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Sunscreen 101: Make sure that your sunscreen is fully protecting you!

Sunscreen is not just for skin cancer prevention. While protection from UVB could prevent most skin cancers, UVA causes 90% of the signs of aging on the skin. Therefore, sunscreen plays an impactful role in promoting graceful aging as well as cancer prevention.

Physical-blocking, mineral sunscreen zinc oxide is the ONLY agent that provides broad UVA and UVB protection. No other mineral or any chemical sunscreen provides UVA1, UVA2 and UVB protection. Try your best to wear topical sun protection that has both broad UVA and UVB protection. FDA and dermatologic recommendations are to use a broad spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30. The SPF correlates to UVB protection and an SPF 30 blocks 97% of UVB.


Adequate products should include:

  • At least zinc oxide alone

  • Titanium dioxide with zinc oxide

  • Titanium dioxide with combination of chemical UVA and UVB sunscreens

  • Or a combination of chemical UVA and UVB sunscreens

Physical blockers ( zinc oxide and titanium dioxide) are great for sun protection since they start working immediately upon application and also are not common causes of allergic reactions. 

Chemical sunscreens require about 20 minutes after application to become protective since they must be absorbed into the skin. Allergic reactions to chemical sunscreens has been on the rise over the last decade as more personal care products use them because of more cosmetically pleasing properties. Benzophenones ( such as avobenzone, dioxybenzone, and oxybenzone) are some of the most common causes of sunscreen-related contact dermatitis. 

All sunscreens should be reapplied after1.5 to 2 hours of ongoing sun exposure. Reapply sunscreen sooner if you get wet or experience excessive sweating. 

If you are allergic to certain chemical sunscreens, take time to avoid them in combination products and look for sole zinc oxide based products that still provide full UVA and UVB protection.

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Learn more about sunscreen at the Skin Cancer Foundation & Environmental Protection Agency links below: