Summer has arrived in force in Florida, bringing with it heat, humidity, and plenty of sunshine. We can’t stress enough that you should be applying sunscreen every day as part of your daily skin care routine. But if you’re just not there yet, at least wear it religiously during all your outdoor summertime activities. Ultraviolet radiation from the sun is so harmful that it damages your skin’s DNA and causes sunburns, premature skin aging, and skin cancer. Sunscreen is one of the most effective tools you have to protect your skin from the effects of dangerous UV rays.
We recommend restocking your sunscreen supply before you hit the beach this summer. Don’t grab the half-empty bottle in your cabinet! Check the expiration date first – the ingredients in sunscreens expire and become less effective.
Choosing a new sunscreen may seem dauting with so many options available, but we have the essential guide you need to choose the right one for skin protection. Keep reading to learn more.
SPF stands for sun protection factor. It measures the percentage of rays that are reflected off the skin instead of being absorbed after sunscreen is applied. At minimum, we recommend wearing SPF 30, which blocks 97% of rays. SPF 50 blocks 98% of the sun’s rays. No sunscreen can block 100% of the sun’s ultraviolet rays – not even SPF 100.
There are two types of sunscreens: physical (or mineral) and chemical. Both are effective for skin protection. Here are some guidelines for when you might prefer one over the other.
- Physical (mineral). Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are the active ingredients in physical sunscreens. These minerals block UV rays and reflect them off the skin’s surface. Mineral sunscreens are less likely to cause skin irritation, which makes them a good choice if you have sensitive skin. The primary downside is that some physical sunscreens don’t blend into your skin well and leave a visible white film.
- Chemical. Chemical sunscreens are made with organic compounds that absorb UV radiation before it’s absorbed by your skin. These types of sunscreens are lightweight, blend easily into your skin, and are great for everyday wear. In 2019, the FDA released the results of a study revealing some of the popular chemicals used to make sunscreen (avobenzone, oxybenzone, octocrylene, homosalate, octisalate and octinoxate) are absorbed into the skin after use. More research is needed to determine the significance of these results. Right now, the benefits of wearing sunscreen far outweigh potential risks.
UVA and UVB rays are both dangerous to your skin. UVB rays are responsible for causing sunburn, while UVA rays are linked to wrinkles, sunspots, and premature skin aging. Both types of ultraviolet rays are associated with sunburn and skin cancer formation. Look for a sunscreen labeled “broad-spectrum,” meaning it provides protection against UVA and UVB rays.
Water-resistant sunscreen remains on wet or sweaty skin up to 40 or 80 minutes. Simply being outside in Florida during the hot, humid summer weather guarantees your sunscreen will need to overcome damp skin, which is why we recommend a water-resistant brand. Even with water resistance protection, you’ll still need to reapply sunscreen vigilantly every two hours for effective skin protection, especially if you’re swimming or sweating.
Lotion, spray, stick, gel – is one type of application method more effective over the others? The answer is no, so feel free to choose the one that you like best and the one you’re most likely to apply as directed. At the end of the day, the BEST sunscreen for your skin is the one you actually use.
Call FLDSCC for All Your Summer Skin Care Needs
At Florida Dermatology and Skin Cancer Centers, we want you to have a fantastic summer without worrying about the health of your skin! Call us today to make an appointment for an annual examination or skin cancer screening.