What should I look for in a sunscreen and how do I apply it correctly?

Sunscreen labels provide consumers with information about whether a sunscreen will protect against skin cancer in addition to sunburn. This is a requirement by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Labels will also indicate whether the product is water-resistant.

sunscreen applicationThe type of sunscreen you select is a matter of personal choice and will vary depending on what part of your body you're protecting.

Creams: best for dry skin and the face (best option overall for even protection) – Brands such as: EltaMD line and Neutrogena
Gels: good for hairy areas, such as the scalp or male chest – brand such as Solbar 30
Sticks: good to use around the eyes (great for treatment at the beach and for athletes) – brand such as Neutrogena Sport bar
Sprays: are sometimes preferred by parents since they are easy to apply to children. Make sure to spray enough sunscreen to cover all exposed skin and rub it in to ensure even coverage. Never spray sunscreen around or near your face or mouth. Instead, spray sunscreen on your hands and then apply to the face. Note: current FDA regulations on testing and standardization do not pertain to spray sunscreens. The agency continues to evaluate these products to ensure safety and effectiveness.
Sunscreen and Insect Repellent: Sunscreen also may be available in combination with an insect repellant. It is recommended that these products be purchased and used separately; sunscreen needs to be applied generously and often, whereas insect repellant should be used sparingly and much less frequently.

There also are sunscreens made for specific uses, such as on sensitive skin or on babies 6 months or older. Broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF30 or higher may be applied to the exposed skin of babies and toddlers 6 months or older.  Sunscreens that use the ingredients zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, or special sunscreens made for infants or toddlers cause less irritation. Brands such as Blue Lizard, EltaMD and UV Pure.

How to use and apply sunscreen

Use enough sunscreen to generously coat all skin that will be not be covered by clothing.Sunscreen-Full

One ounce, enough to fill a shot glass, is considered the amount needed to cover exposed areas of the body.

Don't forget to apply to the tops of your feet, your neck, your ears and the top of your head.

Apply sunscreen to dry skin 15 minutes before going outdoors.Remember you need to reapply every 2-3 hours. Sunscreens higher in SPF will break down more slowly. For example, a sunscreen with SPF 30 should be applied every 2 hours but one with an SPF of 70 may give protection closer to 3 hours.

If you are exposed to water we recommend you reapply after coming out, even if you have not reached the recommended 80 minutes on the bottle.

Don't forget your lips! Skin cancer also can form on the lips. To protect your lips, apply a lip balm or lipstick that contains sunscreen with an SPF30 or higher.

If sunscreen is used every day and in the correct amount, a bottle should not last long. Here are some guidelines to determine if an unfinished bottle of sunscreen is still effective for use:

The FDA requires that all sunscreens retain their original strength for at least three years.

Some sunscreens do include an expiration date. If the expiration date has passed, throw out the sunscreen. Additionally, if sunscreen has been open for over 1 year, throw it out as well.

If the sunscreen does not have an expiration date, write the date the sunscreen was purchased on the bottle — that way you'll know when to throw it out.

Look for visible signs that the sunscreen may no longer be good. Any obvious changes in the color or consistency of the product mean it's time to purchase a new bottle. 

Need an appointment to address your skin concerns?  Call (610) 288-2908 or schedule online at www.padermpartners.com

Curreri head 144x144
button book-an-appointment-with-dr-curreri

Dr. Alexis Curreri, M.D.
June 1, 2018