are going to be out for an extended period of time and plan on getting wet, or think you will be perspiring a lot, consider choosing a water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 50 or higher.
Another choice is whether to buy Physical or Chemical sunscreens. Physical or mineral sunscreens (made with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide) sit on top of the skin and deflect UV rays, while chemical sunscreens work by absorbing UV rays. If your skin is sensitive or acne-prone, mineral sunscreens are usually the better choice.
Another important thing to look for when choosing sunscreen is Broad Spectrum. Historically, sunscreens have been effective at blocking the more prevalent UVA rays and have not been as effective with UVB. In recent years, Broad Spectrum sunscreens have been introduced which protect from both UVA and UVB rays. It is important to protect your skin from both types of UV exposure. UVA rays, with longer wavelengths, penetrate your skin more deeply and cause damage and premature aging while UVB rays cause sunburns. Most important to know is that BOTH can cause skin cancer.