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More about sunscreens – SPF, UV rays, mineral powder sunscreens and more

Updated on January 16, 2012

Sunscreens are our most important defense against the sun's damaging UV-A and UV-B rays. Most people are confused by the huge variety of sunscreens available on the market today. Which sunscreens are the best at reflecting the sun's damaging UV rays? This hub talks all about sunscreens and gives you the most important / complete information on most sunscreens available on the market today. In the previous hub about skin cancer melanoma, I have talked a little bit about sunscreen. But I feel the need to elaborate on this topic so that everyone is well informed.

The SPF? Sun Protection Factor or SPF is clearly written on all bottles of sunscreen on the market today. Obviously, the higher the SPF the more UV rays they block. However, it is important to note that no sunscreen will block all UV rays. A SPF of 15 blocks about 92% of the UV rays. Most people can get away with wearing a SPF 15 for occasional sun exposure. If you are super sensitive to the sun and have a history of skin cancer melanoma in the family, it is better to wear a higher SPF sunscreen for more protection. It is interesting to note that the darkest black skin has about a natural SPF of 13.

UV-A and UV-B radiation. Both UV-A and UV-B rays are damaging to the skin. UV-B radiation have a shorter wavelength and can cause more harm than UV-A radiation. UV-A radiation have a longer wavelength but can also cause skin cancer melanoma. When selecting a sunscreen, it is important to keep in mind that you have to get a board spectrum sunscreen that will protect you against both rays.

Physical vs. Chemical barrier? There are two kinds of active ingredients in a sunscreen. The physical barrier sit on top of your face and blocks the sun's damaging UV rays from hitting the skin. Only titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are physical barriers. All other ingredients are chemical barriers. Those active ingredients react with the skin to chemically breakdown UV rays. For those with sensitive skin, it is better to stick with physical barriers instead. Each active ingredient can block either UV-A or UV-B or both. It is important to know which one it blocks because you want to select a sunscreen that has board spectrum activity. Mineral powder sunscreens are physical barriers and considered one of the best sunscreens on the market today because they have board spectrum coverage and are very gentle for the skin. Those with oily / acne prone skin need to wear mineral powder sunscreens because the traditional liquid ones have chemical fillers that might cause more acne.

Reapply every hour or more if necessary. Sunscreens do not work forever and need to be reapplied whenever needed. When you are outside, it is necessary to reapply at least every hour to properly protect yourself. Many dermatologists and experts recommend 1 oz of sunscreen for the face and body. I know it seem like it's a lot, but the proper amount will give you the stated SPF for the skin.

The skin cancer foundation's seal of recommendation. With so many different sunscreens on the market today, how do you select a good one? In addition to looking at the active ingredients, it is also important to check on the skin cancer foundation's website for additional details. They provide so much useful information about sunscreens and all the things you need to do to properly protect yourself. The website allows you to search for products that have the seal of recommendation.


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    • peacependant profile image

      peacependant 6 years ago

      I found this very informing, thank you. It's good to find out more about such an important topic.