We all know that it’s important to protect our skin from the harmful effects of the sun’s ultraviolet rays, but when faced with the large selection of sunscreens, how do you choose? Here are some tips that will help you make an informed decision!
Types of filter
Sunscreens can contain a “chemical” or “physical” filter.
Chemical filters (e.g. Meroxyl) are molecules that can absorb and transform the sun’s UV rays, preventing them from harming our skin. Sunscreens usually contain several chemical filters in order to protect against both UVA and UVB rays.
Physical filters (zinc oxide, titanium dioxide) are mineral molecules that form a protective barrier on our skin. When UVA and UVB rays reach this barrier, they are reflected and dispersed before they can enter the skin.
Sun protection factor (SPF)
The Canadian Dermatology Association recommends that all Canadians use a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, starting at the age of 6 months. The SPF number indicates the degree of protection against UVB rays.
As the SPF number increases, so does the amount of protection provided. However, the absolute difference is minimal. For example, a sunscreen with an SPF of 50 blocks 98 percent of UVB rays, whereas an SPF of 60 blocks 98.3 percent. No products can block UVBs completely, not even SPF 100 sunscreens.
Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen because it guarantees that you are also protected against UVA rays. UVAs cause premature aging of the skin (wrinkles, pigment spots) and contribute to the development of certain types of skin cancer.
If you like to swim or if you take part in activities where you sweat a lot, it’s a good idea to use a water-resistant product. The label usually indicates how long the protection lasts. Once that time has elapsed, you must reapply the product.
Proper application above all
Even the most powerful product won’t protect you if you don’t apply it correctly. It’s important to apply the sunscreen generously over any exposed area of the skin, and to reapply the product regularly, especially after any activity that may have removed some of the sunscreen from the skin (swimming, sweating due to heat or exercise). For most adults, it takes about 30 to 45 ml (enough to fill a whole palm) to cover the whole body.
Questions on sunscreens? Consult your pharmacist!