Choosing the SPF 50 sunscreen correctly

In this article, we will tell you how to choose, use, and store a sunscreen correctly.
In the USA, sunscreen cosmetics are among the products whose circulation is controlled by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This agency checks the sunscreens before sale, which guarantees the quality and protective properties of the product.

The effectiveness of sunscreen depends not only on its quality, but also on the correctness of storage and use. Here are the key recommendations that provide reliable protection from solar UV radiation:

  • Limit the time spent in direct sunlight from 10:00 to 16:00.
  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat, filter, trousers, shirts or T-shirts with long sleeves.
  • Use a sunscreen with a UV protection factor of 15 or higher.
  • Reapply sunscreen at least every two hours. If you sweat, swim in the sea or pool, reapply it more often.
How to apply sunscreen correctly
  • Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going outside. This will ensure maximum protection efficiency. UV filters, which are contained in sunscreen cosmetics, need about 30 minutes to "take combat positions" and start working.

  • Use enough sunscreen to completely cover all exposed areas of the skin. Do not apply the cream to the eyes. On average, an adult needs to put about an ounce of sunscreen on himself to protect himself from the top of his head to his heels. An ounce is about 30 ml.

  • Please note that protection from the sun from the crown to the heels is needed on the beach. If you are walking around the city, it is enough to apply the cream to the exposed areas of the skin.

  • Find out what type of skin you have. People with type 1 and type 2 burn faster in the sun, so they need stronger protection.

  • Reapply sunscreen every two hours. Do this more often if you swim or sweat. Remember, in fact, "waterproof" sunscreens do not exist, since all creams are washed off during bathing.

People often forget to apply sunscreen on:

1) ears;
2) nose;
3) lips (colorless sunscreen lipstick);
4) neck from behind;
5) palms;
6) feet (when wearing sandals);
7) the skin on the forehead near the hairline (they are afraid to get their hair dirty);
8) the skin on the head (bald spots and parting should be protected).
How to properly store sunscreen

The FDA recommends protecting sunscreen cosmetics from direct sunlight when you take them to the beach. A tube of cream can be covered with a towel or put in the shade. Sunscreen is also afraid of high temperature. In hot weather, it is better to store it in the refrigerator.

Sunscreens for babies and children

Sunscreen cosmetics are contraindicated for children under six months. The FDA recommends not to be with children of this age in direct sunlight from 10:00 to 16:00, the rest of the time to wear long-sleeved clothing, use wheelchair visors for protection, and so on.

After six months, sunscreens for children are used after consultation with a pediatrician.

How to read the sunscreen label

What does "wide spectrum" mean?
On the label of such cosmetics it is indicated that it blocks UV-A and UV-B rays. If there is no spectrum information on the label, the sunscreen may not be effective enough.

The abbreviation SPF stands for sun protection factor. The SPF coefficient shows the level of protection that a person receives when using a sunscreen.

All sunscreen cosmetics in the USA are tested: they check how much UV radiation causes a burn when using sunscreen and compare it with the amount of UV radiation that causes a burn without using cream. According to the results of the inspection, the sunscreen receives an SPF coefficient.

A cream with a high coefficient, such as SPF 50, protects better than a cream with SPF 10. To reliably protect the skin, choose a sunscreen with SPF 15 and higher. If you have light skin (Fitzpatrick type I or II), a product with SPF 30 or 50 is suitable.

SPF has nothing to do with the duration of sun protection. Regardless of the coefficient, sunscreen cosmetics should be reapplied every two hours. Remember, the skin burns faster if you are in the sun from 10:00 to 16:00. The intensity of UV radiation is higher in the mountains and in the South. The closer you are to the equator and the higher above sea level, the easier it is to burn.

Ingredients of sunscreen cosmetics
All medicines and pharmacy cosmetics contain active and auxiliary ingredients. In sunscreens, the active ingredients are substances that block UV rays and protect the skin from burning. Auxiliary – substances that ensure the safety of the sunscreen, form its structure.

For example, water and preservatives are auxiliary substances. Acceptable active ingredients include:

aminobenzoic acid;
cinoxate, cinnamic acid;
octyl methoxycinnamate;
octyl salicylate;
padimat O;
phenylbenzimidazole sulfonic acid;
titanium dioxide;
trollamine salicylate;
zinc oxide.

Sunscreen act on the surface of the skin. But some cosmetics contain ingredients that are partially absorbed through the skin and enter the general bloodstream. Manufacturers and regulatory authorities in different countries of the world are studying the effect on the body of prolonged use of sunscreen cosmetics.

Now reports have begun to multiply that sunscreens with chemical filters "cause cancer". For our part, we would like to say that if there were at least some convincing evidence of harm to humans of certain ingredients of sunscreens, they would be immediately banned by the FDA.

Shelf life of sunscreen
The FDA requires that creams and other over-the-counter drugs from the pharmacy chain remain stable and effective for at least three years from the date of release. Similar requirements for cosmetics are imposed by European regulatory authorities. Therefore, if you bought an American or European sunscreen, consider it valid for three years from the date of purchase. After the expiration of this period, it is better to throw out the cream, since it will be ineffective.

The main question, which is probably overdue for the reader – so what kind of cream should I buy?

In the USA there is an independent organization – Consumer Reports, which give a rating to various products. Follow the link and choose a cream that is available in your region or use our review of sunscreens.
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