Regularly using the right sunscreen is the single most important thing you can do to care for your skin. Not using enough sunscreen often enough can lead to serious health issues including skin cancer, not to mention damage to your skin’s youthfulness that nothing can remedy. Are you looking for authoritative guidance to sort through the zillions of sunscreen products and confusing marketing claims? Want to understand how to tell just how good your favorite sunscreen is? Looking for a sunscreen that you and your family will use all the time? I’m here to help. These FAQs are from the American Academy of Dermatology and are as authoritative as it gets. I’ve highlighted the essential points for ease of use. All my patients know how important it is to me to get the word out about proper sunscreen use. I know it can be confusing but putting the effort in to really understand the different types of sunscreen and how to use them is worth it. Think about it—why risk undoing all the time, effort, and expense we’ve put in to keep our skin looking young and beautiful? Don’t risk it all for the short-term benefits of a tan.
Everyone. Sunscreen use can help prevent skin cancer by protecting you from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays. Anyone can get skin cancer, regardless of age, gender or race. In fact, it is estimated that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime.
The American Academy of Dermatology recommends everyone use sunscreen that offers the following:
Every day you go outside. The sun emits harmful UV rays year-round. Even on cloudy days, up to 80 percent of the sun’s harmful UV rays can penetrate your skin.
Snow, sand and water increase the need for sunscreen because they reflect the sun’s rays.
Sunlight consists of two types of harmful rays that reach the earth — UVA rays and UVB rays. Overexposure to either can lead to skin cancer.
There is no safe way to tan. Every time you tan, you damage your skin. As this damage builds, you speed up the aging of your skin and increase your risk for all types of skin cancer.
The best type of sunscreen is the one you will use again and again. Just make sure it offers broad-spectrum (UVA and UVB) protection, has an SPF of 30 or higher and is water-resistant.
The kind of sunscreen you use is a matter of personal choice, and may vary depending on the area of the body to be protected. Available sunscreen options include lotions, creams, gels, ointments, wax sticks and sprays.
Some sunscreen products are also available in combination with moisturizers and cosmetics. While these products are convenient, they are not subject to the same regulations as products labeled as sunscreen and therefore may not provide the same level of sun protection. Sunscreen also may be sold in combination with an insect repellant. The AAD recommends purchasing and using these products separately -- sunscreen needs to be applied generously and often, whereas, insect repellant should be used sparingly and much less frequently.
Regardless of which sunscreen you choose, be sure to apply it generously to achieve the UV protection indicated on the product label.
Chemical sunscreens work like a sponge, absorbing the sun’s rays. They contain one or more of the following active ingredients: oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and octinoxate. These formulations tend to be easier to rub into the skin without leaving a white residue.
Physical sunscreens work like a shield, sitting sit on the surface of your skin and deflecting the sun’s rays. They contain the active ingredients zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide. Opt for this sunscreen if you have sensitive skin.
Dermatologists recommend using a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, which blocks 97 percent of the sun’s rays. Higher-number SPFs block slightly more of the sun’s rays, but no sunscreen can block 100 percent of the sun’s rays.
It is also important to remember that high-number SPFs last the same amount of time as low-number SPFs. A high-number SPF does not allow you to spend additional time outdoors without reapplication. All sunscreens should be reapplied approximately every two hours when outdoors, even on cloudy days, and after swimming or sweating, according to the directions on the bottle.
Dermatologists recommend using sunscreen every day when you are outside, not just during the summer. If you are using sunscreen every day and in the correct amount, a bottle should not last long. If you find a bottle of sunscreen that you have not used for some time, here are some guidelines you can follow:
Using sunscreen may decrease your skin’s production of vitamin D.
No, but the regulatory language can be confusing. What the FDA has done is issue a proposed rule, which asks manufacturers to provide more data about the safety of several sunscreen ingredients. These sunscreen ingredients have been used in the United States for years.
A recent study by the FDA looked at four sunscreen ingredients and concluded that absorption of these ingredients into the body supported the need for additional safety data. However, the study noted that the data do not conclude that there are any effects on a person’s health and more research would be needed before it that can be determined. Importantly, the study authors stated that individuals should continue to use sunscreen.
The FDA is asking for more safety data to find out the following:
This proposal rule classifies sunscreen ingredients.
The FDA is proposing that two ingredients are “generally recognized as safe and effective” (GRASE). These ingredients are:
The FDA proposes that two other ingredients are not GRASE:
Not to worry. You won’t find either of these ingredients in sunscreen legally sold in the United States.
The FDA is calling for more safety data on the following 12 ingredients before determining whether these ingredients can be classified as GRASE:
While the FDA is asking for more data, it does not say that the ingredients are unsafe. It does not ask the public to stop using sunscreens that contain any of these ingredients.
Hopefully these FAQ will help you choose the right sunscreen for you. The following is a list of the products that are available in our office and our on-line store and what I love about each one. Use code SUMMER2020 for 15% off 2 or more MGMD sun protection products through May 26, 2020.
You can now purchase Skinbetter products through my portal online. Visit our on-line store and click on the link to "Enroll to Buy" to purchase Skinbetter products. Order $250 and receive a FREE Skinbetter Instant Effect Gel EYE until May 31, 2020.
MGMD® Sheer Effect Sunscreen
Chemical – Free sunscreen great for sensitive and acne prone skin
MGMD® Sheer Effect Tinted Sunscreen
This product is beloved by many due to its silky matte finish and Chemical - Free ingredients. Perfect for daily use, especially when treating skin pigmentation.
MGMD® Sheer Effect Sunscreen Spray
I love this spray. It’s a pump spray, not aerosol and its Chemical - Free. It is lightweight, non irritating, and easy to rub in. I use it on my body but can be applied to the face and scalp using your hands.
MGMD® Citrix Sun Shield Ultra
Skinbetter sunbetter® TONE SMART SPF 68 Sunscreen Compact
So excited about this new product. It’s a great addition to the crew. This handy compact provides a mineral based sunscreen with a hint of color.
Skinbetter sunbetter® SHEER SPF 56 Sunscreen Stick
Another must-have for those areas that need extra protection like the nose, tops of ear, and the delicate areas below the eyes.
Remember, sunscreen alone cannot fully protect you.
In addition to wearing sunscreen, dermatologists recommend taking the following steps to protect your skin and find skin cancer early: