How to Choose the Best Sunscreen

      July 24, 2010 09:11

      Summer is upon us, and with it come worries about UV protection. But there are several common myths about sunscreens that need to be dispelled so people can find the best product available in the market among the myriad that are tempting customers with large claims about their functions and effectiveness.

      ◆ Are sunscreens with higher SPF numbers more effective?

      SPF numbers simply indicate the durability of the sunscreen. It requires at least 30 minutes of exposure to sun for people with very light skin to burn. For those with normal-colored skin, sunscreens with around SPF20 are enough to avoid erythema. Considering the amount of sunscreen that is going to get rubbed off naturally or is insufficiently applied, SPF 30-40 would be a smarter choice for better protection.

      SPF 1 usually refers to 15 minutes of protection from the sun and SPF 20 to 300 minutes, or five hours. SPF merely means protection from UVB rays, one of the two types of UV rays. As such, it is better to buy products that are marked with either "UVA/UVB protection" or "broad-spectrum protection." Consumers with sensitive skin should be aware that the ingredients that protect them from UV rays also contain compounds that cause skin irritation.

      ◆ Do sunscreens offer absolute safety from UV rays?

      Sunscreens only reduce the impact of UV rays by 50 percent. The European Cosmetics Association even ordered sunscreens to carry warning labels. Another method to thoroughly protect skin during the hours of strongest sunshine, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. is to wear long-sleeved clothing, a hat, and sunglasses with UV coating.

      ◆ Do darker-skinned people also need to wear sunscreen?

      Most people believe sunscreen is something to apply to avoid getting a tan, so darker-skinned do not need to put on sunscreen. But that is wrong. Despite slight difference in skin tone for those with darker skin, people with both dark and light skin are vulnerable to aging of the skin due to sun exposure. Regardless of skin color, sunscreen helps to retain firm and soft skin as UV rays destroy skin fiber, making skin rough and wrinkly.

      ◆ Are expensive sunscreens better?

      Although sunscreen prices vary greatly, the basic ingredients are the same. The prices are usually set according to the technology that has been used to integrate the different ingredients. The quality of sunscreen may differ depending on the different proportions with which the compounds have been blended. Prices also vary in proportion to expenses for advertising and marketing. Therefore, it is useful to think twice before buying the more expensive sunscreen. It is also important to buy sunscreens that match skin type.

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