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Sunscreen Ingredients and Facts for Year-Round Skin Protection

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Sunscreen Ingredients and Facts for Year-Round Skin Protection

The hot weather has arrived and summer is about to begin. Are you covered when it comes to skin care against the sun?

In honor of National Skin Cancer/Melanoma Awareness month, learn the scoop on skin care and skin cancer prevention during the summer months.

New Rules
First things first, it’s important to know that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released plans for new sunscreen labeling regulations in 2011 that went into place in 2013. Here are the four regulations:

  1. Sunscreen products that are broad spectrum, meaning they have a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher, may be labeled that they reduce risk of skin cancer and premature skin aging. On the contrary, products that are labeled with an SPF lower than 15 will be required to carry a warning that they have not been shown to reduce the above risks.

  2. Sunscreen products may no longer claim to be above 50 SPF. The highest category will be 50+. The result of this regulation is due to the fact that there is not significant data to show that products with an SPF higher than 50 provide more protection.

  3. Sunscreen products may no longer be labeled as “waterproof” or “sweat proof” and instead may only be labeled as “water resistant.” Also, labels must state how long the protection lasts.

  4. You will begin to only see the word “sunscreen.” Products may no longer be labeled as “sun block” because there is no proof that they block all radiation in sunlight.

These regulations have been set for two main reasons: to better regulate sunscreen companies and to help the public understand what sunscreen labeling means. With the new regulations soon taking place, it’s important to know everything you can about sunscreen and proper use.

No matter what the weather forecast is, sunscreen should be applied to your face and neck every day, rain or shine. The short increments of time during each day that you are exposed to the sun—in your car, walking to a building, etc.—add up and cause cumulative sun damage which will gradually reveal the signs of photoaging (wrinkles and sun spots) and increase your risk for facial skin cancers. Our best advice is: apply sunscreen liberally. Studies show that the majority of people never apply enough sunscreen to achieve the actual SPF on the label and thus are really only protecting their skin with  half or less of that SPF number on the bottle.  

It goes without saying that when one is on a sunny vacation, it’s important to always apply sunscreen. Typically, adults should apply at least one ounce, approximately a shot glass amount of sunscreen, to cover their entire body. You should generously coat your skin and then a few minutes after the first application has absorbed, apply another coat to ensure that you have adequately covered all areas of your skin. It’s important to reapply a generous coat every one to two hours.  

What Works Best
People use it all: sticks, sprays, creams and lotions. Use a cream or lotion for the initial full-body application. If you need to use a stick or spray for reapplication convenience that is ok, but make sure to use more of these products and to rub it into your skin.

What’s the difference between these ultraviolet (UV) rays? Put simply, UVA rays (account for up to 95 percent of the UV radiation reaching the earth’s surface) penetrate through glass and into the deepest layer of our skin causing wrinkles and skin cancer. UVB rays penetrate the top layers of our skin causing sun burns, a damaging effect over time. Make sure you use a product that protects against both.

Recommended Products
Some favorite sunscreen brands include Neutrogena® which contains Helioplex®, a chemical that helps provide better and longer protection from harmful UVA Rays. Also, La Roche-Posay™ Anthelios, a product that contains Mexoryl SX or XL, is a very effective UVA blocker and a great addition to your sunscreen collection. Last, the Elta MD sunscreen line is a favorite among dermatologists. 

Always remember to apply sunscreen on a daily basis. Enjoy the hot, summer months with sunscreen in mind and keep your skin as healthy as possible!

For more information about Cooper Clinic Dermatology or to schedule a skin cancer screening with a board-certified dermatologist, click here or call 972.367.6000.