Advice on Using Sunscrens from Derm Doctor

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How much protection can a sunscreen provide?

It makes a big difference. Short of locking yourself indoors, sunscreen is the best method of UV protection that is available to us. Sunscreens with an SPF rating of 15 or higher should cut out more than 95% of the UVB rays that the skin is exposed to for the first hour after application. It is the most practical, and effective form of sun protection that is currently available to us.

How much sunscreen do I need to apply?

More than you think in all likelihood. A shot glass full of sunscreen is recommended if you plan to be outdoors for an extended period of time. Most people use far less than this, which is certainly better than not using it, but the product's SPF rating is based on application of the recommended dose.

Many people find that they use less sunscreen when they do not like the consistency of the sunscreen. Choose a product that you enjoy using, as it will encourage you to use it more liberally.

How long will sunscreen last?

Sunscreens degrade when exposed to UV light. Sunscreens should be reapplied at least every two hours when outdoors being exposed to direct sunlight. Other environmental factors such as exposure to water, sweating, towelling, and wind all serve to accelerate this process. The deterioration is a slow process, but to ensure the best protection, it's important to reapply sunscreen periodically.

Where should I apply sunscreen?

Sunscreen should be applied anywhere on the body where the skin is exposed to sunlight. While most people apply sunscreen on their face, many people neglect the other exposed areas such as the outer arms, legs, back, and behind the ears. Remember that any skin that is normally not covered by clothing is vulnerable to sun damage.

Do darker skinned people need to use sunscreen?

Darker skinned individuals have more melanin, which does in fact provide some amount of sun protection. Generally, signs of sun damage such as wrinkling occur later than in those with a lighter complexion. However, those with darker skin are not invulnerable.

Darker skinned individuals typically suffer from pigmentation problems more severely than in lighter skinned individuals due to their greater capacity to produce melanin. Sun protection is important for everyone.

What are the basics that I should want in a sunscreen?

  • Broad spectrum protection-This ensures that the sunscreen protects you from both UVB rays (causes sunburns) and UVA (causes long-term skin aging) rays. Remember that SPF is only a measurement of protection from UVB rays.
  • SPF 15 or higher-SPF numbers are not everything, but do reflect how much UVB light the product shields you from. Beyond SPF 30, however, there is little difference in effectiveness.
    Effective active ingredients-Look for a product with at least one of these actives:
    • Titanium Dioxide
    • Zinc Oxide
    • Avobenzone
    • Oxybenzone
    • Octinoxate
    • Octisalate
    • Octylcrylene
    • Homosalate
    • Uvinul T 150
    • Uvinul A Plus
    • Mexoryl SX and SL
  • Personal preference and price-Preference and price is often overlooked, but personal preference could possibly be one of the most important factors. The perfect sunscreen product is perfectly useless if it sits on the shelf unused. Purchase a product that you feel comfortable using on a regular basis.