Shop Smart For Sunscreens

May 23, 2018

© Kemaltaner | Dreamstime

As we gear up for summer a walk down the aisle of sunscreens can leave your head swimming on which one is the best match for you and your family.  While the Federal government requires sunscreen claims to be “truthful and not misleading," the rule only applies to some terms found on the bottle. “SPF,” “broad-spectrum,” and “water-resistant” are the only terms with rules. SPF, or sun protection factor, is a measure of how well a sunscreen guards against ultraviolet B (UVB) rays, the chief cause of sunburn, and a contributor to skin cancer. However don't fall into the mindset that a SPF 30 is twice as strong as a SPF 15 sunblock. While a SPF 15 blocks 93% of UVB rays, a SPF 30  blocks just 4% more at 97% and SPF 50 blocks 98% of UVB rays (in general, the higher SPF the more protection and longer period of time is protects). Broad-Spectrum means it protects your skin from both ultraviolet A (UVA) and UVB rays. While UVB rays cause sunburns, UVA rays penetrate more deeply into the skin’s layers than UVB; and cause damage that can lead to skin aging and, as with UVB, skin cancer. Water resistant means the sunscreen maintain their SPF levels 40 to 80 minutes of sweating or swimming.  However the moment you jump into a pool or begin to sweat, your sunscreen starts to run off your skin (so re-apply every time you come out of the pool and frequently when sweating). Words that are not regulated are buzz words like "sport," "dermatologist tested," "All natural" and "reef safe" are marketing ploys for your business.  In particular as more people are concerned about sunscreen are damaging coral reefs, the new buzzword of "reef safe" may not actually be safe for reefs. In short, if the ingredient label contain "oxybenzone", it contributes to coral bleaching, a condition that leaves coral vulnerable to infection and prevents it from getting the nutrients it needs to survive. Search for sunscreens with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide appear to be safer for coral reefs than chemical ones, according to the National Park Service. In all cases the best sun protection is to keep your skin out of the sun with shade, long sleeved shirts, pants and broad-brimmed hats. Believe it or not, that may be the best way to protect the coral reefs as you will use less sunscreen and less of it will wash off when you take a dip in the gulf or ocean.

SOURCE: Consumer Reports

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