How to choose a Sunscreen

For many people, the use of sunscreen is an inseparable part of the skincare routine. And with all reason. Protecting ourselves from the sun’s rays has a positive impact on our health and our appearance.
Studies indicate that between 30 and 40% of the melanomas (freckles, sunspots, and wrinkles) are caused by sun exposure. These damages are usually imperceptible at the beginning when our skin is still young and regenerates easily. Unfortunately, the damage caused by the sun is cumulative and its effects are in many cases irreversible.
Other dangers that haunt us are skin diseases. These conditions are very varied and range from benign, as melanomas to lethal as malignant melanomas.
To preserve the freshness of our skin and prevent the development of diseases is necessary to use sunscreens.
The question we all ask ourselves is:

Which is the Best Sunscreen for me?

This is not a simple question. In the market, there are countless options that we can choose. While a few know which is the best sunscreen for their skin, others are content to choose the first brand that is at hand. If not using sunscreen affects your skin, use the wrong one too.
There are many characteristics that we could take into account, but to simplify it, I will only use the ones that are most relevant to me.

Sunburn Protection Factor (SPF)

One of the factors that must be evaluated before choosing is the factor of protection against sunburn of the product. This indicates the fraction of radiation that passes through the sunscreen layer (2 mg / cm2).

Sunburn Protection Factor (SPF)
Graphical representation of the sunburn protection factor present in sunscreens and its percentage of protection.

As you can see, as the spf increases, the protection increases. But if you look closely at the figures, you will see that the difference in ability to protect against sunburn decreases as the SPF increases, but not the price.

Broad Spectrum Sunscreen

light spectrum
Courtesy of Skin Cancer Foundation

Until recently, the studies only emphasized ultraviolet radiation causing sunburn and tanning (UVB) and did not give much importance to ultraviolet radiation type A (UVA). Unfortunately, this radiation is not absorbed by the ozone layer and although its effects on the skin are not as visible as those of UVB, if they affect the formation of malignant cells, for their ability to reach the deep layers of the skin.
It is for this reason that it is not enough to choose a gel, spray or lotion with a high SPF, it is necessary to look for one, whose label clearly states that it is broad spectrum, multi-spectrum or UVA / UVB. What guarantees protection in a greater range of radiation.

Water Resistant Sunscreen.

The protection provided by a sunscreen depends directly on the amount of product that we apply (2 mg / cm2) and its permanence on the skin. Therefore this must be resistant to water and sweat. Although all of them dissolve in water, the water resistant ones last longer on the skin, guaranteeing our protection even when doing physical activities that make us sweat. Be sure to choose a sunscreen according to the activity you will perform, preferably water resistant.

Safe Sunscreen

Not all blockers or sunscreens are safe. Some of them contain in their ingredients substances that can cause allergies, induce acne or skin cancer among others. Although the FDA has taken actions to restrict the concentrations of these ingredients in sunscreens, much remains to be done in that regard. Here I leave about 3 ingredients that your sunscreen should NOT contain.
Parabens, oxybenzone or retinyl palmitate.

Eco-Friendly Sunscreen

Coral Bleaching
Current coral bleaching in Fiji. Credit: Professor Peter J Mumby, University of Queensland

If you are in favor of taking care of the environment and contributing to the sustainable enjoyment of beaches and their ecosystems, you can support the task by choosing products that do not contain harmful components to the flora and fauna. Every day more ecological awareness is acquired. An example of this is the state of Hawai, where his government is evaluating laws to eliminate the use of sunscreens containing harmful chemicals for coral reefs. Studies claim that ingredients such as oxybenzone and octyl methoxycinnamate contribute to the bleaching of coral reefs.

Perfect, we now know the characteristics of our ideal sunscreen.

Now another question arises.

Which Sunscreen should I buy? Cream or Spray.

I know that many prefer the spray, it is easy to apply, it does not leave your skin oily, they dry quickly and reach all parts of the body easily. Unlike most sun creams, which must be rubbed all over our body to ensure protection, covering our skin with a greasy and wet sensation, then having to wash our hands.

So far the spray is winning.

The truth is that they are very popular with the simple fact that they facilitate their use. But that does not mean that they are better than creams. In fact, studies show that people who use a spray, precisely because of its ease of use, only apply a third of the amount required for their protection. Another point against it is the safety of applying it to the face, If you inhale the microparticles, they may reach the bloodstream.

As for the creams, it is true that we delay in applying them and our skin is moist and greasy. But with them, we know exactly how much we are applying and are safe to apply them throughout the body.

Regardless of which one we choose, if we want to protect ourselves from the sun we must follow these simple steps.

  • Use sunscreen every day, even when cloudy, UVA radiation goes through the clouds.
  • Apply the required amount of sunscreen. Remember that the degree of protection shown by your protector is based on a certain amount. If you apply less quantity, you receive less protection.
  • Apply them 30 minutes before exposing yourself to the sun.
  • Renew your protection every 2 or 3 hours depending on the solar intensity and the activity you do. Sunscreens get diluted with water on our sweat and it is necessary to replace the losses in the sunscreen layer.
  • Choose a fat-free sunscreen if you are prone to acne.
  • Choose an unscented protector if your skin is sensitive and irritates easily.
  • Do not put all your protection on sunscreens. Wear sunglasses, hats or caps, and cover your brasses with long sleeves.

Final Conclusion:

To guarantee its effectiveness, the sunscreen must possess the following attributes:

  1. SPF 30 to SPF 50+: The sunscreen must absorb at least 97% of the sun’s rays.
  2. Broad Spectrum: Must be capable of absorbing radiation in the range of 280 to 400 nm.
  3. Resistant to water: It must remain on the body without dilution and lose the protective capacity for at least 80 min.
  4. Safe: It must not contain Parabens, oxybenzone or retinyl palmitate. This substance may affect the appearance of diseases such as acne and malignant skin diseases.
  5. Eco-friendly: Ingredients that do not harm the marine ecosystem.

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