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How do I select and use a SunScreen?

There are hundreds of sunscreens out on the market. Here are some general suggestions regarding selecting one that will give you the greatest sun protection.

  • I recommend a sunscreen of at least an SPF 30 or greater if one is going to have prolonged sun exposure. This is because studies show that most people apply half as much sunscreen as they need.
  • Use a sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB, a broad-spectrum sunscreen. Padimate A, Padimate O and the cinnamates are common chemicals used to block UVB. Benzophenones, Anthranilates and Avobenzone (Parsol 1789) are common chemicals that block UVA light. I particularly like sunscreens with Parsol 1789.
  • Physical sunscreens (titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, icthmol, etc.) block both UVB and UVA. Micro sized titanium dioxide and zinc oxide preparations allow these chemicals to be less noticeable on application.
  • Apply sunscreen at least one hour before exposure.
  • Waterproof sunscreens should be applied at least one hour before water exposure.
  • Reapply sunscreen at least every two hours.
  • SPF (sun protection factor) gives one a rough estimate of how long one can stay in the sun without burning. For example an SPF 15 sunscreen will protect someone who burns in 10 minutes 15 times additional protection or 150 minutes.
  • SPF only applies to UVB protection.
  • Reapplying a sunscreen does NOT extent the period of protection. Taking the above example a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 will not give 300 minutes of protection if reapplied, it will only assure you of getting 150 minutes of sun protection.
  • A water-resistant sunscreen will remain unchanged after 40 minutes of water exposure.
  • A water-proof sunscreen will remain unchanged after 80 minutes of water exposure.
  • It takes one ounce of sunscreen to cover the body. Thus an 8 ounce bottle of sunscreen will be used up in four days of total body application. (How old is your bottle of sunscreen at home?)
  • DEET-containing sunscreens may reduce the SPF in the sunscreen by 30%.
  • Wear UVA and UVB protective eye glasses, sunglasses or goggles to protect the eyes from sun damage and cataract formation.
  • Sombrta makes sun protective lightweight clothing (SPF 30+)

Skin Care Glossary A-M
Skin Care Glossary N-Z

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