Choosing the Right Sunscreen
About 90% of all skin cancers, including melanoma, are directly related to exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun. Fortunately, you can dramatically reduce your risk by choosing, applying, and reapplying the right sunscreen.
Bold claims and conflicting advice about what goes into a good sunscreen make it easy to feel overwhelmed when buying sunscreen. At MRA, we believe that the best sunscreen is one that you will wear. Provided that it meets three simple rules:
- Make Sure it Says Broad Spectrum: Broad-spectrum sunscreens protect you from UVA rays that age your skin and cause wrinkles and UVB rays which actually burn your skin. It’s important to find a sunscreen that provides broad-spectrum protection because exposure to UVA and UVB rays can cause cancer!
- At Least SPF 30: SPF, or Sun Protection Factor, measures how much UVB radiation is required to burn your protected skin versus the radiation exposure needed to burn unprotected skin.1As the SPF increases, your relative protection from sunburn increases too. A sunscreen labeled as SPF 15 will protect your skin from about 93% of UVB rays and SPF 30 blocks about 97%. The higher the SPF, the more protection it offers up to about SPF 50. After this point, higher SPF ratings will cost more while only providing a slight additional benefit. Don’t be fooled: we almost always get less protection than what is advertised because people tend to use less sunscreen than what is used for testing!
- Water Resistant: First thing first, no sunscreen is waterproof. Instead, sunscreens can be rated as water resistant for 40 or 80 minutes. With water resistant sunscreens, you’ll still need to pay special attention when swimming or sweating to make sure that you reapply sunscreen as directed, but you won’t need to worry as often.
Keep in Mind: Sunscreen is Only as Good as You (Re)Apply It: Don’t skimp when lathering up with your preferred sunscreen. Sunscreens work, but only if you apply it correctly and then reapply as directed! You should use about one ounce when applying it to your body – for reference that’s about the size of a shot glass. Then, you should re-apply every two hours or after you get out of the water which can wash it off your skin sooner.