How to choose sunscreen

Woman applying sunblock protection on shouldersThe sun is in its high time as summer is just around the corner, but choosing the right sunscreen can be daunting. Although many of us are aware of the importance of choosing a proper sunscreen, the confusion of all those numbers on the labels and unpronounceable ingredients can make choosing the right one challenging.

Although majority of sunscreens offer UVA and UBS protection, when it comes to SPF the numbers vary greatly between two to 100. SPF is an indicator of how many minutes the sunscreen allows you to be out in the sun prior to sunburn, compared to someone who is not protected.


Dr. Colette Pameijer, expert from Penn State Melanoma and Skin Cancer Center, said, “I think what a lot of people don’t realize is that SPF is really a personal number. The amount of protection that I get from an SPF 30 is different than what someone else with a different skin type would get.”

Generally, most people should apply sunscreen with an SPF of 30, and it may not be worth to pay for sunscreen factor greater than that, as previous research has found there is minimal difference in protection. Dr. Pameijer added, “You may end up paying a lot of money for diminishing returns, and it may lead to a false sense of security. The product needs to be used correctly — reapplied every two hours — in order to work. If you pay a lot of money for a sunscreen and then use it sparingly, you’re not really getting the SPF you think.”
Men may opt against fragrance sunscreens, so they should look for unscented products or seek out for men products to ensure they are still protected. Parents may also use spray options, but they should ensure the product is landing on their child’s skin and not being carried by the wind.

If a person chooses to opt against sunscreen, there is UV clothing, which can offer protection between SPF 30 and 50. Clothing, unlike sunscreen, does not need to be reapplied, and the person is protected as long as they are wearing the clothes. Dr. Pameijer concluded, “The best sunblock is one that you will wear, so find one you like.”


Author Bio

Emily Lunardo studied medical sociology at York University with a strong focus on the social determinants of health and mental illness. She is a registered Zumba instructor, as well as a Canfit Pro trainer, who teaches fitness classes on a weekly basis. Emily practices healthy habits in her own life as well as helps others with their own personal health goals. Emily joined Bel Marra Health as a health writer in 2013.


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