How to pick the right sunscreen for you!

With all the talk about sunscreen lately you might be confused about what brand to pick or even what sunscreen does. In this blog post I will do my best to clarify any sunscreen confusion you may have!

Sunscreens are made from different ingredients that block UV radiation from the sun. What are the types of UV radiation and what do they do to the skin exactly? Ultraviolet (UV) radiation comes in two main types, UVA and UVB. UVA is a longer wavelength that is responsible for the signs of skin aging, such as wrinkles and sagging. UVB is a shorter wavelength responsible for the reddening of the skin aka sunburns. Both rays can cause skin cancer. Sunscreens have a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) that measures it’s ability to prevent UVB damage to the skin. When deciding between a  SPF level the Skin Cancer Association recommends buying anything between SPF 15 and 50. To understand this better they state that SPF 15 blocks out 93% of the rays, SPF 30 blocks 97%, and SPF 50 blocks 98%. The term “Broad-Spectrum Sunscreen” means that sunscreen protects from both UVA and UVB rays. No sunscreen is water or sweat proof but if you are active it’s recommended you buy a sunscreen that is labeled “Water/Sweat Resistant” because they are less likely to drip into your eyes on a hot day. Sunscreen should be applied 30 minutes prior to sun exposure and then again every 2 hours or immediately after heavy sweating or swimming.

Everyone older than six months should be wearing sunscreen and sun protection (hats, sunglasses, protective clothing). Babies under six months should not be exposed to the sun. Their skin is too sensitive to the sun’s UV rays and the chemicals in sunscreens. Instead babies should have on sun protective clothing, hats, and sunglasses. But wait, chemical sunscreens?! This is a big concern to many but most people don’t really know what that even means. The definition of a physical sunscreen is a mineral such as zinc or titanium dioxide that sits on top of the skin to deflect UV rays. The definition of a chemical sunscreen is an organic compound like oxybenzone or avobenzone that is absorbed into the skin and then causes a chemical reaction with the UV rays turning them into heat and releasing that heat from the skin. Many sunscreens mix physical and chemical protection. Physical sunscreens are best for people with sensitive skin or rosacea, but can be thick, white, and sweat off easily. Chemical sunscreens are more aesthetically pleasing and are easier to apply but can cause irritation of the skin and stinging if it drips into the eyes. The Skin Cancer Foundation states that controversial sunscreen ingredients such as retinyl palmate and oxybenzone are safe when used as directed and that the data against it is not properly reviewed by experts in photomedicine. They recommend wearing sunscreen daily, sun protective clothing, and avoiding the sun during peak daylight hours so to not increase your risks of skin cancer and skin aging. Click here to search sunscreens with the Skin Cancer Foundation’s seal of approval.

This summer we will be running a 10% off special on all our physician recommended sunscreens! Be sun smart and enjoy your summer! As always remember to click here to sign up for our great cosmetic specials.

Denver Dermatology Center


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