How to Choose Sunscreen

Whether you are heading out to the beach for relaxing day of swimming, or traveling out on the nature trail for a fun day of hiking, sunscreen should be an important part of your day. Follow the instructions contained in this guide to learn how to choose a sunscreen that is right for you.


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    Pick a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against UV-A and UV-B rays. The ideal product will have a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15.
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    Read product labels.
    • Look for a waterproof brand if you will be sweating or swimming.
    • Buy a no-sting product or one specifically formulated for your face.
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    Choose a brand that does not contain para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA) if you are sensitive to that ingredient.
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    Try a sunscreen with different chemicals if your skin reacts badly to the one that you are using. Not all sunscreens have the same ingredients.
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    Use a water-based sunscreen if you have oily skin or are prone to acne.
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    Be aware that more expensive does not mean better. Although a costly brand might feel or smell better, it is not necessarily more effective than a cheaper product.
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    Be aware of the expiration date because some sunscreen ingredients might degrade over time.


  • Be wary of buying sunscreen that claims to have an extremely high SPF. Sunscreen with an SPF higher than 70 is generally no better than SPF 50-70, and may cause you to spend extra money for a product that is really no better.
  • Medical organizations such as the American Cancer Society recommend the use of sunscreen because it protects against the skin cancers squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma. [1]


  • Over-Exposure to the sun can be harmful to your skin. If you are going to be exposed to the sun for a long period of time, be sure to apply sunscreen.
  • Understand what SPF means. A higher SPF does not mean that you apply sunscreen less often. SPF simply shows how much protection you are getting. (e.g. SPF 15 gives you 15 times the protection your skin normally gives you) Apply sunscreen at least once every two hours, more often if you swim.

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Categories: Stings Bites and Burns | Sun and Sunless Tanning