As the expression goes, "There's no such thing as a safe tan." That's why there are lots of sunscreens and sunblocks on the market to protect your skin from burning and becoming damaged. By practicing sun safety you can be sure that you will be doing everything in your power to ward off cancer, sun spots and wrinkles. Plus, you will be less likely to suffer from severe burns or sun poisoning.
Choosing Sun Protection
# '''Broad Spectrum Protection''' -- Get lotion that protects against both UVA and UVB rays, often called broad spectrum protection sunscreens. They will contain a combination of both sunblock and chemical sunscreens, which is your best protection against the sun's harmful rays. For example, Neutrogena's UVA/UVB Sunblock Lotion does just that, and it is recommended by ConsumerSearch.
# '''Face or Body''' -- If you want to apply sunscreen to your face alone, find one formulated for the delicate facial skin. They are usually non-comodegenic, oil-free, and have a higher SPF, which means less breakouts, extra moisture and safer skin.
# '''Coverage All Year-Round''' -- Remember that even on overcast days UV rays can still penetrate your skin. Protect your face during cooler months with a moisturizer that contains an SPF, a great safeguard to make a daily habit. During warmer months, it's important to get a sunscreen/sunblock that is sweat-proof. Usually "sport" or waterproof sunblocks are made to stay on no matter how much you sweat.
Sunscreen vs. Sunblock
Be aware that there is a difference between sunscreen and sunblock. They may sound like the same product, but in reality, they perform two different tasks. A sunblock, as the name implies, literally blocks the sun from attacking your skin like a wall. A sunscreen, on the other hand, is simply a chemical filter that makes the sun's rays less harmful to the skin.
The following ingredients are crucial to blocking harmful sun rays. They may be combined for better results, such as in a broad spectrum sunscreen. When shopping, check the ingredient listing to make sure that the product contains the following ingredients. If you buy beauty products that claim to have an SPF in them, such as moisturizers and makeup, verify that the ingredients qualify as a true SPF. Also remember that they are no match for a true sunblock or sunscreen.
** Zinc oxide, Iron oxide and/or titanium dioxide.
** These mineral heavy products will not be as water-resistant or as lightweight on the skin as a chemical sunscreen.
** Ideal for sensitive skin.
** '''UVA''': Avobenzone, oxybenzone (parsol 1789), benzophenone, sulisobenzone, dioxybenzone and meradimate.
** '''UVB''': Oxtinoxcate (octyl methoxycinnamate), octocrylene, homosalate, octisalate, cinoxate, ensulizole and aminobenzoic acid.
** Lightweight and easy to wear on the skin and the water-resistant properties of sunscreen are better than sunblock.
** PABA, which is slowly decreasing in use, is sometimes found in sunscreens and should be avoided, especially if you have problem skin such as acne, eczema, or skin allergies.
Sun Protection Form Factor
How Much SPF?
* '''Minimum SPF 15''': For basic, everyday exposure for short periods of time a 15 SPF is sufficient. During winter months, moisturizers with 15 SPF are the least amount of daily protection you should have. Extended periods of exposure, such as playing sports or going to the beach, require a higher SPF, preferably around 30 or higher. If you sweat a lot, are in high altitudes or are near the equator, always choose higher sun protection.
* '''Light Skin Minimum SPF 30''': For light-skinned adults, an SPF 30 is best. Those with medium to dark skin may enjoy a lower SPF, usually around 15 (the lowest SPF you should use), and perhaps even an oil-based tan enhancer. Mind you, tanning oils of 2 and 4 SPF levels are not protective of the skin except for the natural moisturizing qualities of the oil. They do very little to keep your skin from burning, so use them with caution even if you have medium skin.
* '''Children''': Children need a higher SPF than adults and it is never too soon for them to start wearing it. An SPF of 45 is perfect for children, both on their face and body. One good SPF 45 for both parent and child is by Aveeno Baby. It is oil-free, waterproof and fragrance free. Be sure to get a waterproof sunblock for children if they are old enough to be running around. It will prevent the lotion from sweating off in the heat even if they aren't swimming. For very active children or for children more than 10 years old, you may want to think about a sports sunscreen that is formulated not to run, drip or melt off, even when you go in the water. Remember though that despite what manufacturers say about sunscreens being waterproof, the truth is that they need to be reapplied each time the wearer sweats a lot or goes swimming. You should also reapply after towel drying.
Need to Know
* Sunscreen and sunblock have 2 to 3 year lifespans. Always store them in a cool location, as heat destroys the chemical properties.
* Apply both sunscreen and sunblock liberally. That means put it on so that it's still white. If you can't see it, chances are there isn't enough to absorb into your skin to offer full protection.
* Sweat-resistant, waterproof and water-resistant are the same thing. These sun protection lotions will keep from running and sweating off in the heat, but you should know that no sunscreen or block is truly waterproof regardless of what the label says.
* Reapply every 2 hours or more frequently if you sweat or go in the water.
* Give sunscreen time to sink into the skin and dry before heading out; 15 minutes to a half hour can be needed for the full effect to take place.
* If using on the face, apply the sunscreen before you put on makeup. Likewise, do the same if you plan to layer it with bug repellent.