If you’ve shopped for sunscreen lately you may have noticed that
there are nearly as many different types as there are sands of grain on
Because most health care providers agree that sunscreen is an important
tool in reducing the risk of skin cancer and premature aging caused by
the sun, it’s important to know how to pick the right one.
The American Academy of Dermatology recommends choosing a sunscreen that
states the following on the label:
- Broad spectrum – This means a sunscreen protects the skin from ultraviolet
A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays, both of which can cause cancer.
- SPF 30 or higher – This indicates how well a sunscreen protects against
sunburn. The number tells you how long the sun’s UV radiation would
take to redden your skin when using the product exactly as directed versus
the amount of time without any sunscreen. For example, an SPF of 30 would
take you 30 times longer to burn than if you weren’t wearing any
- Water resistant – While sunscreens can be “water resistant”
or “very water resistant,” sunscreens are not waterproof or
sweat proof and need to be reapplied.
Most adults need about 1 ounce of sunscreen (enough to fill a shot glass)
to fully cover their body.
- Remember, it’s important not to rely on high-SPF sunscreens alone.
No one single method of sun defense can protect you perfectly. Sunscreen
is just one very important part of a strategy that should include seeking
shade and covering exposed parts of the body, including wide-brimmed hats
and UV-blocking sunglasses.