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How to Choose the Best Sunscreen

Not all sunscreens are created equal, and, according to recent studies, many sunscreens don’t work at all. Learn how to choose the best sunscreen to ensure adequate sun protection for you and your family, as recommended by board-certified dermatologists and dermatologic surgeons.

How to Choose the Best Sunscreen

Arming yourself with the best information, in addition to guidance from a board-certified dermatologist, will empower you to make better choices for yourself and your family. Below are our top three tips for choosing the best sunscreen.

1. Learn How to Read and Understand Sunscreen Labels

The first step to choosing the best sunscreen is to learn how to read sunscreen labels. Here’s what you should look for:

Broad-Spectrum Protection: Protect your skin from sun damage caused by both UVA and UVB rays. This ensures that your skin is guarded against premature aging, cancer-causing sun damage, and sunburns.

Understand Water Resistance: No sunscreen is sweat proof or waterproof, and sunscreen manufacturers aren’t permitted to make such claims. They can, however, label their products as “water resistant.” Note that if they do make this claim, they must declare how long their sunscreen protection will last when exposed to water.  Still, a good rule is to reapply your sunscreen more often if you’re sweating a lot or swimming.

SPF 30+: SPF is “Sun Protection Factor,” declaring the level of protection against UVB rays. This is what keeps you from getting burned. SPF 15 only protects against approximately 93% of UVB rays. While that may seem like high level protection, compare that with SPF 30, which protects against 97% and SPF 50, which protects against 98%. SPF 100 protects against 99%. No sunscreen will completely protect your skin, and sunscreens that have an SPF below 15 are required by FDA regulations to add a warning label, declaring that their product protects against burns but not skin cancer or aging.

2. Choose the Best Sunscreen Ingredients

The active ingredient in your sunscreen matters. Active ingredients fall into two categories: chemical protection or physical block. Physical block ingredients, such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, are generally considered to be more effective.

How effective are they? Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are so powerful that they are used in UV-blocking glasses used for welders and astronauts. Both provide strong protection against both UVA and UVB rays, giving you the best coverage against sun damage.

3. Discuss Your Sunscreen Choices With a Board-Certified Dermatologist

The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) released data showing that many over-the-counter sunscreens did not provide the protection advertised on their labels. A quick Google search will also reveal horror stories of responsible parents who used sunscreen as instructed on the label and still saw severe sunburns on their young children. Some of these children required medical care related to their burns and are at an increased risk for skin cancer later in life.

Instead of trying to figure out which sunscreens provide the protection advertised on their labels, consider seeing a board-certified dermatologist for recommendations. You can further eliminate the guesswork and purchase a dermatologist-approved sunscreen from our Indianapolis dermatology practice. If you are purchasing a sunscreen for your child, be sure to consult with their pediatrician as well, as some ingredients aren’t recommended for infants.

Always double check the ingredients to be sure you use the best sunscreen while avoiding allergens or other ingredients that cause skin reactions for you or your children.

Sunscreen Brands We Recommend at the Laser and Skin Surgery Center of Indiana

As our Indianapolis dermatology practice is a renowned skin cancer screening and treatment center, we take sun protection very seriously. It’s for this reason that we offer high-quality sunscreen brands available for purchase. We carry EltaMD and Colorescience, two of the best sunscreen brands recommended by dermatologists and aestheticians. Both brands contain zinc oxide for physical block protection.

EltaMD comes in clear, white, and pigmented lotions and lotion sprays. Facial sunscreens are noncomedogenic, meaning they won’t clog pores or worsen acne breakouts. EltaMD is a top dermatologist-recommended sunscreen brands used and endorsed by celebrities.

Colorescience is best known for its facial sunscreen powder that doubles as mineral makeup. It comes in a variety of colors and provides more protection that you would expect from a powder sunscreen. It’s also a celebrity-favorite sunscreen that comes highly recommended by many skin care experts, including dermatologists.

Other skin care brands that we carry also include sunscreen, including Jan Marini and Epionce. Depending on your individual skin care needs, we may recommend one of these sunscreen brands to complement your skin care regimen more effectively. Discuss your options with one of our aestheticians.

In addition to sunscreen, we also sell Wallaroo Hats, wide-brimmed hats made from UV-blocking materials for added protection.

Sun Protection, Skin Cancer Prevention, and Dermatology Care in Indianapolis

Preventing sun damage is our main priority. However, we recommend yearly appointments with a board-certified dermatologist to check for suspicious moles or lesions on the skin. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States, but it’s also the most treatable when caught early. Monthly self-checks and yearly checks by your dermatologist ensure early detection and treatment.

Our providers can also evaluate non-cancerous sun damage. Premature aging caused by excessive sun exposure includes uneven skin tone, fine lines, and wrinkles. We offer numerous treatment options to smooth away uneven skin tone and texture caused by sun damage. Discuss your options with our team.

Schedule an appointment at our Indianapolis dermatology practice to ensure healthy, younger-looking skin.