7 Tips For Sunscreen Shopping to help you think about your sunscreen needs before you start shopping. To help you make better choices when you get ready to buy your skin protection for the sun.
What do you look for when you are shopping for a sunscreen product?
Once I figured out my personal sun risks, my decision was easier.
Before that, I used things like how it smelled? Who do I know who uses that kind? Can I afford it? You know all that important stuff that we take into consideration.
Your risk, reading the label, what SPF, and when to apply. What kind of product and what to avoid. Sunburn and a reasonable substitute for sunscreen in sun blocking clothing.
# 1 What Are Your Risks For Sunburn?
When thinking about shopping for sunscreen it is important to know what your personal risk for sunburn is.
Are you high-risk? Do you have blonde hair, blue or green eyes? Is your skin tone considered fair? Normally, do you turn pink in the sun quickly? Have a freckle or two?
You are high risk and should use a broad spectrum of at least an SPF of 30 if you are only going to out an hour or so. If you are planning a full day in the sun, definitely choose the wide spectrum with an SPF of 50.
With a full day’s exposure, know that staying covered is important.
If you have darker colored hair, and brown eyes to dark brown eyes, you have less risk of sunburn unless:
You have an underlying medical condition that will make your skin react quickly to any sun exposure.
Or if you are taking medication that makes you react to sun exposure.
If you have darker tone skin, it might take you longer to sunburn, but you will when your quota of enough sun is reached. If you have no medical risks, either a medical condition or medication risk, you will be safer for a bit longer.
However, you will reach of point of too much, and you will get a sunburn. Be careful, as you will probably have a sunburn before you realize it. Using a broad spectrum of at least 30 is important for you as well.
Determine your risk level, and match your sunscreen to that level.
# 2 How To Read Sunscreen Labels
When you are shopping for sunscreen, keep an eye out for the words “broad spectrum.” This means that it will protect your skin from the early aging rays as well as the burning rays. Both kinds are damaging your skin.
As well as broad-spectrum, you need to know about the SPF. (Sun Protection Factor) Numbers are used, usually 15, 30, and 50+. Low-risk people can use an SPF of 15 for short exposures to the sun. An all-day outing will mean you at least an SPF of 30 with sun blocking clothing added after a short time.
Even though you may have darker tone skin, you will burn, and often won’t realize the severity of your sunburn as quickly. Just because you have darker tone skin with dark hair and eye color you are not exempt from sunburn risk.
You too must protect your skin from too much sun and increasing your risk of skin cancer.
# 3 Let’s Consider SPF That Is Right For You
Sometimes it is confusing when you consider the SPF range and protection in the product. ( Remember, we are still reading the label)
Not all sunscreens afford proportional protection.
With the SPFs ranging from 5 to100, it can be tricky discerning how much protection each value allows. A higher SPF doesn’t mean double the protection.
SPF 15 can block 93% of UVB radiation.
SPF 30 will block 97%.
But SPF 60 will only block 98%.
While higher SPFs will offer more protection, they won’t offer much more protection than SPF 30.
Dermatologists suggest that people with darker complexions use an SPF of at least 15, while fairer-skinned people should use SPF 30 at a minimum.
In general, try to select SPF 15 or higher because SPFs lower than 15 will provide significantly less protection.
# 4 How Often To Reapply
Your sunscreen doesn’t last all day, so you will need a reapplication schedule. This is where we lose the game with sunscreen as our protection from the sun.
It will wash off or sweat off or rub off. So it’s important to apply and reapply for your protection. How often you should reapply depends on the formulation of the product you use.
Check the label and follow the application instructions as the product recommends. If there are no directions listed, the general rule is to apply your sunscreen every two hours.
Your product label is very important!
# 5 Chemical Sunscreen or Physical Sunscreen
Sunscreens are considered physical sunscreen or chemical sunscreen.
Physical sunscreen has a formula that produces a thicker liquid. It will sit on top of the skin, and spread as you rub it on, and make an actual barrier to reflect the sun.
These are highly recommended, but often users don’t like to use them because the product is visible on most skin. Think like the lifeguard usually uses on his nose and ears. This is a very high protection product, and has had some improvement in the past few years.
The product also comes in tins and sticks and is becoming easier to rub on and blends better with your skin.
Chemical sunscreens are just that, a mix of chemicals. The product is rubbed on the skin. You will need to allow 15 or 20 minutes for the product to work.
The chemicals soak into your skin, causing a reaction that makes the skin produce more melanin to protect itself from the sun. There have been some questions that part of the chemicals used in these products cause some forms of cancer.
The real kicker is that the problem chemicals are not for sun protection but added when the sunscreen is manufactured. The solution as originally formulated was not a stable product. It had no shelf life.
These questionable chemicals are being removed from the products, but stay watchful.
para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA)
# 6 To Help You Choose Your Sunscreen
Another consideration of your sunscreen purchase.
Do you want a quick and easy method of application? Use a spray sunscreen but be aware that you will have to apply it more often.
If you have dry skin, a lotion might be a better option.
Summer fun often includes spending long afternoons in or by water. Remember to reapply your sunscreen, and try to select a “water-resistant” product.
No products are completely “sweat-proof” or “water-proof,” so even with more resistant products, reapplication is necessary.
If you have sensitive skin or skin allergies, sunscreen can offer a challenge. Consider using a product for children or for people who have extra sensitive skin How do you know?
Right, check the label.
Check the label for instructions on when to reapply as well.
# 7 Consider Adding Sun Blocking Clothing
Not everyone can wear sunscreen on their skin. So we have an option that works really well. Sun blocking clothing will go a long way to shield you from the sun.
You start with a sunhat that has a wide brim to shield the sun off your face neck, ears and nose. This is where most skin cancers first are found. These peaky skin cancers are so obvious, and being on your head or face, easy for you to see.
Very often by the time you see a suspicious place on your face or head, there may also be one on your arm, back, leg, or hand. So keep a watch for spots that don’t heal properly.
Besides your sum hat, your need sunglasses. Yes, sunglasses are considered sun blocking clothing! In fact, sunglasses run a close race for importance in your protective wardrobe.
Next, add a loose-fitting long sleeve shirt. The fabric should be tightly woven or specially treated to prevent the sun from getting through to your body. It really is quite simple. Cover up.
Our obsession with allowing the sun to bake our bodies takes its toll. Some are convinced that their skin is OK when sun-baked to really dark tans. They may not immediately have skin cancer, but the aging effect of so much sun takes its toll with lines and wrinkled skin.
Just make the decision with good information. Know that every time you spend more than 20 or so minutes in the sun, you are raising your risk of skin cancer with melanoma being the most serious.
# 8 Uh-0h, The Sun Left You With A Sunburn
I know the title stated only 7 tips, but who doesn’t appreciate a bonus? I wanted to add a bit about taking care of yourself if you do catch yourself with a sunburn. Despite your best efforts, sunburns can still happen.
The first thing to do is get out of and stay out of the sun. A cooled room is best to help your body cool. If the burn is making you sick, a visit to ER may be in order.
If you develop a burn it’s important to treat it immediately so it won’t worsen. A mild shower will help cool your body from the heat. Drinking cool water will also help cool a hot sunburn.
Can’t get to a shower for a cool down? Cool damp cloths can help pull the heat from your body as well.
Avoid the sun and apply aloe or other sunburn medications to soothe the burn. Be sure to read labels to make sure there is no petroleum in the formula. (usually Vaseoline like products) These products will not allow the heat to escape from the sunburn area and cause the burn to deepen. You may need to take aspirin, ibuprofen, or acetaminophen for pain.
After the first 24-48 hours, or until your skin is no longer extra-warm, this heat must be allowed to escape your body. Use the aloe vera-like products until the burn area is cool. Make sure you are drinking enough water to help your body cool.
You can now use skin protectants, such as cocoa butter or Vaseline petroleum jelly to keep clothes from irritating the burn.
Wear light, loose clothing to avoid discomfort.
Consider taking anti-inflammatory medication, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or acetaminophen, to minimize your pain.
Advice From A Pharmacist
When warm weather arrives, we find outdoor activities more attractive. Inevitably we find ourselves spending more time in the sun.
So many products are available. This can make sun protection for you and your family confusing.
It’s important to remember to protect your skin.
Delaney Ivy, PharmD, MSc, BCPS, CDE, clinical assistant professor with the Texas A&M University Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy explains why a vital aspect of your sun protection plan should be sunscreen.
How To Choose Sunscreen
For preventing skin cancer or the risk of another skin disorder, we recommend using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 15.
However, if your skin burns very easily or if you swim or do any vigorous activity outdoors? We recommend at least an SPF of 30.
If these kinds of activities are what you are planning? You want to get a water-resistant sunscreen so that the sunscreen lasts up to 40-80 minutes.
If you are concerned about acne, you want to select a product that states it is non-comedogenic. Do you have sensitive skin? You should choose a sunscreen that has the active ingredient zinc oxide or titanium oxide.
The American Academy of Dermatology Association states the following:
The kind of sunscreen you use is a matter of personal choice and may vary depending on the area of the body to be protected. Available sunscreen options include lotions, creams, gels, ointments, wax sticks, and sprays.
- Creams are best if you have dry skin and for your face.
- Gels work well for hairy areas, such as the scalp or male chest.
- Sticks are good to use around the eyes.
- Sprays are sometimes preferred by parents since they are easy to apply to children. Just remember, you will need to reapply often as sprays offer light coverage.
Make sure that you use enough of these products to thoroughly cover all exposed skin. Do not inhale these products or apply near heat, open flame, or while smoking.
How Do I Keep My Skin Protected?
Pharmacists recommend that you apply sunscreen to all sun-exposed areas of the body at least 15-30 minutes before sun exposure. You should reapply at least every two hours.
They also recommend that you reapply after every episode of swimming, towel drying, or excessive sweating. These are all activities that work to remove your sun-protecting sunscreen.
Is there a pharmacist recommended sunscreen?
If you have an allergic reaction to a sunscreen product, discontinue use and talk to your doctor or pharmacist. They can provide guidance on the products that may work best for you and your family.
Another important thing about sunscreen use is to be aware of the “use by” date. Sunscreen does have an expiration date.
As we are learning to use sun-blocking products, they can help you protect your skin from too much sun. As long as you have the garment on your body, you will be protected.
Sun blocking clothing can make protecting your skin more complete and easier.
Why Is Protection From The Sun Important?
Research is proving that the danger of cumulative exposure to the sun will increase your risk of developing skin cancer. Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer.
Additionally, increased sun exposure can cause premature aging of your skin. Using sunscreen with sun blocking clothing will allow your fun in the sun-times to be safe for you and your family.
Sami’s Take On 7 Tips For Sunscreen Shopping
The research continues to prove that protecting our skin can help reduce your skin cancer risks.
Many feel that skin cancer is a risk only when you get old. While there is some basis to this line of thinking. The results seem to find that skin cancers are showing up in younger patients.
Part of this is thought to happen because of the Ozone thinning, The protection from earlier generations is disappearing. We no longer have that to protect us.
Another reason is thought to be the skimpier clothing that is accepted as the norm. It is a bit less modest and allows more hours of sun on our bodies than we have had in the past.
If you are one who pursues activities that are outside, and you tend to have extended hours in the sun, you need to think about the extra skin protection offered by sun-blocking clothing. Sunscreen is important for your protection and is helped with wearing some clothing.
Take the time to think through your skin-blocking habits and plan how you can stay safer in the sun. Seek shade on long days out in the sun. Take breaks to allow your skin to cool. Apply sunscreen, and cover your skin.