What differentiates a Good Sunscreen from a Bad One?

Young blonde woman lying in the sun

Experts warn that a high SPF doesn’t mean the sunscreen is effective.

Dermatologists at the Stanford Cancer Institute explained what people should be looking for when choosing a sunscreen and what differentiates a good sunscreen from a bad one.

People often complain that sunscreen products with high SPF fail to provide the promised protection. Earlier this week, a three year old boy got two degrees burns on his face even though his mother diligently applied a high SPF sunscreen.

A recent report shows that over 40 percent of sunscreens on the market provide a lower level of protection than advertised.

Stanford researchers recommend selecting a product with a high SPF factor but also looking for other elements as well. SPF only shields the skin against damaging UV-B rays which can lead to skin lesions, sunburns, and skin cancer.

But UV-A rays are just as bad so make sure that your sunscreen has the “broad spectrum protection” phrase on its label. Ultraviolet A rays can also cause a great deal of photo damage, skin cancer, and premature aging.

In fact UV-A rays are more dangerous as they can damage the skin’s deepest layers without even causing a sunburn. UV-A radiation exposure is also tied to wrinkling and sagging of the skin in young people.

Also, be wary that UV-A and UV-B rays penetrate through window glass and side door windows of your car too, researchers warn.

Consumer Reports investigators found that 43 percent of sunblock products with a SPF higher than 60 fail to provide the advertised protection. And it isn’t because manufacturers resort to blatant lies to sell their products. It is often because customers don’t apply enough sunscreen on their skin.

Experts recommend between 2 and 3 tbs of sunscreen for an adult’s body and one teaspoon for the face. If you use sprays ensure that you apply them evenly. Also don’t spray the protective solution directly to your face. Additionally, it is safer to opt for a SPF 50 or higher and use cream and lotions instead of spray.

If you feel that you are about to get sun burned you can reapply the sunscreen.

Stanford researchers noted that Europe and Australia have far more effective sunscreen products than the U.S. when it comes to the protection against UV-A rays. They recommend the use of Tinosorb S and Tinosorb M brands.

The U.S. lags behind the two continents because the FDA has failed to incorporate more UV filters in domestic products.

Image Source: Wikimedia

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