For starters, the kind of sunscreen you use may depend on the type of outdoor exposure you are expecting. For incidental sun exposure when you are outside only for minutes at a time, a sun protection factor (SPF) 15, which filters out about 93% of UV radiation, is usually sufficient. Your sunscreen should have broad spectrum protection, meaning it effectively protects against significant portion of both the UVA and UVB ranges of the light spectrum. Most broad spectrum formulas contain multiple sunscreen ingredients. For extended, intense exposure, you should use a broad spectrum, water resistant sunscreen with an SPF 30 or higher.
1. For Children’s Skin:
Chemicals can irritate children’s sensitive skin. The physical sunscreen zinc oxide and titanium dioxide tend to be better tolerated by people with sensitive skin and can usually be found in the sunscreen for babies and children. Also, since getting children to use sunscreen is half the battle, try spray sunscreen or tubes with colorful packaging, which children may find more enjoyable to use.
2. For allergy, acne and rosacea prone skin:
Patients with allergy-prone skin or conditions such as acne or rosacea should avoid products containing preservatives or fragrances, as well as those containing PABA or oxybenzone. Allergy prone and rosacea patients should also avoid sunscreens containing alcohol. Patients with acne, however, may find gel formulas, which usually contain alcohol, more drying and less likely to aggravate acne. Acne-prone patients should avoid greasy sunscreen. However, people on topical acne medications, which tend to be drying may get too irritating on their sensitized skin and may benefit from a light lotion or cream base. Since some acne medications increase sun sensitivity, making wearers more vulnerable to burning and skin damage, rigorous daily sun protection is especially important.
3. For Dry Skin:
Dry skin can benefit from moisturizing sunscreens. Numerous moisturizers are used in sunscreens; popular ones include lanolin, oils and silicones such as dimenthicone. Moisturizing sunscreen is often formulated as creams, lotions or ointments, so look for these terms on the label.
4. For people with Melasma:
For melasma patient, sunscreen with SPF 30 is recommended daily for extra protection. Since most people do not actually apply enough sunscreen to achieve the SPF listed on the container, frequent reapplication is especially important.
5. For Darker Skin Tones:
Individuals with darker skin who can easily and rarely burn may feel they do not need to use sunscreen. However, like sunburn, a tan is the result of DNA damage from exposure to the sun’s harmful UV radiation. Darker skinned people may also be using physical sunscreen; especially titanium based products, because they can look chalky and white on the skin.
6. For the older person: Although older individuals may have already received large amounts of UV light exposure in their lifetime, they can still benefit from sunscreen use. At any age, unprotected sun exposure increases the risk of developing new skin cancers and precancers. It also accelerates skin aging, leading to age spots, wrinkles, sagging and leathery skin. Older people with decreased mobility may have a hard time applying sunscreen to areas such as the legs and back by themselves.
In conclusion, sunscreen is an important part of a sun protection regimen that should also include seeking the shade, avoiding UV tanning and wearing protective clothing, including a broad brimmed hat and UV blocking sunglasses. By educating yourself about your many sunscreen options, you can be confident that the product you choose will fit your particular needs, offering you the best protection from the sun’s harmful rays and helping to ensure that you use it regularly. After all, the sunscreen you apply consistently is the best sunscreen of all.