What Sunscreen is Right for Me?

What sunscreen is right for me? With summer right around the corner, now’s the perfect time to evaluate your sunscreen. Do you have a good one ready? When it comes to sunscreen, you’ve got lots of options. This helpful guide will help you unravel the sunscreen confusion and find a great product to protect your skin this summer and beyond.

Physical or Chemical?

There are two primary types of sunscreen: physical sunscreens and chemical sunscreens. Physical sunscreens (like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide) block or reflect the sun’s rays, while chemical sunscreens (like avobenzone, oxybenzone, or octylcrylene) absorb them. Physical sunscreens start working immediately while chemical sunscreens should be applied about 30 minutes before sun exposure. Both are effective sun protection solutions.

Physical sunscreens tend to be less irritating than chemical sunscreens, but can leave behind a white, visible residue (look for micronized formulations to lessen this effect). If you don’t like your physical sunscreen, opt for a chemical one (or the other way around). The important thing is that you’re wearing a sunscreen.

Let’s take a quick look at a few of the differences between physical and chemical sunscreens.

Physical Sunscreens:

    • Less Irritating to the Skin: Good choice for children and those with sensitive skin.
    • Work Immediately: No need to wait before sun exposure.
    • Block UVA and UVB Rays: Zinc oxide, one of the most popular physical sunscreens, blocks both UVA and UVB rays. Titanium dioxide doesn’t block all UVA rays, but does block some of them.
    • May Leave Residue: Some physical sunscreens leave a white, visible residue when applied and can feel greasy.

Chemical Sunscreens

    • No White Residue: Chemical sunscreens typically go on clear.
    • Light and Comfortable: Chemical sunscreens tend to feel lighter, less greasy on the skin.

SPF: What Do I Need?

SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor and is the amount of additional sun protection you have when using the product properly. The higher the SPF, the more sun protection you’ll have. For daily use, SPF 15 is probably enough (use SPF 30 if you have light skin, a history of skin cancer, or if you burn easily), but you’ll want a higher SPF on days you’ll be in the sun. For a day at the beach or lounging by the pool, choose at least an SPF 30. Look for sunscreens that provide protection from both UVA and UVB rays.

Sunscreen Doesn’t Work if You Don’t Wear Enough

Once you’ve got that great sunscreen, use it and use lots. You won’t get the sun protection you’re expecting if you don’t use enough. You need a dollop about the size of a nickel for just your face, more if you’ll be applying to your whole body. Apply before you head into the sun and then again every 2 hours (more often if you’re wet or sweaty).

For all of your skincare needs, don’t hesitate to call Dr. Seth Matarasso. He can help devise a skincare plan that’s right for you.

Don’t forget your sunscreen this summer!