How to choose a sunblock

How to choose a sunblock

Our editors independently selected these items because we think you will enjoy them and might like them at these prices. If you purchase something through our links, we may earn a commission. Pricing and availability are accurate as of publish time. Learn more about Shop TODAY.

Sunnier days are upon us, which means you’ve likely got a few beach trips penciled into your calendar this summer. Beyond flip flops, sunglasses, a towel and a giant umbrella, make sure you’ve saved some room for sunscreen in your beach bag. According to the Centers for Disease Control, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. Sun exposure also causes visible signs of aging like wrinkles and hyperpigmentation.

While sunscreen is probably top of mind for you when the weather heats up, it’s actually good practice to wear it year-round.

Which sunscreen should you choose, though?

For starters, the American Dermatology Association (ADA) recommends one that’s labeled “broad-spectrum,” because this means it protects against both UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays are the ones that prematurely age your skin, causing wrinkles and age spots, while UVB rays cause sunburn. Overexposure to both can lead to skin cancer.

Next, consider the Sun Protection Factor (SPF)

SPF is a measure of how much UVB light a sunscreen can filter out. Dermatologists recommend using an SPF of at least 30, which Adarsh Vijay Mudgil, MD, a dermatologist practicing in New York, calls “the magic number”. SPF 15 blocks about 93 percent of UVB rays, while SPF 30 blocks about 97 percent of UVB rays. The ADA recommends an SPF of 30 or higher.

It’s important to apply enough sunscreen to any exposed area of skin every day. On days you’re going to be outdoors for an extended period of time, say playing golf or at the beach or pool, Mudgil suggests putting a base coat of SPF 30 all over the body a half hour before leaving the house and then reapplying every two hours. If you’re swimming, Mudgil says it’s a good rule of thumb to grab the sunscreen every time you get out of the water.

Remember, no sunscreen can completely protect you from sun so it’s important to always reapply throughout the day, wear protective clothing (hats, sun-protective swimwear, clothing, etc.) and always seek shade.

Pay attention to your skin type as well

“If you have acne or oily skin, make sure that your sunscreen is labeled as ‘non-comedogenic,’ which means that it has been shown not to block pores,” says Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of cosmetic and clinical research, dermatology department, Mount Sinai Hospital. “If you have dry skin, look for moisturizers with sunscreen or sunscreens that contain hydrating ingredients.” (Think: hyaluronic acid or ceramides.)

For sensitive skin, opt for a physical, or mineral, sunscreen, says Emily Smith, MD, dermatologist at University of Missouri Health Care. Physical sunscreen features zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to protect skin; these two ingredients won’t burn or sting eyes, Smith says. They sit on top of your skin, forming a barrier to protect you.

Do you know that some sunscreens can prevent sunburn, reduce your risk of getting skin cancer, and help prevent early signs of skin aging? This infographic tells you how to choose a sunscreen that does all three.

How to choose a sunblock

How to select a sunscreen

Do you know that some sunscreens can prevent sunburn, reduce your risk of getting skin cancer, and help prevent early signs of skin aging? This infographic tells you how to choose a sunscreen that does all three.

When selecting a sunscreen, make sure the label says:

Broad spectrum: The words “broad spectrum” means that the sunscreen can protect your skin from both types of harmful UV rays — the UVA rays and the UVB rays.

SPF 30 or higher: The American Academy of Dermatology recommends that you select a sunscreen with an SPF rating of 30 or higher.

Water resistant: Dermatologists also recommend that you look for the words “water resistant.” This tells you that the sunscreen will stay on wet or sweaty skin for a while before you need to reapply. Water resistance lasts either 40 or 80 minutes. Not all sunscreens offer water resistance.

How you apply your sunscreen also affects how well it protects you. You can find out how to get the most protection from your sunscreen by watching the Academy’s video “How to apply sunscreen”.

Do you know that some sunscreens can prevent sunburn, reduce your risk of getting skin cancer, and help prevent early signs of skin aging? This infographic tells you how to choose a sunscreen that does all three.

How to choose a sunblock

How to select a sunscreen

Do you know that some sunscreens can prevent sunburn, reduce your risk of getting skin cancer, and help prevent early signs of skin aging? This infographic tells you how to choose a sunscreen that does all three.

When selecting a sunscreen, make sure the label says:

Broad spectrum: The words “broad spectrum” means that the sunscreen can protect your skin from both types of harmful UV rays — the UVA rays and the UVB rays.

SPF 30 or higher: The American Academy of Dermatology recommends that you select a sunscreen with an SPF rating of 30 or higher.

Water resistant: Dermatologists also recommend that you look for the words “water resistant.” This tells you that the sunscreen will stay on wet or sweaty skin for a while before you need to reapply. Water resistance lasts either 40 or 80 minutes. Not all sunscreens offer water resistance.

How you apply your sunscreen also affects how well it protects you. You can find out how to get the most protection from your sunscreen by watching the Academy’s video “How to apply sunscreen”.

How to choose a sunblock

How to Choose the Right Sunscreen

Summer has arrived and many pools are ready for guests. You might be excited to cool off at the pool or beach on those hot summer days.

When spending time outdoors, especially during the summer season, sunscreen is essential to keeping your skin safe from the sun’s harmful UV rays.

With many different brands and types of sunscreen on the market, choosing the right sunscreen can be difficult. The marketing and design on different sunscreen packaging can oftentimes be misleading and a little confusing.

In honor of National Sunscreen Day and Skin Cancer Awareness Month, we’re sharing tips about sunscreen, why it’s necessary, and how to choose the right one for you and your loved ones.

Why is Sunscreen Important?

Sunscreen is proven to decrease your risk of skin cancer and pre-cancer. 1 Sunscreen can also prevent aging that is caused by the sun, such as wrinkles and age spots.

Sunscreen is essential to protect your skin, whether or not you burn or tan easily. With the sun’s visible and invisible rays, our skin is prone to sun damage almost every single day.

How Does Sunscreen Work?

UVA and UVB Rays

The first part of understanding how sunscreen works is learning about UVA and UVB rays.

Ultraviolent B rays (UVB) affect the surface of our skin, known as the epidermis, which causes sunburn. 3 This damage is physically seen on the body, and severe sunburn can cause skin abnormalities.

Ultraviolent A rays (UVA) penetrate our skin to the deepest and thickest layer, known as the dermis, and harm supportive substances that keeps our skin young and healthy. 3

Although UVB rays harm your skin the most during the sun’s peak hours of the day, UVA rays are always able to cause skin damage. In fact, UVA rays are the main factor contributing to skin cancer.

Physical vs. Chemical Sunscreen

When it comes to choosing a sunscreen and how much it protects us from UV rays, there are two types: physical and chemical. Regular and thorough use of sunscreen, no matter which type, can help protect your skin from both short and long term damage.

Physical Sunscreen

Physical sunscreen essentially works as a blocker from sun rays. This type of sunscreen blocks and scatters UV rays before they penetrate the skin. 1

Physical sunscreen, also known as mineral sunscreen, is defined by its active ingredients: titanium dioxide and zinc oxide.

This type of sunscreen is also considered the most gentle option for those with sensitive skin.

Chemical Sunscreen

Chemical sunscreen, also known as synthetic sunscreen, is known for the two active ingredients, avobenzone and octisalate.

Contrary to how physical sunscreens sit on the skin’s surface and block rays, chemical sunscreens absorb rays like a sponge. 4

Chemical sunscreen works as a chemical reaction and converts UV rays into heat. 4 This type of sunscreen absorbs UV rays before they can damage your skin. 1

Choosing the Right Sunscreen

There are many options available when it comes to choosing a type and brand of sunscreen.

Sun Protection Factor (SPF) is how people most commonly choose a sunscreen. The SPF rating is how much protection a sunscreen provides against UVB rays. 2

Contrary to what most people believe, an increase in SPF does not significantly decrease your risk of sunburn. A sunscreen with a SPF 30 will protect you from about 97% of UVB rays, while a sunscreen with a SPF 50 will protect your skin from about 98%. 2

A safe rule for choosing SPF would be the following: multiply how many minutes into unprotected sun exposure that you start to burn by the SPF rating. 2 This equation will determine how many minutes that SPF rating will protect you from sunburn.

For example, if your arms start to get pink after ten minutes in the sun without sunscreen, and you apply sunscreen with a SPF 30, you will have five hours of protection before needing to reapply.

More factors to consider

Today, more sunscreens are coming out on the market that are safer for skin and made with clean ingredients. For example, there are brands that make vegan and gluten-free sunscreen. There are also sunscreens that are sulfate-free and paraben-free. These are options to keep in mind when choosing a sunscreen.

There are even sunscreens suited for the delicate skin on our faces. The skin on our face is more sensitive and shows some of the first signs of aging, so it is important to protect our face from UV rays.

Many people are not aware of these differences when choosing a sunscreen. All of these ingredients, including active ingredients in physical and chemical sunscreen as mentioned above, can affect your skin differently.

Here are some sunscreen options that are clean and safe for your skin:

  • Sun Bum – These sun-protection products are made sulfate free, paraben free, gluten free, vegan, and cruelty free. If you’re looking for a clean sunscreen option without harmful substances, this is a great choice.
  • Supergoop! – This brand creates many different products with SPF that are reef-safe as well as cruelty free. Supergoop! products are free of ingredients such as synthetic fragrances, heavy metals, and more. They also sell other products with SPF, such as makeup. If you’re looking for clean ingredients and an environmentally-friendly brand, this one is for you.
  • Elta MD – This brand is commonly recommended by dermatologists. Elta MD makes a variety of sunscreens suitable for different skin types, including those who have acne and rosacea. Elta MD also partners with organizations such as the Skin Cancer Foundation and the Melanoma Foundation.

These brands only scratch the surface when it comes to the wide variety of sunscreens that are available.

When it comes to choosing a sunscreen that is best for your skin type, there are many factors to consider. Do you have allergies? Is your skin sensitive? Do you use topical treatments or take medicine for skin concerns?

If you’ve tried many different brands and types of sunscreen, or you’re having trouble finding one suitable for your skin, try talking to your doctor or seeing a dermatologist. A dermatologist can evaluate your skin and help you choose a sunscreen with ingredients that will not irritate or harm your skin.

Saber Healthcare Encourages You to Wear Sunscreen Today

Saber Healthcare encourages you to wear sunscreen to keep your skin youthful and healthy. Talk with your doctor, pick out a sunscreen that works for you, and protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays.

Saber Healthcare is an organization dedicated to providing consultant services to long term care providers. This article is for informational purposes and is not meant to be seen as professional advice. Please consult with a medical expert before relying on the information provided.

Author

How to choose a sunblock

Susan Hoover, FNP-C

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Youtube

As the days get longer and the sun gets stronger, we all end up in the sunscreen aisle at our favorite store and think, “OMG! Sunscreens! How do I pick one? Which one is the best? What does everything mean on the label?”

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed because we all know how important sun protection is to our health. While the best way to avoid the damaging rays of the sun is to avoid direct exposure—especially between 10 AM and 2 PM when it’s strongest—that’s not always doable. Wearing sunscreen is a critical step to preventing sunburn and skin cancer. There are so many options it can be hard to know which sunscreen is the right one for you.

Before we get into choosing a sunscreen, let’s review why we need it in the first place. The sun emits ultraviolet (UV) radiation. This radiation damages the DNA of our skin cells—which can lead to cancer. There are three types of UV rays: UVA, UVB, and UBC. The ones to remember when it comes to skin damage and skin cancer are UVA and UVB. (To learn more about the types of UV, click here.)

Okay, now let’s try to clarify all the confusion around sunscreen.

Understand the two types of protection

There are two types of sun protection: organic and inorganic. The inorganic (sometimes called “physical” or “mineral”) type is a blocking agent that prevents most of the sun’s UV rays from penetrating the skin to cause a burn. Think of that thick white cream that lifeguards use on their noses, which is called zinc oxide. The organic (or “chemical”) type uses chemicals, such as oxybenzone, to absorb most UV rays before they damage your skin cells.

Consider the SPF

The Sun Protection Factor (SPF) noted on the bottle of sunscreen is a rough guideline that tells you how much longer than normal you can be out in sun without getting burned by UV rays. (Remember factors in high school math?)

For example, let’s say you can normally be in the sun without sunscreen for about 10 minutes before getting a sunburn. If you put on sunscreen with an SPF of 30, you should be able to stay out in the sun 30 times longer (about 300 minutes) without getting burned. For most people, an SPF of is 15 or greater should be fine when applied correctly. (More on that later.)

Broad spectrum is best

Remember the two types of UV rays I mentioned earlier? Not every sunscreen protects against both kinds.

To minimize your skin damage, look for broad spectrum sunscreens, which protect against both UVA and UVB radiation.

Invest in water- and sweat-resistant sunblock

This is especially important if you are going to be in the water or doing activities outside. In order to call itself water- or sweat-resistant, the sunscreen has to maintain its SPF qualities for 40-80 minutes while swimming or doing an activity. Water and/or sweat resistance sunscreen will work best if applied prior to beginning activities and allow to dry and absorb into the skin.

Apply it correctly

No matter what kind of sunscreen you buy, it won’t work if it’s not applied properly.

If you’re using a lotion-like sunscreen, adults need a full ounce (about a shot glass) of sunscreen for their entire body. Be generous!

Don’t use it on infants

Babies six months of age or younger should be kept out of the sun entirely.

Check the expiration date

All sunscreens expire, and won’t be effective after a date. Always refresh your supply when needed.

Protecting your skin today will make a huge difference as you get older.

Know Where To Go

Know Where To Go

  • Terms of Service
  • Privacy Policy
  • DMCA
  • Cookie Privacy Policy
  • Returns
  • Shipping and delivery
  • Shop
  • Blog
    • Art
    • Beauty
  • Checkout

How to Choose the Right Sunscreen for Your Skin

  • Home
  • Beauty
  • How to Choose the Right Sunscreen for Your Skin

How to choose a sunblock

How to Choose the Right Sunscreen for Your Skin

While everyone knows that UV rays wreak havoc on the skin, that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying spending a little time in the sunshine. Using sunscreen is a fantastic defense, but not all products are created equal. To achieve maximum anti-aging protection, reach for a sunscreen suited to your skin type.

Sunscreen and Your Skin Type

People who are very fair are more likely to have sensitive skin and burn easily. If your complexion is slightly darker, you might tan easily but still have sun-sensitive skin. And if you have dark, sun-insensitive skin, you might never burn or tan. Recognizing your skin type is important in choosing a specific product, but regardless of your skin type, you can battle the effects of aging with a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen that has a sun protection factor, or SPF, of at least 30.

Chemical or Physical

Beyond those general guidelines, you have a lot of products to choose from. When you start, consider whether you’d do better with a chemical or a physical—also known as mineral—sunscreen. Both will guard against UVA and UVB rays, which cause photo-damage to skin. Chemical products contain carbon compounds, while mineral-based products feature finely ground natural minerals. Most people use chemical sunscreens, but physical products can be a better choice if you have sensitive skin or allergies to fragrances or preservatives. They’re also a better choice if you have acne or rosacea.

How to choose a sunblock

Best Anti-Aging Ingredients

Broad-spectrum sunscreens guard against both UVA rays and UVB rays. UVB rays cause typical sunburn and affect the skin’s outermost layers, but UVA rays are the primary culprits of wrinkles and premature skin aging. There are three FDA-approved compounds that provide extensive protection against UVA rays, so look for them when sunscreen shopping: avobenzone (chemical), ecamsule (chemical) and zinc oxide (mineral). And since your skin gets drier as you age, use a moisturizer with sun protection or a moisturizing sunscreen if your skin is at all dry or flaky.

Facial Care

You should put sunscreen on any exposed areas of skin, but take special care with your face. It’s likely to show the most obvious display of photo-damage, and depending on your skin type, it could be more sensitive than skin on other areas of your body. A face-specific sunscreen in cream, spray, milk or gel form might be more comfortable for your face than an all-purpose bottle, and you can also look for a face-specific sunscreen that is designed to protect against wrinkles and photo-damage.

Our experts reveal their top picks.

This past April, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officials announced that full-size sunscreens were a medically approved item and therefore acceptable to include in carry-on luggage. Dermatologists, aestheticians, and skin enthusiasts alike were all thrilled that the importance of sun safety seemed to be a priority. But then, less than a week later, the TSA retracted the statement, saying that it was a “mistake” and sunscreen should be limited to the usual 3.4 ounces (or less). Since then, the organization has decreed that individual TSA officers will decide whether larger-size sunscreens are allowed to clear a checkpoint — not exactly reassuring when you’re rushing to catch that flight to Cancún.

What’s nonnegotiable is that daily sunscreen application is a must to help protect against skin cancer, prevent premature aging, and amend discoloration. “Unless you live in a cave or your house is completely unexposed to any sliver of UV light, you should apply each day,” says dermatologist Adeline Kikam (famously known as @BrownSkinDerm on Instagram), who recommends using a half teaspoon to cover your face and neck. Mona Gohara, a dermatologist at Dermatology Physicians of Connecticut in Hamden, encourages people to find a brand they can commit to. “Ninety percent of visible signs of aging comes from daily unprotected exposure to UV light,” she says.

It’s important to note that not all sun protectants are created equal. They vary in formulation, effectiveness, and inclusivity. The first thing to consider is whether to opt for a mineral or chemical solution. Mineral, or physical, sunscreens contain zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, which work to reflect light off the surface of the skin and are best suited for skin issues such as acne, rosacea, and eczema. “Some ingredients in chemical formulas can make existing breakouts worse,” explains dermatologist Caroline Robinson, CEO and founder of Tone Dermatology in Chicago. While great for sun-worshipping surfers, mineral sunscreens can leave behind a white, ashy residue. “Go for the tinted version so it blends better on darker skin tones,” says Dr. Kikam.

Chemical-based sunscreens, meanwhile, work to absorb UV rays, making this approach more cosmetically appealing since there is a lower risk of developing a cast. But you’ll want to steer clear of ingredients like oxybenzone and octinoxate, which are banned for sale in places like Hawaii due to their potential environmental risk. The bottom line: Sunscreens are a personal choice, so pick one that works for you because you’re going to need a lot of it.

Leah Ansell, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist and an assistant professor of dermatology at Columbia University.

If you have ever been to the sunscreen aisle at your local drugstore, you know how overwhelming it can be. The bottles and tubes are all full of abbreviations, such as SPF, UVA, and UVB. And further options such as waterproof and water-resistant only add to the confusion. Also, don’t forget the wide array of brands you have to choose from. You’re not alone. According to a study published in JAMA Dermotology, fewer than half of the patients at a dermatology clinic knew the meaning of terms like “broad spectrum” and “SPF.”  

But, if you get overwhelmed and neglect to take proper precautions to protect your skin, you’ll probably find yourself with a severe sunburn (or worse) and unable to enjoy your time in the sunshine. So, let’s take a closer look at the world of sun safety, so you can be well prepared.

How to choose a sunblock

Sun Protection Factor

SPF stands for sun protection factor. It tells you how long you can stay in the sun without getting burned, as opposed to how quickly you’d burn without sunscreen. In other words, say it takes you 15 minutes to burn without wearing sunscreen. Applying an SPF 10 means it will take you 10 times longer to burn, or 2.5 hours.

The American Academy of Dermatology recommends wearing an SPF 30 or higher for maximum protection. But, you may be thinking to yourself, ​there are sunscreens with SPF 70—is it necessary to go that high?  

According to a recent study in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, wearing a sunscreen with an SPF of 100 was more protective than sunscreens with and SPF of 50.  

A sunscreen with a high SPF is capable of protecting your skin for a longer amount of time, but think about the typical conditions during which we wear sunscreen: we’re swimming, sweating, and toweling off. No sunscreen, whether SPF 15 or 60, can withstand that. Any sunscreen, regardless of SPF, must be reapplied often, especially after swimming, sweating, and drying off.

UV Index

The UV (ultraviolet) index is a daily prediction of the intensity of UV radiation at noon when the sun’s rays are at their most intense. UV index is measured on a scale of one to 11+, with one signifying the lowest risk of UV exposure and 11+ signifying the highest risk of UV exposure.

There are several factors that determine the UV index, including season, latitude, and altitude. The UV index is highest during spring and summer. UV radiation is highest at the equator, so the closer you are to it, the more intense the radiation. Air also becomes thinner at high elevations, which causes UV radiation to intensify with altitude.  

UVA vs. UVB Protection

UVA rays are mostly responsible for the aging effects of the sun on the skin while UVB rays are responsible for sunburns and skin cancer. However, it’s important to note that overexposure to UVA rays can also lead to skin cancer.  

The label on sunscreen will indicate whether it provides UVA or UVB protection, or both. In order to prevent skin cancer and early skin aging, the sunscreen needs to protect against both UVA and UVB rays, with a minimum SPF of 15. Otherwise, the sunscreen is only preventing sunburn and not skin cancer.

Also, note that SPF only measures UVB protection, so choose a product that states “UVA/UVB” protection or has “broad-spectrum” protectant.  

Waterproof vs. Water-Resistant

The level of SPF is compromised when your skin comes into contact with water. This means that you must reapply sunscreen as soon as you are out of the water or if you are participating in an activity where you are sweating.

If you are looking for a sunscreen to use while in the water, choose a sunscreen that is “waterproof” or “water-resistant.” Waterproof sunscreens are not actually completely waterproof but provide protection in the water for 80 minutes. Water-resistant sunscreens provide only 40 minutes of protection.  

Sun Safety Tips

Since SPF claims are strictly regulated by the FDA, SPF labeling is consistent from company to company, so switching between brands is not a problem.

The right sunscreen for you is the one you’re most likely to wear. So be sure to find the one that you like the feel, scent, and texture of while matching the SPF level required by your individual skin tone. Also, remember to keep these sun safety tips in mind: