Finding A Good Sunscreen......
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|Mon, 05-15-2006 - 1:51pm|
Being sunscreen savvy may take a little more work this summer. That's because you have more choices than ever. Sunscreens now come in spray, stick, gel, and lotion form. Some are tinted; others have a touch of glitter for extra glamour. But one constant remains, say health experts.
"Your sunscreen must have a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher with broad-spectrum protection against ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB)," says New York University dermatologist Darrel Rigel, a clinical professor of dermatology at New York University School of Medicine and past president of the American Academy of Dermatology.
Such broad-spectrum agents include benzophenones (oxybenzone), cinnamates (octylmethyl cinnamate and cinoxate), sulisobenzone, salicylates, titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, and avobenzone (Parsol 1789). Read the label carefully.
As far as the bells and whistles on the latest and greatest sunscreens, it's all about you, Rigel says. A new product may have an advantage depending on what you are looking for in a sunscreen.
For example, there's been much ado about greaseless lotions. "I like them," Rigel says. "They tend to be less greasy and more substantive. Those that are more greasy come off more easily in the pool."
Remember that even so-called water-resistant sunscreens may lose their effectiveness after 80 minutes or sooner depending on your activity.
Sunscreen Type Comes Down to You
Sunscreen sprays may be easier to apply. "Most of the sprays say 'don't wipe,' and that's true as long as you spray your body in entirety because if you miss a spot, you will burn," Rigel says. "Tinted and glitter sunscreens may look good, but there is no improvement in how they work," he adds. "They are not worse and they are not better, they just look nice and cool."
As long as the product has an SPF of 15 or higher with broad-spectrum protection against UVA and UVB and you reapply it frequently, the rest is up to you, he says.
And "you can't skimp," he says. "People tend to underapply it," he says. "Sunscreen takes 15 to 20 minutes to kick into high gear, so apply it before you leave the house, not when you get to the beach," he says. Remember that sunscreen only lasts for about two hours. "So by six hours you have no protection if you have been out all day." Sunscreens should be reapplied every two hours or after swimming or perspiring heavily.
Published May 2005.
Medically updated April 2006.
SOURCES: Darrel Rigel, dermatologist; clinical professor of dermatology, New York University School of Medicine; past president of the American Academy of Dermatology.