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Promoting Healthy Skin – Sunscreen

Q. How do I know which sunscreen is best?

A. Summertime is here! Everyone is excited for outdoor B-B-Qs and fun at the beach! The FDA recently released new sunscreen label guidelines for 2012 which will change how we all shop for sunscreen products starting next year. I am routinely asked about my favorite sunscreen and the truth is there are many good sunscreens to choose from.  I thought I would pass along these tips to help protect your skin:

1. Sunscreen helps protect skin from sunburn, but all sun exposure increases the risk of skin cancer, even with sunscreen. Remember, you are still exposed to harmful rays during a cloudy or foggy day.

2. Always use SPF 30 or higher with “broad spectrum” coverage to protect yourself from both  UVA and UVB damage.

3.  Look for Zinc or Titanium Dioxide ingredients for the best physical block.  Neutrogena’s Helioplex  also provides good protection.

4.  A golf ball size amount of sunscreen is required to protect your entire body

5.  No Sunscreen is waterproof. Be sure to reapply after any prolonged water exposure,  sweating,  or every 2 hours in  direct sun. The new FDA guidelines will only allow the term “Water Resistant” when refering to water exposure. Starting in 2012, products will be rated after 40 mintues and 80 minutes of water exposure.

6.  Apply all sunscreen in front of a mirror 30 minutes before sun exposure to ensure an even application to your entire body

7.  Be careful with spray sunscreen. You need to be generous with the spray to prevent blotchy “skipped” areas.  They can be difficult to apply in a windy environment. Currently there are investigations into the safety of accidental inhalation of the spray sunscreens during application, so try to hold your breath when applying spray sunscreen to avoid potentially inhaling the chemicals.

8.  Hats and Sun protective clothing are important to use along with sunscreen. Look for sporty sun protective clothing at L.L. Bean where they have mens and womens clothing with SPF 50. Many other manufacturers have also developed clothing and hats with SPF protection.

9.  The only “all natural” type of sunscreen is Zinc. Beware that Zinc will often leave a white film on your skin.

10. One of my favorite sunscreen manufacturers is Neutrogena. They have a wide selection of sunscreen products and many options for sensitive skin. I love their new lightweight UltraSheer liquid lotion that has SPF 55. Another great sunscreen choice is Anthelios by La Roche Posay. Le Roche Posay has developed an Anthelios Mineral Sunscreen with Titanium Dioxide which provides great broad spectrum coverage. California Baby or Aveeno Baby Natural are both good choices for little ones! Newborns should avoid direct sunlight and should not use sunsreen until about 6 months of age.

Whether you are in Maine or California-Enjoy the great outdoors but be safe and protect your skin!

To read more about the recent FDA guidelines for sunscreen labeling, you can read this official press release from the FDA :

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