Sunscreen Basics

With summer fast approaching and May designated as skin cancer awareness month, there is no better time to review our favorite sunscreen recommendations. As dermatologists, we recommend daily sunscreen use in our patients to not only protect against the risks of skin cancer but also reduce the signs of early aging.

In general, sunscreens are categorized as physical blockers (reflect the sun’s rays) or chemical blockers  which absorb the UV light and transform it into a non-damaging wavelength of light or heat. Common physical ingredients are titanium and zinc oxide. Common chemical filters include avobenzone, oxybenzone, octocrylene, octinoxate, salicylate, ecamsule, and cinnamates.

So what is the best sunscreen? Most dermatologist will say the best sunscreen is one that you will apply every day. Basic recommendations include broad spectrum meaning the sunscreen protects against UVB and UVA rays, SPF (sun protection factor) of 30 or above, and water resistance if excessive sweating or swimming is expected. Additionally, sunscreen must be applied correctly in order to be effective. Sunscreen should ideally be applied 15 minutes prior to going outdoors. Typically, one ounce of sunscreen is necessary to cover all exposed areas of the skin to prevent sunburn and photodamage. Lastly, sunscreens need to be reapplied every 2 hours or after swimming in order to remain effective.

Additional benefits of many sunscreens include formulation with anti-oxidants. Anti-oxidants reduce the free radicals in the skin which are responsible for oxidative damage to the skin. Some of our favorites at the Skin & Laser Center include the following:lotion1

  • EltaMD Excellent Broad-Spectrum Sun Care line with products for both the face and body. UV Clear SPF 46, UV Daily Tinted SPF 40lotion2, lotion3UV Aero SPF 45 (the only zinc oxide spray, good for any area of the face and body), and the new UV Elements SPF 44. Elta products are free of dyes, parabens, fragrance, gluten and formulated for acne and rosacea prone skin.
  • ALASTIN Skincare HydraTint Pro Mineral Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 36: Pure physical blocker containing zinc and titanium oxide and powerful antioxidants to counteract IR-generated free radicals as well as air pollution-induced oxidative stress.
  • SkinMedica Total Defense and Repair (TDR) is a revolutionary superscreen product designed to protect from UV, Infrared, visible light, and heat. This product also contains a unique blend of antioxidants that improves fine lines and wrinkles.

There are many different sunscreens out there that each offer unique benefits. Visit the Skin & Laser Center of Grosse Pointe and let us help you pick out the best sunscreen product for your skin type.

And remember, sunscreens are only one component of the photoprotection equation. Sun protective clothing, wide brimmed hats, sunglasses, and seeking shade are crucial factors in sun protection.