Probably one of the most frequent questions asked by patients is, what sunscreen to use. With the variety of suncreens available, it’s easy to get confused about what product to buy.
Sunscreen is used to prevent ultraviolet radiation from reaching the skin. There are two types of rays, UVA and UVB that may damage skin, and increase your risk of skin cancer. UVB is the chief culprit behind sunburns. SPF (Sun Protection Factor) is only a measure of the sunscreen’s ability to prevent UVB rays from damaging your skin. SPF 30, will keep filter out 97 percent of all incoming UVB rays and SPF 50 keeps out 98 percent. Really more than that lets say SPF 100 is really no longer of any great benefit.
SPF does not give any information on the protection it offers again UVA. Unfortunately, there is no system right now to let the consumer know what type of UVA protection you are using by just picking up a bottle of sunscreen at your local pharmacy. UVA rays are different than UVB and penetrate the skin more deeply than UVB. UVA rays are known to contribute to aging and wrinkling (photoaging) and in the development of skin cancers.
What you should try to look at as far as using a sunscreen is one that is labeled as a broad spectrum UVA and UVB sunscreen. We usually recommend that when purchasing a sunscreen, buy a product with SPF of 30 or higher and check its ingredients to make sure it offer broad-spectrum protection. UVA filters such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide offer great protection. Our best sellers at Bowes Dermatology include MD Solar Science Mineral Screen and SkinCeuticals Physical Fusion. Make sure you protect your skin this summer with these great sunscreens!