Sunscreen has come a long way from the earliest sunscreens which used SPF to measure our protection against sunburns caused by ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. We now know we need protection from UVA and Infrared radiation as well. Todays sunscreens are true anti-aging, anti-cancer powerhouses…but how do you know which products are the best?
First, read the front label. SPF measures your ability to stay in the sun without burning. It is a good measure of protection against sunburn and cancer-causing UVB rays. Look for SPF of 30 or higher.
But you must also protect against UVA! UVA rays penetrate more deeply than UVB and cause a longer lasting tanning (or leathering as we think of it) of the skin. These rays are big contributors to brown spots, broken blood vessels, and skin thinning as well as skin cancer. The words “broad spectrum” on a sunscreens label mean it is protecting you against both UVA and UVB.
Then, read the back label. Sunscreen ingredients have been rigorously tested for safety and efficacy and approved by the FDA. These ingredients fall into 2 categories:
- Physical sunscreens: titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are minerals that reflect UV radiation right off your skin.
Pros of physical: less irritating
Con: can leave a white residue. Tinted Physical blockers are great because they can substitute for makeup.
- Chemical sunscreens, such as octinoxate, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate, and avobenzone absorb UV radiation and release the energy in harmless ways.
Pros of chemical: often more cosmetically elegant
Con: can irritate sensitive skin
Finally, talk to your Dermatologist. As understanding of aging, pigmentation, and cancer progresses, we as dermatologists are on the first line of information about the latest and greatest ingredients to look for.
Infrared (IR) penetrate deeper into the skin than UVA and UVB and now there is a superscreen that features SOL-IR Advanced Antioxidant Complex to prevent the damage from chronic exposure to infrared.
Are you overwhelmed by all the choices?
Companies are coming out with new and innovative formulations that everyone can enjoy using! There are still creams and lotions, but now you can find sunscreen in a liquid, solid stick, gel, powder, and spray. Application has never been so easy. Whether you have the most sensitive skin to the oiliest of skin, there are formulas for your skin type.
- For oily skin we recommend Elta MD UV Clear SPF46 or Skin Ceuticals Physical Matte UV Defense SPF50
- For dry skin we recommend Elta MD UV Facial SPF30 or Skin Medica Daily Physical Defense SPF30
- For normal skin we recommend Skin Medica Total Defense + Repair SPF34 or Revision Intellishade Original SPF45 or Supergoop Everyday SPF50
- For sensitive skin we recommend Audubon Dermatology Daily Anti-oxidant Sunshade SPF30 or all Colorescience SPF formulas
- For infants over 6 months and children we recommend Elta MD UV Pure SPF47