Why should I use sunscreen ?

It may help prevent skin cancer, as well as discoloration, and daily use has been shown to be anti-aging.

What are the types of sunscreen ?

There are inorganic ones (physical blockers that deflect the sun’s rays), such as Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide. It is recommended that babies and pregnant women use these sunscreens. There are also organic ones (chemical blockers that absorb the sun’s rays). These include avobenzone, oxybenzone, and several more. Sunscreens often have a combination of both organic and inorganic sunscreens in their active ingredients.

What does SPF mean ?

This refers to the sun protection factor and in short it is an indication of how well the sunscreen filters UVB rays. SPF 15 filters 93% of the sun’s UVB rays, SPF 30 filters 97% and SPF 50 filters 98%.

What do water proof and water resistance labels mean ?

Water proof means that you can be in the water for 40 minutes before you need to reapply and water resistant means you can be in the water for 80 minutes before you need to reapply.

What should I look for in a sunscreen ?

Choose a sunscreen from a reputable brand (e.g. Elta MD, Neutrogena, Aveeno, etc.), with SPF of 30 or greater and broad spectrum (protects against both UVA and UVB). Also, choose one that is waterproof or water resistant if you will be in the water.

How should I apply sunscreen ?

Apply it 15-30 minutes before going outside and then every 2 hours, and after sweating or coming out of water.

What other measures can I take to protect myself from the sun ?

Since no sunscreen gives 100% filtration of UV rays, it is important to wear protective clothing (e.g. wide brimmed hat) and seek shade. Also, try to avoid being outside during the sun’s peak hours of 10am to 2pm. Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes. Avoid tanning beds or sunlamps. Instead for tan appearing skin. consider a self-tanner cream (many are very natural appearing). There is also an over the counter antioxidant pill, that may be taken to supplement the above, Heliocare (can purchase from Amazon).

What is the safety of sunscreens ?

Sun screens are generally safe and have important benefits for prevention of skin cancer and premature aging. If you have any concerns about sunscreen, please discuss this with your dermatologist. Per the American Academy of Dermatology’s: “Sunscreens are a safe and effective way to protect against the damaging effects from exposure to ultraviolet radiation. Scientific evidence supports the benefits of sunscreen to minimize short- and long-term damage to the skin from UV radiation. Claims that sunscreen ingredients are toxic or a hazard to human health have not been proven.”

Additional Resources:
National Cancer Institute
American Academy of Dermatology