How to Choose Sunscreen and 5 Side Effects of Using Sunscreen



How to Choose Sunscreen

Choosing the right sunscreen isn’t just about grabbing the first bottle you see on the shelf. It’s about finding a product that suits your specific needs and provides the best protection. Here’s a guide to help you make an informed decision.

1. Understand SPF Ratings

What is SPF? SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor, and it indicates how well a sunscreen can protect your skin from UVB rays, which are the main cause of sunburn and contribute to skin cancer.

Choosing the Right SPF:

  • SPF 15: Blocks about 93% of UVB rays, suitable for everyday use when you’re mostly indoors.
  • SPF 30: Blocks approximately 97% of UVB rays, ideal for moderate outdoor activity.
  • SPF 50+: Blocks 98% of UVB rays, best for prolonged outdoor exposure and fair-skinned individuals.

2. Look for Broad-Spectrum Protection

Why Broad-Spectrum? Broad-spectrum sunscreens protect against both UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays can prematurely age your skin, causing wrinkles and age spots, while UVB rays are the main cause of sunburn.

What to Look For: Ensure your sunscreen is labeled “broad-spectrum” to get the most comprehensive protection.

3. Consider Your Skin Type

Sensitive Skin: Opt for sunscreens that are free of fragrances and parabens. Mineral sunscreens with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide are less likely to irritate sensitive skin.

Oily or Acne-Prone Skin: Choose a non-comedogenic sunscreen, meaning it won’t clog your pores. Gel-based or water-based sunscreens are great options for oily skin.

Dry Skin: Look for sunscreens with hydrating ingredients like glycerin or hyaluronic acid. Cream-based sunscreens can provide additional moisture.

4. Check for Water Resistance

Why Water Resistance Matters: If you’re swimming or sweating, water-resistant sunscreen will stay on longer. However, no sunscreen is completely waterproof, so you’ll need to reapply every 40 to 80 minutes, depending on the label instructions.

5. Evaluate the Ingredients

Mineral vs. Chemical Sunscreens:

  • Mineral Sunscreens: Contain active ingredients like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. They work by sitting on top of the skin and deflecting UV rays.
  • Chemical Sunscreens: Contain ingredients like oxybenzone or avobenzone that absorb UV rays and convert them into heat.

Choosing the Right Ingredients: For sensitive or environmentally conscious users, mineral sunscreens are often a better choice as they are less irritating and more reef-safe.

6. Pay Attention to Expiration Dates

Why It Matters: Using expired sunscreen reduces its effectiveness. Always check the expiration date before purchasing and avoid using sunscreen that has changed color or consistency.

5 Side Effects of Using Sunscreen

While sunscreen is essential for protecting your skin from sun damage, it can sometimes cause side effects, especially if not chosen or used correctly. Here are five potential side effects to be mindful of:

1. Allergic Reactions

What Happens: Some people may develop allergic reactions to certain sunscreen ingredients, resulting in red, itchy, or swollen skin.

Common Allergens:

  • Fragrances
  • Preservatives
  • Certain chemical filters like oxybenzone

How to Prevent: Perform a patch test before applying a new sunscreen all over your body, especially if you have sensitive skin.

2. Acne Breakouts

Why It Happens: Some sunscreens can clog pores, leading to breakouts, especially if you have oily or acne-prone skin.

Avoiding Breakouts: Opt for non-comedogenic formulas and avoid greasy, thick sunscreens that can trap oil and bacteria.

3. Eye Irritation

Causes: Sunscreen can irritate the eyes if it drips into them from sweat or if you accidentally rub it into your eyes.

Preventing Eye Irritation:

  • Choose a water-resistant formula to reduce the chance of it running into your eyes.
  • Be careful when applying sunscreen near your eye area.

4. Hormonal Disruptions

Potential Risk: Some chemical sunscreens contain ingredients like oxybenzone, which may disrupt hormone levels.

Choosing Safer Options: Opt for mineral-based sunscreens or those labeled as free from potential endocrine disruptors.

5. Environmental Impact

Reef-Safe Concerns: Certain sunscreen ingredients can harm marine life and coral reefs. Oxybenzone and octinoxate are particularly harmful.

Eco-Friendly Choices: Look for reef-safe sunscreens that do not contain harmful chemicals and opt for mineral-based formulas that are less damaging to aquatic ecosystems.