This article originally published in Aug. 2021.
Editor’s Note: Just because summer is winding down, doesn’t mean it’s time to put that sunscreen away! Hot temps are expected well after Labor Day. That’s why we’re pleased to feature this article by skin-care expert Carla Trail, who provides dermatology services here at Fast Pace Health. We want you and your family to continue to be protected while enjoying the outdoors! You may just want to save this article to reference year-round!
By Carla Trail, FNP-C
Provider of Dermatology Services
Fast Pace Health
What kind of sunscreens are there? How do I know which one to get?
I get asked these questions many times. Chemical sunscreens and mineral sunscreens have an SPF of 4 to 110. SPF stands for sun protection factor. It is a measurement of how much solar energy, or UV radiation, is required to produce a sunburn on protected skin (i.e., with sunscreen) as compared to the amount of solar energy required to produce sunburn on unprotected skin. As the SPF value increases, sunburn protection increases.
A minimum of SPF 30 is recommended for daily use and reapplied every 90 to 120 minutes. There isn’t a huge difference in the protection factor of an SPF 30 and a higher one. My biggest tip is to always use lotion sunscreen, which is first applied before putting on your bathing suit. Then, you may use spray sunscreen to reapply. I don’t feel like spraying at first provides good enough protection.
Chemical sunscreen contains organic, or carbon-based, compounds such as oxybenzone, octinoxate, octisalate and avobenzone, which create a chemical reaction. It works by absorbing UV rays and changing them into heat. The sunscreen then releases that heat from the skin. As a result, UV rays are not absorbed by the skin. So what are the advantages and disadvantages?
Chemical Sunscreen Pros:
Chemical Sunscreen Cons:
Like chemical sunscreen, physical sunscreen contains active mineral ingredients such as titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. Physical sunscreens work by sitting on top of the skin to form a shield. They scatter damaging UV rays away from the skin. This is why they are often referred to as physical blockers.
Physical Sunscreen Pros:
Physical Sunscreen Cons:
How do I choose the best sunscreen for my face?
How do I choose the best sunscreen for my kids?
My personal favorites:
This has been my most recent favorite find for a daily face sunscreen. It is tinted with a glow effect which has allowed me to not need any type of makeup.
I love face sticks! Especially for my kids so they actually get their noses, ears and necks good. I keep one in all my kids’ ball bags and one in my purse for ball games.
Don’t forget your lips !!!! Lips get so much sun without anyone realizing it. Skin cancers are not easy to remove from these areas.
Probably one of the best overall hydrating mineral sunscreens.
This one is great for people who suffer from eczema, sensitive and dry skin.
This is my number one go to for people who say they are allergic/sensitive to many sunscreens or are super fair and burn excessively.
This is a great option for those teens fighting acne breakouts.
At the end of the day, my best advice is to find a sunscreen you like and will consistently use and reapply. Reapplication is where most people fail and get burned. Sunscreen needs to be reapplied every 90 minutes, so approximately four times in a six-hour day in the sun. I also try to limit what skin is exposed to, especially in my children. The long sleeve rash guard bathing suits are amazing with a wide brim hat and sunglasses.
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