Slathering on extra sunscreen is considered the sure shot technique to protect your skin in the summer. But what kind of sunscreen lotion is the best? And is it safe? An expert from the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) answers some burning questions. “The best type of sunscreen is the one you will use again and again,” said Dr Henry W Lim, chairman of the department of dermatology at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Michigan. “Just be sure to choose one that offers broad-spectrum protection, has an SPF of 30 or greater, and is water resistant.” Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions.
Are high SPF sunscreens better?
Dermatologists recommend using a sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 30, which blocks 97 per cent of the sun’s rays. But Lim warns that no sunscreen can promise to block 100 per cent of the rays. So be sure to reapply the sunscreen every two hours when you’re outside, and after swimming and sweating.
What sunscreens are best for infants and children?
Ideally, babies under six months should not spend time directly in the sun. Since their skin is a lot more sensitive, sunscreens should be avoided if possible. Keep your little one in the shade and dress them in long sleeves, sunglasses and wide-brimmed hats. For older children, opt for sunscreens containing zinc oxide or titanium dioxide since they do not penetrate the skin and are less likely to cause irritation.
Are sunscreens safe?
Dermatologists say that preventing skin cancer and sunburn far outweigh any unproven concerns for toxicity or human health hazards from sunscreen ingredients. Yet, the AAD recommends that in addition to applying sunscreen, staying in the shade and wearing protective clothing and sunglasses are all important factors to reduce the risk of skin cancer.
What type of sunscreen should one use?
Creams are best for dry skin and the face, while gels are good for hairy areas, such as the scalp or male chest, says Lim. Sticks are good to use around the eyes.
How much sunscreen do I need?
For adults, a convenient guideline is to apply one teaspoon of sunscreen to your face and scalp and to each arm, and two teaspoons to your torso and to each leg,” says Lim. Don’t forget your hands and feet.