Get Smart About Sunscreen This Summer
You already know that wearing sunscreen reduces your risk for skin cancer while preventing the development of wrinkles, dark spots, and other signs of aging. But what formula should you buy? How much do you need to apply? And what do the numbers really mean? Before heading down the shore this summer, get smart about sunscreen with these three tips for sun safety.
The Scoop on SPF
SPF stands for sun protection factor, but sunscreen buyers often misunderstand the meaning of this number. The SPF of your sunscreen formula correlates with the percentage of the sun’s rays that can shine through. For example, SPF 30 blocks 97% of the sun’s rays, while SPF 50 blocks 98%. Dermatologists recommend relying on a sunscreen of at least SPF 30, or higher if you tend to burn easily. In addition, the Skin Cancer Foundation notes that even an SPF 50 formula can reduce your risk for some types of skin cancer by up to half with regular use.
The Science Behind Sunscreen Ingredients
Two different types of sunscreen ingredients protect your skin from the sun in different ways. Chemical sunscreens soak up UV rays before they can penetrate and damage your skin. Examples include formulas with octisalate and avobenzone. Physical sunscreens actually block and disperse the rays so they can’t reach your skin. Look for labels that include zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.
The Benefits of Broad Spectrum
The sun’s rays are so dangerous to the skin because they expose your cells to harmful UV radiation. UVA rays penetrate deep into the skin and can cause cellular changes that may lead to cancer. UVB rays have a shorter reach and cause red, painful sunburn. Buy a broad-spectrum sunscreen formula, which is effective against both UVA and UVB exposure.
Unfortunately, even faithful sunscreen use can’t completely guard against sun damage. If you have concerns about the sun’s visible effects on your skin, get in touch with William Franckle, MD, FACS, a South Jersey cosmetic surgeon. Dr. Franckle also offers noninvasive procedures that can reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. Call the office at (856) 772-6500 or request a consultation to learn more about fillers like Juvederm and Restylane.