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How to Choose and to Use the Right Sunscreen

Updated: May 13, 2022

Now that summer is in full swing, many of us will be outside soaking up the sun’s rays. This time of year, it is important to make sure our skin is protected, as sun damage is a well-known contributor to skin cancer development.

There are many different sunscreen brands, but they are not all made the same, there are some important things to keep in mind while choosing a sunscreen.

Many sunscreens are made with chemical filters such oxybenzone, octinoxate, homosalate, octisalate, and octocrylene. Many of these chemicals are potential hormone disrupters, meaning they interfere with several hormones and hormonal processes in the body.

The better option, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and the FDA, are mineral sunscreens which use the minerals zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to protect against the UVA rays.

The FDA also suggests that the chemical sunscreens with avobenzone and Mexoryl SX are shown to have strong UVA protection with little harm associated.

An important factor to keep in mind when choosing a sunscreen is to generally go with a sunscreen of 50 SPF or lower. Many people think that when they use a higher SPF sunscreen, they can apply it less often, which is not true, and this will lead to increased risks of skin cancer. Additionally, high SPF products may use more chemicals than lower SPF sunscreens do, thus we will be absorbing more of these chemicals into the skin than with lower SPF sunscreens.

Another thing to consider, is people don’t apply sunscreen often enough. According to the skin cancer foundation, sunscreen should be applied 30 minutes before sun exposure and every 2 hours thereafter. A sufficient amount of sunscreen is 1oz, which is the size of a shot glass, and many people generally apply less than this.

So be sure to think about some of these things the next time you are using sunscreen!

Check out the Environmental Working Groups guide and research to safe sunscreens and follow the link below to see which brands are the best!



Dr. Samantha Allen, ND


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