Here are some recommendations you can provide to your patients to help select the most effective sunscreen, according to dermatologist Dr. Darrell S. Rigel, courtesy of the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD).
Choose a sunscreen with an SPF 30 or higher. While no sunscreen can filter out all of the sun’s UVB rays, SPF 30 sunscreens block 97% of the sun’s UVB rays.
Look for the words “broad-spectrum” on the sunscreen container. This means the sunscreen will protect against both UVA rays and UVB rays.
Look for the words “water resistant.” No sunscreen is completely waterproof, but water-resistant sunscreens can provide protection for wet or sweaty skin for 40 or 80 minutes, as indicated on the label. Patients should be advised about the importance of reapplying sunscreen every two hours, or after swimming or sweating.
For sensitive skin, choose a sunscreen with the active ingredients zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. People with sensitive skin also should be advised to avoid sunscreens that contain fragrance, oils and para-aminobenzoic acid.
The best type of sunscreen is the one that a person will use, so Dr. Rigel recommends that his patients find a sunscreen that they like and apply it to exposed skin prior to heading outside.
Dr. Rigel is a clinical professor in the Ronald O. Perelman Department of Dermatology at New York University.