Screening Your Sunscreen
What Type of Sun Protection is Right For YOU?
Spring is here and summer’s just around the corner…and that means great weather, sunshine and a lot more time spent outdoors! Every day it seems we learn new and more perplexing information about sun damage and sun protection, so I thought it would be helpful to give a little background to help everyone make a conscious choice of what kind of sun protection is right for them (because EVERYONE should be wearing some sort of sun protection EVERY DAY).
Many people don't realize there's a difference between sunblock (physical sun protection) and sunscreen (chemical sun protection). In the simplest terms, physical sunblocks reflect the sun's rays—blocking them from reaching your skin, while chemical sunscreens absorb, rather than reflect ultraviolet (UV) radiation.
Chemical sunscreens contain ingredients that create a (usually colorless) film on the skin designed to absorb the dangerous UV rays before they get to your skin—look for one that says “broad spectrum” which protects the skin better against both UVA and UVB rays. Unfortunately, the ingredients in chemical sunscreens break down over time—which means you MUST reapply often and generously in order to remain properly protected while in the sun over long periods of time.
People with sensitive skin can also be allergic to the chemicals in sunscreens—which is why physical sunblocks are extremely helpful. Physical sunblocks contain titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide, which reflect, rather than absorb UVA and UVB rays. These sunblocks usually are much more visible on the skin (usually white—remember those 80’s movies where the strapping lifeguard had white “paint” on their noses?), often messy, and don’t come off very easily—but they offer a safer alternative to people with sensitive skin.
Dermatologists strongly recommend using a sunscreen everyday with an SPF 15 or greater year-round for all skin types. If you are fair-skinned and sunburn easily, you may want to select a sunblock or sunscreen with a higher SPF to provide additional protection. Remember, lobster might taste yummy, but you definitely don’t want to end up looking like one!