• Ronnie Shalev, MD

Summer Safety: Which Sunscreen Should I Use?

With summer time activities in full gear, you should be stocking up on the most important thing...sunscreen. Although sunscreen should be used year round, people tend to think about it more in the summer.

Benefits of Sunscreen

  • Prevents Sunburn

  • Decreases Signs of Early Skin Aging

  • Reduces Your Risk of Developing Skin Cancer

Drug stores offer a variety of sunscreen brands, but the brand you choose has no bearing to its effectiveness. Usually the price differential is related to marketing tactics.

Generic sunscreen will work too. The ingredients in sunscreen matter more than the brand.

It is important to pay attention to physical and chemical ingredients.

Physical ingredients such as titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide work like a shield deflecting the sun’s rays from your skin. The FDA has recognized these ingredients as safe and effective.

Chemical ingredients such as avobenzone and oxybenzone, on the other hand, absorb the sun’s rays and chemically convert the UV rays to heat, then release that heat from the skin. These are also recognized by the FDA as safe and effective, even though the FDA is requesting more data for further investigation. As for the FDA banned chemicals, PABA and Tolamine salicylate, you won’t be able to find them in any legally sold sunscreens in the US.

Cream vs Spray? This is mostly the user’s preference. The biggest concern with spray sunscreens is that you don’t know if you’ve applied an adequate amount to the skin. This can be remedied by applying 2 rounds.

Some Recommendations from the American Academy of Dermatology

  1. Use Sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher

  2. Use a product that is broad-spectrum- that protects against both UVA and UVB rays

  3. Choose a sunscreen that is water resistant

  4. Don’t use expired sunscreen- with time, active chemicals break down and become ineffective.

More sun safety tips:

  • Wear sun protective clothing such as hats and, rash guards

  • Choose to be outside when there is less intense sun and seek shade

  • Apply sunscreen even on rainy or cloudy days since UV rays can still penetrate your skin

  • Reapply, Reapply, Reapply!!

-Dr. Ronnie Shalev is a board certified emergency medicine physician and the Chief Medical Officer at MediBookr