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Reading Your Sunscreen Label: 5 Things What To Look For When Buying Sunscreen

Finding the right sunscreen for your skin can be an overwhelming process. Making the right choice is difficult when there are so many products and preparations on the market. Sanova Dermatology would like to share some information that can help make your sunscreen selection a bit easier. Here are some tips on what to look for to select the best sunscreen for you.

Broad Spectrum

This may be the most important thing that your sunscreen bottle can tell you. “Broad Spectrum means that it protects your skin from both UVA and UVB rays. This board coverage will therefore protect your skin from the rays that age, dry, an burn you, as well as predispose you to developing skin cancer,” says Dr. Adam Mamelak, a board certified Dermatologist in Austin, Texas.

Many sunscreens do not offer this wide range of protection, leaving application of the products nearly useless. There are many terms that are coined by different companies that do not necessarily offer the same broad protection, so you should be sure to check for the “Broad Spectrum” labeling to ensure coverage.


Something that may seem common knowledge is still important to take into consideration when making your selection of sunscreen. “A sunscreen of SPF 30 is a good ‘go to’, as anything higher has not shown to offer a significant increase in protection from the sun if applying correctly,” notes Dr. Mamelak. “In fact, with the new FDA regulations it will be hard to find a sunscreen with an SPF over 50!”

Think Zinc

Zinc oxide is one of the best ingredients for guarding your skin from the sun.  Zinc oxide is a physical sunscreen. This means the product sits on the surface of your skin and offers a protective layer that deflects the sun’s detrimental rays. This stops the sun from getting to and damaging the skin. These sunscreens allow you to enjoy the outdoors without getting a sunburn, not to mention decreasing the risk for developing skin cancer.

Water Resistant

The fact is, there is no such thing as ‘Water Proof Sunscreen’. “I you swim or sweat enough in the summer, you will definitely wash it off,” claims Dr. Mamelak.  “At most, a sunscreen can be considered Water Resistant.” Keeping this in mind, it is good to use this style of sunscreen when you anticipate being in water or sweating while needing the sun coverage. “Water resistant sunscreens are great for a day at the pool or when going out for a run,” says Dr. Mamelak. “This can help ensure that you are going to get consistent protection, although remember, reapplying after 40 or 80 minutes is key.”

Skin Sensitivity

Look for sunscreens that have major ingredients like Titanum Dioxide and Zinc Oxide if you have sensitive skin or skin prone to breakouts. These ingredients are less harsh on the skin and still offer the protection that you need. Many of the ingredients found in chemical sunscreens (dioxybenzone, oxybenzone, para-aminobenzoic acid, or sulisobenzone) can cause skin irritation in some individuals.

There are plenty of ingredients that are in sunscreen, and we are always learning more and more information that adds to the current knowledge of what these ingredients offer our skin. Stay up to date with the most current information to keep your skin safe and happy!

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If you have questions about the ingredients in your sunscreen, please contact us today. We love sharing information about ways to keep your skin safe and happy.

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