Video:Types of Sunscreenwith Lynn Reynolds
While sunscreen is a necessity for spending time out in the sun, there are a lot of options out there. Here's a quick guide to knowing which type of sunscreen is best for you.See Transcript
Transcript:Types of SunscreenHi, I'm Lynn Reynolds for About.com, and today, I'm going to show you the different types of sunscreen there are available, and how to choose one that's right for you.
Meaning of SPFWhile it may seem that there are an overwhelming number of types of sunscreens available, there are only a few important points you need to consider. First, let's look at SPF. SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor, and like its name, it indicates how much protection from the sun's UVB rays it offers (the kind that cause sunburn and some cancers). For instance, an SPF 30 means that it gives your skin has 30x more protection from the UVB rays than it would have without the sunscreen. SPFs come in everything from 15 to over 100.
Which SPF Is for YouThe American Cancer Society recommends that people use a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15. There is some controversy over very high SPF sunscreens (over 50 SPF). There's only about 1% difference in the amount of protection offered by SPF 50 vs. SPF 100. And the higher the SPF, the more chemicals your skin is absorbing. For these reasons, a lot of dermatologists say anything above SPF 50 is overkill. But, the two most important factors in sunscreen protection are using at least an ounce (which is about a handful), and applying it every two hours, no matter what SPF you use.
Sunscreen IngredientsNext, be sure to choose a sunscreen with UVA and UVB protection, otherwise known as broad spectrum. Again, SPF refers only to UVB rays, and you need protection against UVA rays too, as they also cause cancer and age your skin. Point 2: Let's look at ingredients--what to look for and what to avoid. Sunscreens block the sun's rays with either mineral elements such as zinc and titanium, or chemical compounds. Many sunscreens contain the chemical oxybenzone, which is a synthetic estrogen. While many people use these sunscreens, you should be aware that some studies indicate they may be harmful to your health.
Avoid Sunscreen With Vitamin AIf you want to play it safe, you can use mineral sunscreens instead. Look for the active ingredients zinc, titanium, or avobenzone. These substances remain on the skin, with little if any penetration into the body. Nearly 90 brands now offer chemical free sunscreens, so they're easy to find. Babies and children should definitely not use sunscreen with oxybenzone. Most baby sunscreens won't contain it, but be sure to check the label anyway. About a third of sunscreens still contain vitamin A. Recent studies show that this ingredient may actually heighten skin cancer risk. So, you may want to avoid sunscreens with vitamin A.
Sunscreen FormulationsPoint 3: Formulations. There are several formulations of sunscreen: lotions, sticks and sprays. Lotions and sticks are both good, as long as you use them liberally (a handful). However, sprays can cloud the air with tiny particles of sunscreen that may not be safe to breathe. It's also difficult to get enough sunscreen with sprays. So, you may want to choose creams or sticks instead. Finally, sunscreens come in special types, such as for the face, water resistant and sweat-proof. Facial sunscreens tend to be lighter and less greasy, and may be better for sensitive skin. Sweat-proof stays on longer when you're exercising, and water resistant is great when swimming.
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