Screening your Sunscreen: sunscreens are not created equal


Posted on August 11, 2012 by

Idea Mouse

Sunscreen has been in the news quite a bit this year because of new FDA regulations 1.  Sunscreen manufacturers will be required to identify the type of rays that are being blocked, and how water resistant the formula is.  The regulations are not in effect yet, but they highlight an important topic: sunscreens are not created equal.  It would be nice to be able to choose sunscreen purely by SPF number, but unfortunately that should only be part of what you consider.

Check the ingredients.  When I was looking at sunscreens this year I was surprised to see how many formulations don’t contain both UVA and UVB protection.  If you don’t have both, then you are only protected from half of the sun’s harmful rays.  To get full spectrum UVA/UVB coverage your sunscreen must contain one of the following active ingredients 2:

– Titanium dioxide

– Zinc oxide

– Avobenzene

Check the number.  Sunscreen should contain at least spf 30 3.  Period.

Check the water resistance.  Consider the activities you will engage in while wearing the sunscreen.  If you are going to be walking around in the heat, working out, or swimming then it is important to choose a water resistant sunscreen.  Read the label carefully for how often you should reapply when swimming etc.

Once you have chosen the right sunscreen, follow these friendly tips:

Apply sunscreen at least fifteen minutes before you go outside.

Use a higher SPF on your face than on your body.

Don’t forget the tips of your ears! 

Use a chap stick or gloss that has spf.  My favorite is Dior Lip Glow.



  2. Beauty, the New Basics by Rona Berg. Published January 2001, Workman Publishing Company, Inc.


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