When it comes to sunscreen, pricier may not always be better. In fact, studies show that many expensive brands are no more effective than their budget-friendly counterparts. The price of sunscreen, like many skincare products, varies depending on a number of factors. These typically include:
If the product is more expensive for the last two reasons, it will probably be a worthwhile investment. However, the active ingredients found in most sunscreens are very similar. Many times consumers end up paying a higher bill to fund fancy packaging and an advertising campaign. So what should you look for when choosing a sunscreen? Here are some tips for buying sunscreen that I recommend to my patients.
1. Choose a sunscreen for your skin type
Sunscreens with additional moisturizers can clog pores, making acne-prone skin even more susceptible to breakouts. Patients with sensitive or oily skin should stick to water-based sunscreens.
2. Check the ingredients
One of the most important tips for buying sunscreen is to be sure to carefully look at all the ingredients included in the product. Avoid sunscreens with oxybenzone, retinyl palmitate, and parabens, as these additives have been linked to hormone disruption and even an increased risk of some cancers.
3. Don’t pay for more SPF
Ridiculously high SPFs are no more than a marketing bluster. SPF 30 blocks 97% of the sun’s UV rays while SPF 50 only blocks 98%. Sunscreens boasting SPFs of 50+ are only increasing the protection by a minute fraction. Regardless of advertising, there is no sunscreen available that is able to block 100% of harmful UV rays. As a general rule, I advise patients to use SPF 40. This option provides adequate protection at a moderate price.
4. Choose broad spectrum
Always check the label for a “broad spectrum” certification. This tip for buying sunscreen ensures protection from both UVA and UVB rays. Skin needs a strong defense from both types of cancer-causing rays. Without a broad spectrum certification, there is a higher risk of permanent damage.
5. Reapply regularly
Avoid sunscreens that claim to be “sweat-proof” or “water-proof.” No matter how thick or slick it may be, all sunscreens will eventually wear thin and wash off. Make sure to reapply sunscreen every two hours, or more regularly if swimming or exercising vigorously.
Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the U.S. Following these tips for buying sunscreen plus proper and regular application can challenge this trend. But remember, paying more may not buy more protection.
Thanks to skyseeker on flickr for the image used in this post https://flic.kr/p/54z6C.