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How to Pick the Best Sunscreen

Read Time: 2 minutes

Woman on snowy mountain applying sunscreen

Utah is a beautiful state with so many fun outdoor activities. But we are more at risk for skin cancer because of our outdoor lifestyle. These habits will help keep your skin safe whenever you are outside:

  • Seek shade whenever possible
  • Wear protective clothing like broad-brimmed hats, long sleeves and pants, and sunglasses with 100% UV protection
  • Avoid sun exposure during peak sun hours, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Wear sunscreen

Try to think of sunscreen as only part of your protection strategy. By combining sunscreen with these other sun-safe habits, you’ll get the best protection.

Which Sunscreen Is Best?

Use these tips to choose the best sunscreen and apply it in the right way.

Look at the ingredients. There are two types of sunscreen, chemical and mineral. Mineral-based sunscreen with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide is best because it reflects UV light away from your skin. Chemical sunscreen with ingredients such as avobenzone and benzophenone works by absorbing UV light, but it can wear off more easily than mineral sunscreen.

Look for broad spectrum sunscreen. Broad spectrum sunscreen blocks both UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays contribute to aging, while UVB rays cause sunburns. But both types of rays contribute to cancer.

Look for sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher. SPF stands for "sun protective factor." Sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or greater will block 97% of UVA/UVB rays.

Look for water-resistant sunscreen. Water-resistant sunscreen stays effective in the water for 40 minutes. Reapply after swimming, sweating, or toweling off.

How to Apply Sunscreen

  • Put on sunscreen 30 minutes before you head outdoors. This allows time for the sunscreen to soak into your skin.
  • Reapply every two hours, or after swimming or sweating (whichever comes first).
  • Use enough to fully cover your skin. One ounce (about one shot glass full) of sunscreen is a good starting amount, and you may even need more. If you are using a spray sunscreen, be sure to rub it into your skin after spraying for complete coverage.

While sunscreen is a great option for staying sun safe, babies under six months of age should not use sunscreen. Everyone over the age of six months should use sunscreen daily, even if you work indoors. Glass does not block UVA rays fully, and sunscreen can help protect you from these rays.

There’s no reason to avoid all the outdoor activities Utah has to offer. Just make sure you’re protecting your skin while you’re outside enjoying our beautiful state.

Cancer touches all of us.