With changing ingredients and labels, finding the right sunscreen can be confusing! So how do you know which kind is best sunscreen for you? Here are five things to check when you buy your next sunscreen:
- Choose a sunscreen with at least a 30 SPF. Keep in mind: the higher the SPF, the smaller the increased benefit. SPF 30 is not twice as strong as SPF 15. SPF 15 filters out 93 percent of sun rays, while SPF 30 filters out 97 percent.
- Go for a broad-spectrum sunscreen.This means it protects skin against UVA and UVB rays.
- Some sunscreens are gentler than others.Shopping for kids or someone with sensitive skin? Avoid sunscreens with para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA) and benzephenones like dioxybenzone, oxybenzone, or sulisobenzone. Look for sunscreens that contain titanium dioxide and zinc oxide; these ingredients are less likely to irritate the skin.
- Sunscreens are no longer allowed to be labeled waterproof.Choose one that is water resistant. But remember, even water resistant sunscreens are only effective for 40 to 80 minutes. So be sure to reapply every two hours or immediately after swimming, sweating, or toweling off.
- Check the expiration date! Sunscreens are designed to be effective for up to three years. If you have a bottle that is within the expiration date, shake it up to remix the ingredients. If it is past the expiration date, throw it away!
When it comes to certain ingredients, proceed with caution.
Some experts recommend avoiding vitamin A additives (retinyl palmilate, retinyl acetate, retinyl linoleate, and retinol). Studies have shown that this antioxidant may speed the development of skin cancer when used in the presence of sunlight.
It’s important to note that these ingredients are still considered safe by the FDA. However, researchers and experts have been debating their safety.
Oxybenzone is another ingredient to avoid. This synthetic estrogren may disrupt the hormone system. Instead choose sunscreens with zinc oxide, 3% avobenzone, or Mexoryl SX.
Sunscreen is only one part of sun protection. Some additional sun safety tips include:
- Avoid sun during peak hours between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
- Seek shade whenever possible.
- Don’t forget to wear a shirt, hat, and sunglasses!