Summer is all about sunshine and spending more time outdoors, but all that sun can do some serious damage if you’re not careful. We all know we’re supposed to put on some protection, but with shelves stocked with sunscreen in all kinds of shapes and sizes, how do we know what’s best for our skin?
The FDA just came out with updated guidelines for sunscreens, a move designed to simplify product labels and claims. The bottom line: look for the words “broad spectrum protection” on the packaging, which means the sunscreen offers both UVA and UVB protection. Broad spectrum sunscreens with an SPF of 15 or higher will be the only ones allowed to state that they protect again skin cancer if used as directed with other sun protection measures. The complete list of changes (to take effect next year) are listed here: http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm258416.htm
Now that you know to buy “broad spectrum protection,” how do you decide between a stick or spray, or any other option on the shelf?
Dr. Ranella Hirsch (www.skincaredoctors.com) explains, “Right now you can find sprays, gels, wipes, lotions…all sorts of different product applications, which really allow you customize the sunscreen experience to your specific skin.”
With all those options, there’s something out there for everyone. “At almost every price point we can really find something that meets any given need…something special for children, for adults, someone looking for anti-aging, for people with various skin types,” she explains.
She explains that it’s the formulation that is improving, simplifying which protection to pick. So, if you have oily skin, Dr. Hirsch says a gel could be ideal because it’s typically oil-free.
She says a spray option is good for someone who is a little bit more athletic and sweats a lot "because it will last a little longer." A spray is also easier to apply on a small, squirmy child. Dr. Hirsch believes sunscreen wipes are a great option for babies and toddlers, too.
There’s not a simple sunscreen pill on the market yet, but there is a supplement sold to act as an anti-oxidant to help protect against UV ray damage. It is taken IN ADDITION to sunscreen use.
Dr. Hirsch points out it doesn’t matter so much what product you pick, or the price you pay for the product, as long as you are protected!
Remember to apply at least one ounce a half-hour before going outside. Reapply every two hours and immediately after swimming. Wondering if you need to throw away that bottle of SPF 30 you bought last year? The answer is NO, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. Your sunscreen is good for two years.