Sunscreen is not only important for preventing skin cancer, it also protects your skin from degenerative damage that can age your appearance. However, like many other skin care products, sunscreen can leave you with a lot of questions. For example, which sunscreen is best for your skin type? Scheduling a consultation with Dr. Kay at Perfection Plastic Surgery is the best way to create a sun protection and skin rejuvenation plan that’s tailored to your needs. Still, you can learn some essential sunscreen facts by reading on.

Why is sunscreen important?

Even on cloudy days, UV radiation from the sun is hitting your skin. In the short-term, UV damage can cause uncomfortable sunburns. In the long-term, UV damage can cause early signs of aging as well as several types of skin cancer, including melanomas and squamous cell carcinomas. While sunscreen alone won’t mitigate all UV damage, it does provide a first line of protection for your skin. It’s also one of the best investments you can make in anti-aging skincare. Especially in Tucson, sun related skin damage can have you seeking treatments like Botox, non-surgical skin tightening, and laser skin rejuvenation at a much younger age than you might expect.

How often should you apply sunscreen?

Many of us are guilty of only applying sunscreen before outdoor recreation. However, wearing sunscreen should be part of your daily skincare routine. Ideally, you should apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going outdoors. Then, reapply every 2 hours. In addition to applying sunscreen often, you’ll want to make sure you apply enough of it. Most people do not use enough sunscreen to cover their whole bodies. It takes about one ounce of sunscreen for the average adult to get sufficient coverage for sun protection.

What SPF is best for adequate sun protection?

SPF, or sun protection factor, is often misunderstood. It’s a common misconception that higher SPF means better sun protection. While that is true under ideal conditions, higher SPF in the real world often leads to a false sense of security about personal sun protection. For example, someone wearing SPF 50 sunscreen may feel more comfortable waiting longer to reapply while outside. While SPF 50 does block more of the sun’s UV rays, it’s also still susceptible to sweat, moisture, and other types of interference. The Skin Cancer Foundation has a baseline recommendation of SPF 15 for daily use. SPF 30 or higher is recommended for prolonged outdoor activities.

What type of sunscreen do you need?

There are a lot of choices when it comes to sunscreen. From numerous options on the drug store shelf to higher end medical grade sunscreens sold in our office, it can be easy to become overwhelmed. Dr. Kay would agree with The Skin Cancer Foundation’s recommendation that the best sunscreen for you is one that you’re likely to use often. But how do you even know which to try first?

A good place to start is with the ingredients. Sunscreens either work with physical ingredients that block and scatter UV rays or with chemical ingredients that absorb the sun’s rays before your skin does. Physical sunscreens usually contain zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. Alternatively, chemical sunscreens have ingredients such as avobenzone and octisalate. Many even combine ingredients for an added protective layer. Both are also considered safe and effective on their own. However, some people with sensitive skin may prefer to use only physical sunscreen. You may also select a different sunscreen for your body than you use for your face. Just like any other skincare product, sunscreens made for your body may prove too thick and greasy for facial application. In general, any sunscreen you select should meet the following criteria:

  • Broad Spectrum Protection – Offers protection against both UVA and UVB rays.
  • SPF 15 for Everyday Use – Choose SPF 30 or higher for prolonged outdoor exposure.
  • Water Resistance – Look for water and sweat resistant sunscreens for swimming or intense outdoor exercise.

Does sunscreen stop you from tanning?

Another prevalent sunscreen myth is that it prevents tanning. However, sunscreen does not block melanin production. So, you’ll still enjoy a beautiful glow if you sunbathe after applying sunscreen.

While sunscreen can go a long way in preventing sun damage, it can’t turn back the clock on your skin. To erase existing sun damage and rejuvenate your skin, call Perfection Plastic Surgery and Skin Care at (520) 323-7100 and schedule your non-surgical skin care consultation. You can also shop our online store for sun protection—enjoy 20% off all sunscreens through May.