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The sun gives us light, heat, and energy. It also causes nasty red burns on your skin that might cause skin cancer later in life. To stop them from developing, most people use one form or another of sunscreen. But with so many options on the shelf at the local convenience store, how do you pick the right one?
Here’s the breakdown on what you need to look for to find the right susncreen for your skin:
Two Ways to Combat UV Rays
Sunscreen is created to block or deflect ultraviolet (UV) radiation that the sun produces. UV rays react with skin cells in negative ways. Scientists have developed two ways to stop these UV rays from reaching your skin:
- Organic sunscreen: Called organic because it contains carbon (not because it is grown without pesticides). This type of sunscreen acts as a sponge of protection around your skin, absorbing harmful UV rays so that your skin doesn’t get burned.
- Inorganic sunscreen (also known as mineral sunscreen): Contains titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, or both. These minerals allow the sunscreen to reflect the rays of the sun before they reach your skin, acting like a shield by deflecting the rays.
Which is better?
Either type of sunscreen helps protect the skin from UV rays, but inorganic sunscreen just might be the better option because when organic sunscreen absorbs UV rays, it can become unstable. Certain ingredients found in organic sunscreen, like oxybenzonee and octocrylene, disperse the extra energy from UV light in ways that can lead to the creation of harmful free radicals (the very thing you are trying to prevent when putting sunscreen on).
SPF: The Key is to Reapply
A conversation about sunscreen can’t be complete without discussing SPF. SPF stands for the sun protection factor. According to dermatologist Dr. Katy Burris, “SPF is an indication of how long it will take you to develop a sunburn.” Burris explains that time-wise you can generally multiply the SPF number by 10 minutes. This is how long you can go before reapplying.
For most people, SPF 15 is a good amount if you just remember to reapply after 150 minutes. However, some people with certain skin issues might want a higher SPF. SPF is sometimes arbitrary, too. A number of SPF 50 sunscreens protect against 98 percent of UV rays while SPF 30 protects against 97 percent. The key to SPF is to reapply often before your skin begins to redden.
Sunscreen Can Be Water-Resistant—But Never Waterproof
It’s good to buy a water-resistant sunscreen. This will provide some protection when you’re in the water, but the best protection is to reapply sunscreen frequently. WebMD recommends that every water-resistant sunscreens should be reapplied after 40 minutes of swimming.
So how do you pick a good sunscreen? Do you choose one with a high SPF or a low SPF? Inorganic or organic? Water-resistant or regular? At the end of the day, the best sunscreen will be the one that you will put on and reapply. Pick a sunscreen that is comfortable, has a decent SPF, and is water-resistant. The most important thing is to remember to reapply your sunscreen after being out in the sun for a few hours.
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Check out LifeVantage’s TrueScience skin care system!