However, even if you have never used sunscreen in the past, it is never too late to start and prevent more damage and possibly improve the effects of past damage.
There are many brands and types of sunscreens on the market so how are we to know which one is for us? There are some considerations in choosing a sunscreen.
Let's look at a few considerations and try to make sense of all the choices:
Sunscreens come in many forms. Choose the one that you like best because you will be more inclined to use it regularly:
Sunscreens have expiration dates and they are important!
If a sunscreen product does not have an expiration date, then you must consider it expired after three years according the FDA.
If a sunscreen has an expiration date then discard it after that date. It means that it may not protect you from the sun or it may even be harmful to you. Toss it after the expiration date, don't take chances.
Sun screen must be used year round. A cloudy or snowy day does not prevent sun damage. A sunscreen must work well in all types of weather.
Sunscreen for face is different than sunscreen for body. While a spray may work for your body, you should use a moisturizing lotion or cream for your face, neck and chest.
Chemicals vs natural vs a combination of ingredients? That depends. If you have sensitive skin then a natural product may be necessary. Usually with a natural product you have to apply it more often and replace more often as it usually doesn't have a long shelf life.
Chemicals can be harsh to our skin and sometimes even dangerous. A combination could be the best solution for most people.
To Avoid: (These are approved by the FDA and American Academy of Dermatology.)
Retinyl palmitate - a derivitive of Vitamin A, Retin-A is good for wrinkles and some sunscreens add this to boost anti-aging, however, Retin-A and sun exposure do not go well together. Not only does the sun reduce the effectiveness of Retin-A, many dermatologists believe that the combination of Retin-A and sun boosts your chances of getting skin cancer. So just avoid this in your sunscreen. Use Retin-A (or Retinyl palmitate) at night on a clean face, just to be safe.
Questionable, but no reason to panic:
- Oxybenzone - a common UV filter has been shown to interact with hormones in animals that were fed this ingredient in large amounts. However, dermatologists say this is not a good reason to toss your sunscreen.
- Nanoparticles - such as Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide provide broad-spectrum protection in "mineral sunscreens." People who find chemical sunscreens irritating may find these mineral forms a better choice. However, there is a wide spread debate as to their safety. Many places have banned nanoparticless because they are showing up in the liver and in the bloodstream. The FDA considers them safe. You choose.
- Waterproof, Sweatproof, Sunblock: The FDA has ordered sunscreen labels to stop using those terms. You'll may still see "water-resistant" or "sweat-resistant" and just "sunscreen" rather than "sunblock." Labels will also have to tell you if the product is water- or sweat-resistant for 40 minutes or 80 minutes. After that length of time, you'll have to reapply.
- Spray Sunscreens - The FDA is looking at the safety of spray sunscreens. First considering the coverage. It is recommended to spray and then rub into skin and spray again, as spraying alone may not cover every area completely. Secondly, never to spray on face and never inhale the spray. It is not known, yet, if this results in health issues. Just don't do it until further studies can be done.
What to choose:
- SPF: Sun Protection Factor - The higher the number the more protection. For example, SPF 15, means it would take your skin 15 times longer to get red than if you were wearing no protection at all. So if your unprotected skin begins to redden after 10 minutes in the sun, then with a generous coat of SPF 15, it would take 150 minutes for your skin to begin to turn red. We may soon not see labels that promise protection over 50 because the FDA doesn't believe that a product can provide such high levels of sun protection. With that, there's no need to go higher than SPF 50. You must also reapply every two hours if you expect solid protection no matter what the SPF number is.
- Broad-Spectrum Protection: Beginning in 2012, that phrase was reserved for products offering UVA and UVB protection. Not all sunscreens have broad-spectrum protection. We need to wear sunscreen everyday in any type of weather but also indoors or outdoors. UVA rays can come through windows and clouds. They are responsible for skin damage including wrinkles and skin cancer.
- It is best to avoid the sun between 10:00 am and 2:00 pm. This is when the sun's rays are the strongest.
- Wear hats, shirts, shorts, etc., to provide even more protection from the sun's rays. This does not take the place of wearing sunscreen but rather to be included.
The following list of ingredients have been determined to be safe by the FDA. They are considered good sunscreens. However, they are studying many of them further to see the effects on our health when absorbed through the skin. So be careful and choose sunscreens with a limited number of ingredients and chemicals:
Phenylbenzimidazole sulfonic acid
Sunscreen should not be used on infants less than six months old. Keep them out of the sun or completely covered up. Everyone of 6 months old till we die needs to wear sunscreen. Not only does it protect us from skin cancer, it also helps it to retain it's youthfulness. It's never too late to start using it and reaping the important benefits!
Do you use a sunscreen everyday, even if you are not going outside? Do you prefer lotions, sprays, oils, etc.,? Do you have a sunscreen that you really like and is safe that you would like to share with the rest of us?