There are many different types of sunscreen available on the market. When you go to the drugstore, it can be very confusing and intimidating when it comes to choosing the right sunscreen for you. They have dozens of different sunscreens available, from creams to sprays to powders.
Not all sunscreens are made equal, so understanding what to look for in a sunscreen will help you to make the right choice.
First, its important to understand what a sunscreen does. A sunscreen, depending on whether it is a chemical sunscreen or mineral sunscreen, will either absorb the UV or reflects the UV. This reduces the amount of UV exposure the skin is susceptible to by creating a barrier of protection.
The first thing to look for when choosing a sunscreen is whether or not it is a broad-spectrum UVA and UVB protective sunscreen. Some sunscreens will only protect against UVB, but its also particularly important to block UVA, which causes aging of the skin. Sunscreens with UVA protection will have a special logo on them.
For most people, deciding what level of SPF to wear is the most confusing part to buying a sunscreen. Health Canada recommends wearing a minimum of SPF 30 daily. Sun Protective Factor is determined by how long it will take the skin to burn in the sun compared to how long it will take with an adequate amount of sunscreen on. However, this does not mean you can spend an extra 30 minutes in the sun if you wear an SPF 30.
Physical UV filters (minerals) work by reflecting the UV light from the skin. The best physical UV ingredients to look for are Titanium Dioxide and Zinc oxide. Heath Canada classifies these ingredients as natural so the sunscreen bottle will have an 8-digit NPN on it (natural product number).
Chemical UV filters work by absorbing UV radiation and converting it into a low amount of heat. Some of the chemical filters to look for in a sunscreen are avobenzone, octisalate, oxybenzone and octinoxate. These ingredients are classified by Health Canada as drug ingredients so the sunscreen bottle will have an 8-digit DIN number on it (drug identification number).
The Sun Protection Program (SPP) recognizes sunscreen products that meet a standard that provides effective sun protection. Only approved sunscreens by the Canadian Dermatology Association can display this logo.
Many sunscreens are available with both chemical and physical filters in them. Determining what texture of sunscreen, SPF level and type of filters you want in a sunscreen will help you to choose the right sunscreen for you.
Several other factors can affect the protection of sunscreen including how active you are, how strong the sun’s UV rays are, your skin type, if you are on medications that may increase your risk of sun damage, and most importantly, how much and how often sunscreen is applied.
Some people with sensitive or reactive skin may have issues when using a chemical sunscreen including redness and itching. It is recommended for people with sensitive/reactive skin to use a mineral based sunscreen as the skin is less likely to react to mineral ingredients. It is also important for people with sensitive/reactive skin to look for a sunscreen without added fragrance or preservatives, as these can be irritants for the skin.
Now that you have chosen the sunscreen that is right for you, learning how to apply it properly is the next step. Most people do not put on enough sunscreen to reach the SPF level indicated on the sunscreen. Sunscreen needs to be applied generously to all areas of exposed skin. Don’t forget your ears backs of your hands and scalp!
Health Canada recommends that an adult apply 7 teaspoons of sunscreen to the body when applying.
1 teaspoon for each arm
1 teaspoon for each leg
1 teaspoon for your front
1 teaspoon for your back
1 teaspoon for your face and neck
Make sure you are applying your sunscreen properly to
ensure the highest level of sun protection
The You Missed a Spot initiative aims to equip individuals with education and proactive protocols to help stay sun safe throughout the summer and beyond. Held in two major Canadian cities during May is Melanoma Month, participants had a UV image taken of their skin to demonstrate the way the sun’s ultraviolet rays have impacted them and juxtapose it against the powerful protection that sunscreen provides. Melanoma survivors and physicians were on-site communicating the importance of sun safety and self detection. For more information on sunscreen, tanning beds and sun safety visit : https://www.melanomanetwork.ca/sunsaf...