When shopping for a skin protection product, especially a sunscreen, there are several factors to consider. Here are some of them:
Broad-Spectrum Protection: Look for products that offer broad-spectrum protection. This means they protect against both UVA and UVB rays, both of which can harm your skin and increase your risk of skin cancer.
SPF Rating: SPF, or Sun Protection Factor, is a measure of a sunscreen's ability to prevent UVB rays from damaging the skin. For everyday activities, an SPF of 30 is usually sufficient. If you'll be outdoors for a long time, you might want a higher SPF.
Water Resistance: If you're swimming or sweating, a water-resistant sunscreen can continue to provide protection. Remember that "water-resistant" does not mean "waterproof," and you'll need to reapply it regularly, especially after swimming or sweating.
Skin Type: Different skin types may require different types of products. If you have sensitive skin, look for products labeled as hypoallergenic or for sensitive skin. If you have oily or acne-prone skin, choose a non-comedogenic product that won't clog your pores.
Format: Sunscreen comes in many formats, including creams, lotions, sprays, sticks, and gels. Creams are usually best for dry skin and the face. Gels might be preferable for hairy areas. Sticks are often used around the eyes.
Ingredients: Physical (mineral) sunscreens contain active mineral ingredients, such as titanium dioxide or zinc oxide, which work by sitting on top of the skin to deflect damaging UV rays. Chemical sunscreens penetrate the skin and absorb the UV rays before they can damage your dermis.
Expiration Date: Sunscreen, like all skincare products, has an expiration date. An expired sunscreen might not provide the protection claimed on the label.
Remember to apply sunscreen generously and to reapply it every two hours or immediately after swimming or excessive sweating. Even the highest SPF sunscreens will not fully protect your skin from UV rays, so also seek shade and wear protective clothing, like a long-sleeved shirt, pants, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun's rays are the strongest.