Warm weather is here which means more time spent being outdoors, sitting poolside, or relaxing on the beach. With all of that additional sun exposure it is important to apply an effective sunscreen liberally and frequently to protect against sunburn and long-term skin damage that could increase your risk for skin cancer. Unfortunately, not all sunscreens are created equal so it is important to know the active ingredients to look for to find the right choice for you.
The Sun Protection Factor (SPF) is what most people commonly associate with a sunscreen’s level of effectiveness against ultraviolet (UV) rays; however, a SPF rating only represents protection against UVB rays and just those sunscreens advertised as broad spectrum may also offer protection against UVA1 or UVA2 rays, which can penetrate deeper in to the skin than UVB rays. The following active ingredients, along with their protection range, are those approved by the FDA for use in sunscreens.
Aminobenzoic acid (UVB)
Dioxybenzone (UVB and UVA2)
Oxybenzone (UVB and UVA2)
Padimate O (UVB)
Sulisobenzone (UVB and UVA2)
Titanium dioxide (UVB and UVA2)
Trolamine salicylate (UVB)
Zinc oxide (UVB, UVA1 and UVA2)
Finding the right sunscreen is a crucial step in maintaining good skin health but even the best sunscreens are not 100% effective against harmful UV rays. It is also important to remember that the mere use of sunscreen does not give you the ability to spend an uninterrupted day in direct sunlight without reapplying it often and seeking shelter when necessary.
Remembering to use sunscreen is not always convenient but exercising due diligence with this important healthcare product helps to ensure a fun and healthy day in the sun without regret the next!