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Sunnier days are ahead, so there is no time like the present to consider which sunscreen you may want to add to your shopping list this year. If it’s been a few summers since you last purchased sunscreen, it’s time to switch it out. Many people don’t realize that their sunscreen has an expiration date. Used as recommended, though, one may never reach that date because they run out before the ingredients can break down. That’s our ideal situation. Moving on, though, when you’re looking for a new sunscreen product, are there things you should know? We’ll see! Here, we answer some common questions people have about sunscreen.

Is High SPF better than Lower SPF?

Some people like the idea of an SPF 15 product because they think they will get tan. Some like the idea of SPF 50 or higher because they really want to protect their skin. The truth is, SPF 30 is very efficient. No sunscreen blocks 100 percent of the sun’s UVB light. An SPF 30 product blocks 97 percent. Higher SPF blocks only slightly more. Applying SPF 30 sunscreen properly, your skin should receive very good protection against sun damage. Having higher SPF does not mean you can wait longer to reapply the product. Regardless of your chosen SPF, sunscreen should be applied every two hours when in the sun, more frequently if you sweat or swim.

Why is Broad-Spectrum Sunscreen Recommended?

Standard sunscreen protects against UVB ultraviolet light. UVB is associated with skin damage and premature aging, so we want a product that can protect us from that risk. Still, there are UVA rays in sunlight as well. These rays strongly contribute to the risk of skin cancer, including melanoma. Broad-spectrum sunscreen protects the skin from both of these types of ultraviolet light.

How Much Sunscreen Should I Apply?

Here’s another important question. If sunscreen is not applied properly, it cannot do the best job of preventing sun damage and sunburn. Next time you apply sunscreen, measure it and see how you’ve been doing in this area. For efficient coverage, you should apply 1/2 teaspoon of sunscreen to the face. One ounce, the same as one shot glass, should be used for the rest of the body. It is important to apply sunscreen to the face even if you wear an SPF moisturizer, foundation, or powder. This should be done unless you wear a mineral powder formulated with sunscreen over other makeup products.

Should I Wear a Physical or Chemical Sunscreen?

Physical sunscreens are often referred to as mineral sunscreen. Both mineral and chemical sunscreens are considered safe and effective at preventing sunburn and long-term sun damage. The difference is in the way they work. Chemical sunscreen products have chemical ingredients that absorb UV light and transmute it into heat in the skin. Mineral sunscreens contain ingredients like titanium oxide or zinc oxide that reflect the sun’s rays so they bounce off the skin. The ingredients in both types of sunscreen have been carefully studied and proven safe and effective, so the choice of sunscreen type is entirely personal.

Give your Skin a Fighting Chance

At Westport Dermatology & Laser Center, patients receive one-on-one care that can include personalized services as well as personalized skin care. To schedule your visit, contact us at (203) 226-3600.

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