Sunscreen is a vital tool in the prevention of skin cancer, photoaging, and worsening of certain light-sensitive skin conditions. Because of this vast application, numerous formulations of sunscreens have been developed to encourage their use, including creams, lotions, gels, sprays, sticks, and powders. In this post, we highlight various formulations of sunscreen available today and discuss their recommended uses (Table).
Before discussing sunscreen formulations, it's important to highlight general sunscreen facts. When choosing a sunscreen, an SPF of 30 blocks ~97% of ultraviolet radiation and is the lowest recommended SPF. Sunscreen products with an SPF of 30 or higher that are also broad-spectrum (blocking multiples types of harmful ultraviolet radiation) and water-resistant are highly recommended.
Table - Various sunscreen formulations and their applications.
* Special note on lip protection:
The lips are especially prone to sun damage and may also develop skin cancer. Numerous dual-action lip balms exist providing both moisturization and sun-protection.
When choosing a sunscreen formulation, it's important to choose one a product that is easiest for you to use so that you will routinely use it and adhere to a sun protection regimen. Despite the importance of sunscreen in protecting yourself from the sun’s ultraviolet rays, no sunscreen formulation is able to block all of the damaging light. Avoiding prime sun-exposure time (10 A.M. to 4 P.M.), wearing sun-protective clothing, and seeking out shaded areas are vital components of sun-protection.
* Disclaimer: This discussion summarizes the look and feel of sunscreen products but does not approach the nature of the active ingredients, which will be covered in another blog post.