Sunscreen - Making Your Best Choice
Anyone who has shopped for sunscreen knows how confusing it can be to stand in an aisle full of different products. How do you choose? Which one works best? And why are some sunscreens a lot more money than others?
- UVA & UVB broad spectrum protection
- Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 30
- Consider SPF45+ if you tend to burn easily, rarely tan, have fair skin, a tendency to freckle, have pale coloured eyes, blond or red hair
- People with sensitive skin, prone to breakouts, may prefer oil-free sunscreens
- For children & youth, choose a waterproof product but you must reapply once out of the water!
- Look for a photostabilizer—sunscreen breaks down in light and heat. This ingredient helps keep the sunscreen stable longer. Neutrogena has trademarked their photostabilizer “Helioplex”. Other products often just list ‘photostabilizer’ on their front label or in the ingredients
- Sunscreen is perishable—look for a long expiry date and store in a cool place
- Some sunscreens contain chemical filters, some contain physical filters and some contain both
- Chemical filters: Absorb UVA & UVB rays. (eg. oxybenzone and avobenzone)
- Physical filters: Scatter and reflect UVA &UVB rays (eg. zinc oxide and titanium dioxide)
Each preparation has its uses. Consider who is using the sunscreen, the activity they are doing and how easily they tend to burn.
- Sprays can be very useful but to get even coverage rubbing them in is a good idea
- Try to stay out of the wind or breeze while applying
- Children need to stand still when spray is being applied
- Spray on your hand to apply to the face and ears
- Outdoor workers may prefer sprays because they can reapply to dirty skin without rubbing in which is better than not reapplying at all
Higher priced sunscreens may have a more appealing feel. Active ingredients—what makes sunscreen work, are added to the lotion also called the ‘vehicle’ of sunscreen. Higher end sunscreens may have a preferable ‘vehicle’. What appeals to one person may not be someone else’s choice.
- Particularly good for the nose, bridge of the cheeks, and rim of the ears—then apply your lotion or spray over top for complete protection
- Good products for people that easily burn, are at higher risk for developing skin cancer or have already had a skin cancer
- One teaspoon for your face
- The amount you can hold in your palm (roughly the size of a golf ball) for your body
- Not using enough Sunscreen
- Not reapplying every 2 hours
Don’t leave sunscreen in a vehicle for long periods of time. Heat and light break down the ingredients that make sunscreen effective. If you are headed to the beach or picnicking, toss your sunscreen in the cooler in a Ziploc bag or in a side compartment.
…intended to extend the time you are exposed to UV rays
Sunscreen is meant to protect you while you are outside. What works for you, may not be your friend or sibling’s best choice. Keep trying until you find the product to prevent sunburns best for you.
Remember to combine sunscreen with other sun smart behaviours like seeking shade and covering up.