Choosing the best sunscreen

Choosing the best sunscreen

By Shannon Davis, CarePro Health Services, Linn County LIVING WELL Magazine

The best way to avoid painful sunburns, skin damage, and a higher risk of skin cancer is by regularly wearing sunscreen while in the sun. The best sunscreens provide broad-spectrum, long-lasting protection with ingredients that pose few health risks and don’t break down in the sun. But with so many sunscreens out there, how do you tell which products are the best for you and your family?

Pharmacists at CarePro Health Services are helping to take the guesswork out of buying sunscreen. With the help of the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) 2011 Sunscreen Report and their rating system on sunscreen safety and efficacy, CarePro Pharmacies are stocked with quality sunscreen for you and your family. Here are a few key points to selecting the perfect sunscreen:

1. Look at the label

You do this with your food, and it’s important to do this with what you put on your skin, too. Anything that you put on your skin is absorbed into your blood stream, so selecting a low-risk, non-toxic sunscreen is best. The EWG has rated the following ingredients as the top three safest products that provide the best sun protection: zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, avobenzone and mexoryl SX (or ecamsule). It’s also important to select a sunscreen with broad-spectrum protection, meaning it provides UVA and UVB protection.

The EWG recommends avoiding the following ingredients: oxybenzone, vitamin A, which can also be called retinyl palmitate or retinol, and added insect repellent. Oxybenzone can trigger allergic reactions, is a potential hormone disruptor and can penetrate the skin in relatively large amounts. Vitamin A is often used in night creams for its antioxidant properties, helping to slow skin aging. However, in the presence of sunlight, research has shown that it may speed the development of skin tumors and lesions. Added insect repellent, which may help to keep pests away, has been shown to cause the sunscreen chemicals to break down faster and leave you unprotected. If you need bug spray, buy it separately and apply it first.

2. Know what SPF means

All SPFs provide the same amount of protection, but the higher the SPF, the longer the protection lasts. Anything higher than “SPF 50+” may tempt you to stay in the sun longer, but this isn’t wise. Even if you don’t burn, you are not protected from other kinds of skin damage. It is better to use SPF 15 – 50 and reapply more often. And for a day at the beach or the pool, use SPF 30 – 50.

3. Choose creams over aerosols and sprays

While sprays and aerosols may be easy and convenient, they may not be the best choice. These products produce tiny particles in the air that are not safe to breathe or ingest and aren’t good for the environment. Choosing creams instead will protect your health and the air around you.

By following these three easy rules of thumb, you’ll be able to provide yourself and your family with long-lasting protection from the sun and harmful skin damage and enjoy these sunny, summer days. All CarePro Pharmacies are dedicated to carrying only safe, effective lines of sunscreen, so for easy sunscreen shopping visit to find a CarePro location near you.