Which sunscreen is best?

As many of you prepare to head to the beach this summer, you may be wondering what sunscreen is best for your skin and the rest of your family’s personal needs.

Experts say choosing the right sunscreen is critically important as part of a good defense against the sun’s harmful rays.

The earlier you start being aggressive about protecting yourself from the sun — the less likely you are to develop sun spots or skin cancers.

But what should you look for when purchasing sunscreen?

  • The FDA recommends a sunscreen with a minimum of 15 sun protection factor (spf), although other agencies suggest higher spfs.  The American Academy of Dermatology urges people to not use anything lower than an SPF 30.
  • Sunscreen should also be labeled “Broad Spectrum,” which means the sunscreen is not only good for UVB rays that burn you, but also UVA rays that rapidly age your skin.
  • Rather than using the term “Waterproof,” the Food and Drug Administration is requiring sunscreens to be labeled “Water resistant” because no sunscreen is truly waterproof.  Even with water resistant sunscreen, experts suggest you reapply every 40 or 80 minutes if sweating or swimming.
  • You can often find more detailed information on the back of sunscreen bottles as the FDA has asked manufacturers to begin labeling products with information about skin cancer and aging.
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