Everything You Need to Know about Sunscreen (and the Best Drugstore Sunscreens to Buy)

Everything You Need to Know about Sunscreen (and the Best Drugstore Sunscreens to Buy)



Image: USAG-Humphreys via Flickr

The goal of sunscreen is to stop harmful rays from reaching and damaging your skin. There are a few things the FDA recommends you look for in your sunscreen.

  • Look for a sunscreen labeled "broad spectrum." This means it protects against both UVA and UVB rays. According to Skincancer.org, "Ultraviolet A (UVA) is the longer wave UV ray that causes lasting skin damage, skin aging, and can cause skin cancer. Ultraviolet B (UVB) is the shorter wave UV ray that causes sunburns, skin damage, and can cause skin cancer."
  • Look for a sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 15 but no more than 50.
  • Buy a sunscreen labeled as "water resistant." Water resistant sunscreens are listed as protective for either 40 minutes or 80 minutes.
  • Anything you put on your skin also enters your body; therefore, be aware that there are chemicals you want to avoid. Environmental Working Group, says to avoid sunscreens with oxybenzone or retinyl palmitate. This is easier said than done. 56% of sunscreens on the market contain oxybenzone. The American Academy of Dermatology deems oxybenzone safe, and the FDA approved the use of this chemical in 1978. Make your own decision based on how you feel about these ingredients.

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