How to Choose the Best Suncscreen Lotion
Choosing a sunscreen isn’t as simple as it used to be. There are so many options out there for every skin type.
And while choosing the best sunscreen lotion is important, perhaps even more crucial is using it correctly — something a lot of us don’t do.
Here is some great information I found on Oprah.com.
In the SPF numbers game, Neutrogena has taken a decisive lead with its new Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunblock SPF 100+ ($12, drugstores). I actually instead use CVS/pharmacy Ultra Sheer Lotion as it has the same ingredients and only costs $9.99. (note: I use SPF 55 however). And as I’m getting older, I also invest in a lotion for the face as it doesn’t clog my pores. I tend to buy generic as most have the same ingredients at less cost.
But really, does anyone need an SPF that high?
The answer depends on how much sunscreen you apply. If you slather on the same amount used to establish SPF values (about half a teaspoon on your face alone), 97 percent of skin-reddening UVB rays are blocked by an SPF 30, 99 percent by an SPF 100.
Here’s the problem…”Most people apply 25 to 50 percent of the amount of sunscreen used to determine SPF,” says James M. Spencer, MD, associate clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Half the necessary dosage will yield only about one-third of the listed SPF. So a higher number is a nice insurance policy: Go easy on an SPF 100, and you’re still left with an SPF of about 30. Even a triple-digit SPF, though, must be reapplied every two hours (all sunscreen eventually degrades in the sun) or after swimming. And SPF measures protection only against UVB rays, not UVA, which also contribute to skin aging and cancer.
Sunscreens that contain Helioplex (like Neutrogena’s Ultra Sheer line) are a great bet, says Spencer—they have a well-stabilized (meaning it stays active longer) form of avobenzone, a highly effective UVA filter.
Also keep this in mind. You’ll want a sunscreen with broad-spectrum or multi-spectrum protection for both UVB and UVA. Ingredients with broad-spectrum protection include benzophenones (oxybenzone), cinnamates (octylmethyl cinnamate and cinoxate), sulisobenzone, salicylates,titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, avobenzone (Parsol 1789) and ecamsule (Mexoryl SX).
- SPF 15 or higher for UVB protection. The SPF factor rates how effective the sunscreen is in preventing sunburn caused by UVB rays. If you’d normally burn in 10 minutes, SPF 15 multiplies that by a factor of 15, meaning you could go 150 minutes before burning. Keep in mind that the higher the SPF, the smaller the increased benefit: contrary to what you might think, SPF 30 isn’t twice as strong as SPF 15. While SPF 15 filters out 93% of UVB, SPF 30 filters out 97%, only a slight improvement.
- UVA protection. When it comes to UVA protection, you need to pay attention to the ingredients. Look for a sunscreen that contains at least one of the following, ecamsule, avobenzone, oxybenzone, titanium dioxide, sulisobenzone, or zinc oxide. Any of those should do the trick.
- Water and sweat resistance. If you’re going to be active or in the water, it’s worth getting a sunscreen resistant to water and sweat. The FDA defines water resistant sunscreen as meaning that the SPF level stays effective after 40 minutes in the water. Very water resistant means it holds after 80 minutes of being in the water. Reapply them regularly if you’re taking a dip.
- Kid-friendly sunscreen. The sensitive skin of babies and children is easily irritated by chemicals in adult sunscreens, so avoid sunscreens with para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA) and benzephenones like dioxybenzone, oxybenzone, or sulisobenzone. Children’s sunscreens use ingredients less likely to irritate the skin, like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. Unlike chemical ingredients, these protect babies’ skin without being absorbed, Fairbrother says.For kids 6 months or older, look for a sunscreen designed for children with an SPF of 15 or higher. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies under 6 months be kept out of the sun altogether.
- Sunscreen for skin problems or allergies. People who have sensitive skin or skin conditions like rosacea may also benefit from using sunscreens designed for children. Go for titanium dioxide or zinc oxide instead of chemicals like para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA), dioxybenzone, oxybenzone, or sulisobenzone. If you have skin irritation or allergies, avoid sunscreens with alcohol, fragrances, or preservatives.
Sunscreen is an important part of a sun protection regimen that should also include seeking the shade, avoiding UV tanning, and wearing protective clothing, including a broad-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses. By educating yourself about your many sunscreen options, you can be confident that the product you choose will fit your particular needs, offering you the best protection from the sun’s harmful rays — and helping to ensure that you use it regularly. After all, the sunscreen you apply consistently is the best sunscreen of all.
Some information gathered from WebMD.