Summer is coming to Texas and with that, we hit the lake, the pool, head for a beach somewhere or simply open the sun roof or put down the top of our car.  Now is the time to select the perfect sunscreen for the conditions you will be in.

In 2013 the FDA changed the rules about the labeling of sunscreen products, making them a lot easier to read and understand. You no longer need to be an organic chemist to compare products and understand the level of protection you can expect.

Here are a few things you need to look for when choosing a sunscreen product:

Broad spectrum coverage   Before the new rules, the term “broad spectrum” had no meaning. Now, the FDA allows sunscreens to use the term only if they pass a certain test for blocking UVB and UVA rays.

Broad spectrum products help protect the skin from burning, skin cancer, and sun damage that causes wrinkles and premature skin aging.

SPF above 30   SPF, or Sun Protection Factor, refers to the length of time a person can stay out in the sun with the sunscreen on before they’ll burn. In theory, the higher the number, the longer your protection lasts.

But SPFs come with a big catch. Sunscreens are tested for SPFs applied at a certain thickness on the skin and people rarely use that much.

The Department of Dermatology at New York University Medical Center found that in reality, if you’re using an SPF 50 and you’re applying only half the normal rated amount, you’re getting between a 12 1/2 and a 25 at actual use. Higher SPFs offer better insurance against sunburn, in case you don’t put enough on.

Water resistance   Your old sunscreen might have been labeled as “waterproof” or “sweat proof.” Those terms are no longer allowed under the new FDA rules because they are misleading and confusing to consumers. Instead, bottles will now say whether a sunscreen is water resistant for 40 or 80 minutes.

The new sunscreen rules are helpful, but they’re not perfect. They don’t yet apply to newer formulations, like sprays and powders, so we are still on our own when trying to judge the effectiveness of those newer products.

The new labels also don’t tell you anything about how sticky, gooey, or greasy a product feels, and that’s important, since “sunscreens only work if you use them.

Tips for Applying Sunscreen

Once you’ve found a product you like, be sure to use it correctly. The American Academy of Dermatology offers these tips for proper application.

Use enough   Most adults need a full ounce of sunscreen to fully cover all exposed areas of skin. An ounce is the amount in a shot glass or enough to fully cover the palm of your cupped hand.

Use it early   Chemical Sunscreen takes about 15 minutes to absorb into the skin, so put it on before you head outdoors.

If you have chosen a physical sunscreen, containing inorganic compounds like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, there is no waiting time for it to become effective in protecting you from sunburn. If your kids and grand kids are like mine, they will thank you for not making them wait to go outdoors!

Use it often  Sunscreen should to be reapplied every 2 hours, even if it has a high SPF. Be sure to put more on immediately after swimming or sweating.

Don’t use expired products   Sunscreen loses its effectiveness when it starts to separate, which happens 2 to 3 years after it was made. Toss any products that are expired, or that look gritty or have changed appearance.

Never rely on sunscreen alone   Experts also advise covering up with sun protective clothing, including a hat with a wide brim and sunglasses. And remember that the sun is at its strongest from noon to 4:00 pm.

Cleanse before bed   Physical sunscreens must be removed before retiring each night.  Be sure to cleanse and moisturize your skin after sun exposure.

I am proud to offer Rhonda Allison’s Broad Spectrum Daytime Defense (SPF30) in my salon, Faces By Becky Horn.


Beautiful, Healthy Skin Begins Here