Sun Protection: Choosing the Best Sunscreen for Your Skin


Katie Whelan, Staff Writer

As summer approaches and the sun’s rays grow stronger, it’s crucial to use sun protection to protect your skin from harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation. With so many sunscreen options, choosing the best one can be difficult. 


Understanding Sunscreen Labels

Before beginning the selection process, it’s important to understand the information on sunscreen labels.

SPF (Sun Protection Factor): The SPF number indicates the level of protection against UVB rays, which cause sunburn. Choose a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher to block out 97% of UVB radiation. Higher SPF ratings offer better protection, but no sunscreen can provide complete immunity.

Broad-Spectrum Protection: Look for a sunscreen that offers broad-spectrum protection, shielding your skin from both UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays are responsible for premature aging and can contribute to skin cancer, while UVB rays primarily cause sunburn.


Key Factors to Consider:

Physical vs. Chemical Sunscreens: There are two types of sunscreen: physical and chemical. Physical sunscreens with active chemicals such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide provide a physical barrier that reflects and scatters UV radiation. In contrast, chemical sunscreens absorb UV energy and convert it to heat. Both can be beneficial, so choose the one that best suits your skin and preferences.

Skin Type: Tailor your sunscreen choice to your specific skin type. If you have dry skin, choose a sunscreen with moisturizing properties to prevent further dehydration. For oily or acne-prone skin, choose oil-free and non-comedogenic formulas that won’t clog pores or aggravate breakouts. Sensitive skin may benefit from fragrance-free and hypoallergenic options.

Water and sweat resistance: If you want to swim or participate in physical activities that create excessive sweating, choose sunscreen that is water-resistant or sweat-resistant. These compositions stick to the skin better and are effective even when exposed to water or sweat. Remember to reapply sunscreen after swimming or severe sweating, as no sunscreen is completely resistant to wear-off.

Aerosol vs. Lotion: Certain aerosol sunscreens have now been discovered to be highly contaminated with the cancer-causing chemical benzene, posing potential exposure hazards to you and your skin. Use lotion sunscreen instead of spray sunscreen, or at least use spray sunscreen sparingly. Lotions also have a greater SPF than spray sunscreens, which means they provide more protection from the sun’s damaging rays. 


SPF, broad-spectrum protection, skin type, water resistance, and other properties all must be considered when choosing the most effective sunscreen. Keep in mind that sun protection goes beyond sunscreen. Seeking shade, wearing protective gear, and minimizing sun exposure during peak hours are all essential components of a well-rounded sun protection plan. You should make an informed decision that protects your skin from the sun’s damaging rays and encourages a healthy, sun-safe lifestyle.