When shopping for a sunscreen, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by all the choices. Is one sunscreen as good as another? What should you look for? Does price make a difference?
|This is the sunscreen my dermatologist recommended. It is widely available, at around $15.|
I recently visited my dermatologist for the removal of a rough nodule on my finger. Over the years I’ve had numerous such lesions, mostly on my hands and lower arms, but occasionally on my face. Classified as “pre-cancerous,” they are removed by a freezing process.
I have been using sunscreen for years, and wonder why I still get these. I always apply sunscreen to my face and neck during my morning skin care regimen, but there are times I don’t religiously apply it to my hands and arms. Not good; I need to do it every day.
A few facts about rays from the sun:
UVA Rays are constantly present, no matter the season or the weather. They are so powerful they also penetrate some clothing and even glass. UVA rays used to be considered relatively safe, in terms of the sun's rays, and that's why tanning beds, which use UVA rays, took center stage. UVA rays are responsible for the signs of aging because they are able to penetrate much deeper into the surface of the skin, damaging the cells beneath.
When you think sings of aging, think UVA Rays.
UVB Rays are what give us a sunburn. Unlike UVAs, these rays aren't always the same strength year round. While more prevalent in the summer months, they are able to reflect off of water or snow. UVB rays are responsible for causing most skin cancers. While large doses of UVA rays can contribute to cancer, it's the UVB rays that are commonly to blame.
If you've heard the advice to stay out of the sun though the mid day hours, it's the UVB rays you're trying to avoid. They are most prevalent mid-day, so if you must be out at that time, protect your skin.
When you think sun burn and cancer, think UVB rays.
Now we obviously want full protection, a sunscreen that protects against both types of rays. All sunscreens protect against UVBs, but it wasn't until recent years that sunscreen started including UVA protection. And in fact, not all sunscreens do. Look for one that specifically says UVA/UVB or "broad spectrum coverage" on the bottle.
Use a minimum of SPF 15 and reapply every hour or two at the very most.
Now here’s something that was new to me: How long your protection lasts. Here’s the formula. Take the number of SPF and multiply it by 10. That is the length of time you'd be safe from the sun's rays (assuming perfect conditions; no water or perspiring taken into account.)
For example: SPF 50 x 10 = 500 minutes, or just over 8 hours, of sun protection.
So why do they recommend reapplying every two hours???
One note on the broad spectrum creams: They are thick and don’t easily absorb into the skin, apparently because of the zinc oxide (which protects against UVAs). But this is a small price to pay for the sun protection needed, don’t you think?
Apparently, price does NOT make a difference. Here's a list that compares the cost/effectiveness of some common sunscreen brands. According to the article, price apparently does NOT make a difference, but I think I'll stick with what my dermatologist recommended.
So that’s what I’ve recently learned about sunscreens. Perhaps I should have known these things already, especially since my skin is fair and I’m prone to problems.
Do you have a sunscreen recommendation? If so, please share.