The Simple Guide to Buying Sunscreen

Find out what you need to look for when buying a sunscreen.

The Simple Guide to Buying Sunscreen

Spring and summer bring more time in the sun, but all that sun exposure can also be dangerous to your health. Too much sun can damage your skin and lead to premature skin aging. Over time, the UV rays present in the sunlight can damage skin cells and lead to deadly cancers like melanoma. Protecting your skin with sunscreen is a must. But which one should you buy? Find out how to decide.

SPF Level

SPF stands for "sun protection factor," which indicates how long you should be able to stay in the sun and how much UV radiation is filtered out. So the higher the better, right? Up to a point. Unfortunately, protection comes down to more factors than just SPF. Protection increases up to an SPF of about 50. After 50, the gains are marginal and mostly nixed by sweating, rubbing or being in the water. An SPF of 30 to 50 should be fine as long as you reapply at least every two hours.

Will you ever feel comfortable in your own skin? That is, if you don't make an effort to protect it? Although 64% of adults do report wearing sunscreen when outside for prolonged periods of time, it turns out that only about 10% of people surveyed actually protect themselves daily, according to a recent review.

No matter what your skin tone is, unless you live in a cave with no sunlight, daily protection with either sunscreen, sunblock or protective clothing can not only protect you from developing sunburns (ouch!) but can significantly reduce your risk of developing skin cancer, particularly the deadliest type called melanoma. In addition, for those of you wanting to keep your youthful looks, daily sunscreen has been shown to reduce the development of wrinkles. A great teacher once told me that the best way to not have wrinkles is not to get them in the first place (think of how much money you can save on useless creams that claim to diminish wrinkles).

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