How to Choose the Right Sunscreen
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First and foremost, it's better to use some sunscreen (even if it's not the right one) than no sunscreen at all. But if you have a choice, should you use one with "broad spectrum" protection? What's the difference between UV-A and UV-B? Dr. Schultz will explain what the key terms on sunscreen labels mean and how to determine which sunscreen is right for you.


Dr. Neal Schultz: Hello, I'm Dr. Neal Schultz and welcome to DermTV. In this segment of, I'm going to help you choose the correct sunscreen to protect your skin. Why do you need sunscreen? Because the only way you can get premature lines, wrinkles or age spots on your skin is by exposing it to the sun without adequate protection. And the lack of that same adequate protection is what causes skin cancer. Unfortunately, one American dies every hour in the United States from skin cancer. The good news is that it is a completely preventable disease. All you have to do is choose and use the correct sunscreen. The criteria for the correct sunscreen are: it needs to be strong enough; it needs to feel good when you put it on so you'll be inclined to re-apply it, which is very important; and it has to be compatible with your facial skin type. What is strong enough? Two parts to that answer because there are two parts to the damaging rays of the sun. The UVA or ultraviolet A rays cause aging and skin cancer. To choose a sunscreen that will give you protection from that, choose one that's marked simply with UVA protection or with broad-spectrum protection. For the UVB or burning rays from the sun, I recommend a sunscreen with an SPF of between 15 and 30. SPF simply means how long you can stay in the sun without getting a burn, and it also tells you about the percentage of protection that that sunscreen gives you. So, an SPF of 15, if it takes you 10 minutes on a nice summer day to develop a burn in the sun, an SPF of 15 will allow you to stay in the sun for 10 times 15 or 150 minutes, two and half hours. And, it also will give you 88% protection from those burning rays. Similarly, an SPF of 30 allows you to stay in the sun for 300 minutes, almost 5 hours, and gives you 95% protection from the burning rays of the sun. This dermatologist finds it very compelling to not recommend sunscreens more than 30 because the upside is merely 3 or 4% of additional protection but, as SPFs increase, we know their thickness increases so they become less pleasant to put on and we're less apt to re-apply them. That brings us to the second important criteria in choosing your sunscreen which is that you want it to feel good when you put it on, so you will re-apply it because that's a very important part of your sun protection. So, since SPF increasing cause increase it's thickness and makes the sunscreen feel not as good, I recommend sunscreens with an SPF of between 15 and 30 which gives you between 88 and 95% protection that feels good when you put it on, so you'll be more inclined to use it, re-apply it 3, 4, 5 times a day, rather than putting on a higher SPF sunscreen that's thicker, less pleasant, and you don't re-apply after the first use in the morning. Lastly, we want to make sure that your sunscreen is compatible with your facial skin type because, if you have oily or acne-prone skin, you don't want your sunscreen to aggravate your acne. You don't want it to make you break out, so you want to make sure that it's labeled either water-based or oil-free, or that it just doesn't clog your pores. For your body sunscreen, choose a lotion rather than a cream. They just spread more easily. Again, it's a function of -- you're just more apt to re-apply it. You now have enough information to choose the correct sunscreen to give you adequate protection so you can safely enjoy yourself in the sun. Please join me again at If you have a question, please send it to me by visiting I'm Dr. Neal Schultz and thank you for watching today.