We’re all well aware we should be using sun protection, but the complication comes in making sure we are using the right amount and type for our own individual needs.
“Patients often ask me about the best sunscreen. I always tell them that the best SPF is the one that you are happy to use every day and happy to reapply,” says WebMD contributing dermatologist, Dr. Karyn Grossman. If you don’t like the way it feels, smells, etc. and it sits in the drawer, it is the worst sunscreen, since it isn’t being used.
When selecting sun protection for your skin, understand there are different types and different ingredients, and sunscreen labels are changing. Knowing more about sunscreen will help you select the best one.
“Some are concerned about oxybenzone. So, if you are, find a SPF without it. Some people are concerned about nano particles of physical block. If you are, find one without it. Some people are concerned with the whitening of physical blocks. If this bothers you, find a tinted one. With the plethora of options available, you should be able to find one that works for you,” says Dr. Grossman.
Broad Spectrum Protection
This means that it protects against both UVA and UVB rays. Products with antioxidants can help to protect against the UV radiation that gets through the SPF. One of the problems most people have is that they don’t apply enough, often enough. Sunscreen should be applied daily. Not only when you plan on going to the beach. “For a general day that you will be inside most of the time, a regular SPF is fine. However, if you are going to be outside in direct light, or sweating, or hot, make sure to use a water-resistant product. Many water-resistant formulations have improved over time to feel less sticky and tacky. And look at the bottle to see how often you need to reapply. Water-resistant products are now labeled for either 40 or 80 minute reapplications,” says Dr. Grossman.
A teaspoon should cover your face. A shot glass should cover a bathing-suit covered body. If you use a spray, don’t just mist. Spray until you can see the wetness on your skin.
Choose SPF 30
This is the minimal recommended by the American Academy of Dermatology, says Dr. Grossman. “If you are going to be out in direct light, have a history of skin cancer or are fair-skinned, I prefer you to go higher to a SPF 50. There is a smaller increase in percent protection if used correctly. But most people apply less than needed, so my feeling is to go with a higher SPF.”
For skin that is prone to rosacea or tends to get irritated, look for products with physical SPF ingredients such as zinc and titanium.
If your skin is oily or acne-prone, look for oil-free formulations or products for oily skin. Non-comedogenic is another good quality for your SPF to have. Men also tend to like these lighter formulations as they feel less heavy on the skin.
If your skin is dry, look for a richer formulation or a moisturizer/SPF combo. Be aware that most of these are not water-resistant and are good for daily use but not necessarily a trip to the beach.
Lastly, don’t forget a broad-brimmed hat and the shade. No, these are not a substitute for SPF, but they will help to keep the sun off of you.
Read more: The Best Exfoliator for Every Skin Type