When choosing a sunscreen, what makes you buy one brand over another?
In a study researchers looked at the top 1% of sunscreens being sold on Amazon.com. When they looked at the brands, they found that a full 40% of those top 65 didn’t meet the sunscreen guidelines of the American Academy of Dermatology.
The AAD recommends that sunscreens:
- Be broad spectrum (meaning they protect you from both UVA and UVB rays).
- Have an SPF (sun protection factor) of at least 30, which blocks about 97% of the sun’s rays,
- Be water resistant, so that they are more likely to stay on if you get sweaty or go in the water.
The whole point of sunscreen is to, well, screen you from the sun — and prevent not just sunburn and premature signs of aging, but also skin cancer. If you get five sunburns in your lifetime, you will double your risk of getting melanoma. This can be particularly important in children, as sunburns early in life can increase the risk of skin cancer as an adult. So when choosing a sunscreen, it’s important to choose one that will best screen you — and your child — from the sun.
It’s important not just to choose the right sunscreen, but also to use it the right way. Here are tips from the AAD:
- Apply sunscreen before you go outside. It can take about 15 minutes for it to be absorbed into the skin — if you wait until you get outside, you will be unprotected for that time.
- Use enough. You need about an ounce of sunscreen (roughly the amount in a shot glass) to cover your skin.
- Cover all the bare skin. This is where a lot of people mess up. Remember your back, the back of your arms, legs, ears and neck, the tops of your feet. For hard to reach places, you may need help or a spray.
- Reapply at least every 2 hours, sooner after swimming or sweating a lot.
So choose carefully — and use carefully. It can literally save lives.