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How Do I Choose the Best Sunscreen Cream?

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  • Written By: B. Miller
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 23 May 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2018
    Conjecture Corporation
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Choosing the best sunscreen cream is important to protect skin against harmful damage from the sun's rays; this can lead to wrinkles, sun spots, or skin cancer, among other issues. There are a few different factors to consider when choosing sunscreen. One of the most important is the sun protection factor, or SPF, which helps to indicate the amount of increased protection provided by the sunscreen cream. In addition, it is a good idea to consider the active ingredients, whether or not the sunscreen offers broad-spectrum UVA/UVB protection, and if it is water-resistant.

The first thing most people look at when choosing a sunscreen is the SPF. For everyday use, such as in a facial lotion, experts typically recommend a cream with at least SPF 15. If you'll actually be spending time outside in the sun, however, an SPF of at least 30 to 45 is recommended. Though there are much higher SPFs available, some going all the way up to 100, these really only offer a small percentage of additional protection. In addition, the higher SPFs can lead some people to think they don't need to apply the sunscreen as often, which isn't true and can lead to sunburns.

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When choosing a sunscreen cream, it is also important to choose one that offers broad-spectrum UVA/UVB protection. These both cause different types of damage to the skin, so it is necessary to protect against both. Certain ingredients may be included to protect against UVA and UVB rays. These include titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, or avobenzone to block UVA rays, as well as homosalate and oxybenzone to block UVB rays. Keep in mind this is not an exhaustive list of potential sunscreen ingredients; searching online will help to identify what ingredients perform which functions, as well as if there are any warnings for certain people, such as young children.

A water-resistant sunscreen cream can offer additional protection if you'll be swimming or exercising outside, but no sunscreen is actually waterproof, so it is still important to reapply often. The general recommendation is every 40 to 80 minutes; the first application should occur approximately 30 minutes before going outside. Even the most effective sunscreen cream will not work if you don't apply enough of it, however, so be sure to apply it liberally to all exposed skin. People of all ages should wear sunscreen, but it is especially important for kids, as their skin is especially sensitive.

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