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Tips for Buying Sunscreen

What Should You Look for When Buying Sunscreen?

Hopefully you're stocking up on sunscreen for the sunny season ahead. Aside from avoiding the sun entirely, it is your best defense against skin cancer. The Mayo Clinic has a list of recommendations for what to look for when buying sunscreen and here are the highlights.

  • Select a sunscreen that says broad spectrum on the bottle. These provide protection against both UVA and UVB rays.
  • It should have an SPF of 15 or higher. Remember that sunscreens with an SPF of 45 or higher don't allow you to stay out longer. You still need to reapply every two hours.
  • Make sure the label says that it contains sunscreen. Some lotions and tanning oils don't, so they'll offer no protection from the sun's harmful rays.
  • In the list of ingredients, it should say one these: oxybenzone, sulisobenzone, avobenzone (Parsol 1789), ecamsule, titanium dioxide or zinc oxide.
  • If you have sensitive skin, choose one that is free of fragrance, dyes, and preservatives.
  • If you spend time in the water, choose one that is water-resistant. If you exercise outside, select one that is sweatproof.

Remember, when applying your well researched sunscreen be sure to use enough. It takes about a shot glass worth of sunscreen to cover your entire body.

Join The Conversation
kia kia 9 years
I've been doing Kiss My Face Face + Neck Factor which is a 30 block... and need something stronger or with zinc. I am doing a lot of outdoor work right now and what I have is not cutting it even with plentiful re-applications during the day.
staticnoise staticnoise 9 years
ps: sunscreen that stays at the surface and doesn't move into your skin doesn't have this effect - obviously. but it's not very... chic ;)
staticnoise staticnoise 9 years
i am aware that uv rays are the reason for mutations. you're right that sunscreen prevents you from (direct!) dna damage by absorbing the uv rays. but you've also already mentioned the point i aimed at: the active components of sunscreen move into your skin and work as a photosensitizer, they absorb the uv rays and get excited. these activated chromophores start a photochemical reaction which leads in the end to oxidative stress that causes dna damage. that's what i referred to as indirect dna damage.
Spectra Spectra 9 years
I always look for UVA/UVB protection...some stuff only blocks UVB rays, but it's the UVA rays that cause premature aging. I also only get SPF 30+ because my skin is very fair. And's actually the UV rays that cause the DNA to mutate in the first place, so wearing sunscreen that absorbs the rays before they get to your skin is absolutely the best thing you can do to help prevent skin cancer. Eating a diet high in antioxidants can also help clean up the free radicals that the UV rays can cause, so eating those AND wearing sunscreen will do nothing but help you out.
staticnoise staticnoise 9 years
as i said before, sun screen does not protect you from skin cancer. it protects you from getting sunburns, which is not the same. both have the same cause, which are uv-rays, but both are just symptoms. sun burns are caused by direct DNA damages, whereas skin cancer is mostly caused by indirect DNA damage. therefore it is not true, but rather dangerous, to declare "sunscreen is your best defense against skin cancer".
beingtazim beingtazim 9 years
i just bought some today! i like the Aveda sunscreen which is SPF 15. I don't go out in the full sun for very long and have brownish skin so don't need anything stronger...and yes, i do reapply every few hours. even if i use it every time i go out in the summer, i almost never go through an entire bottle before it expires! i wish it came in smaller containers, in a way.
Francoisehardly Francoisehardly 9 years
It does have an expiration date and I'm glad I just checked mine because it still hasn't expired like I thought it might have. I probably wouldn't have even checked it since I was thinking I already needed a new one.
juju4 juju4 9 years
Does sunscreen have an expiration date? My husband and I go hiking all the time, and we have a lot of half-empty bottles of different brands, etc. Some of them are a year or so old. I am tempted to just throw them out and start fresh, but if it would still work (and not clog my pores) then I suppose that would be wasteful.
ash_marisa ash_marisa 9 years
Lil, your kidding right (sounds like sarcasm, but im not sure)? Vitamin D from the sun prevents cancer, but you only need a very minimal amount of exposure (a few MINUTES daily) to get this benefit, and anymore than that actually increases your risk of cancer. A tan means your skin has been damaged, although your skin has received damage before it changes color.
LiLRuck44 LiLRuck44 9 years
Actually we do have one bottle of an all-natural sunscreen for vacations at the beach.
LiLRuck44 LiLRuck44 9 years
We are a sunscreen free household. Vitamin D from the sun is one of the top ways to prevent not only cancer but many other problems as well. Obviously sunburns are very bad.
aimeeb aimeeb 9 years
Great tips!
millarci millarci 9 years
Thanks for the tips, FitSugar! :)
Francoisehardly Francoisehardly 9 years
Mexoryl is the supposed to be the best protection of all againest UVA rays.
Renees3 Renees3 9 years
I'm sort of crazy about sunscreen. I have like 15 different kinds at home. I'm having a BBQ next week and I'm planning on putting it all out so people can use it! Also, I'd like to point out that if you're going to be snorkeling around coral reef to be careful what kind of sunscreen you're using. It can bleach the coral :-(
Lovely_1 Lovely_1 9 years
yes...i need to buy some soon. my poor poor bf just got soooo burnt while we were working on the yard on the weekend :(
ash_marisa ash_marisa 9 years
You should really add to this that the ADA currently finds sunscreens with Mexoryl and Helioplex to be most effective against both the UVB and UVA rays.
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