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Using sunscreen is like wearing a seatbelt. When you drive, wearing a seatbelt keeps you safer but it does not allow you to drive recklessly. Similarly wearing sunscreen does not mean that you should spend excessive time in the sun. While sunscreen likely protects against most skin cancers and pre-cancers, research is still being conducted to determine if sunscreen protects against melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. Even better than sunscreen, we recommend that you minimize sun exposure, avoid the mid-day sun, and wear sun-protective clothing.

We recommend using sunscreen with an SPF (Sun Protective Factor) of at least # 30. Studies have shown that most people put on much less sunscreen than necessary so be sure to apply lots of sunscreen liberally. You need at least an ounce of lotion to properly protect your whole body. Even waterproof sunscreens need to be applied at least every two hours, especially if you are sweating or swimming.

Most sunscreen protects against UV-B (Ultraviolet B rays). Many sunscreens state that they also protect against UV-A (Ultraviolet A rays); we prefer you use sunscreen with either Parsol 1789, titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. Parsol 1789 is a specific UV-A protector. Titanium dioxide and Zinc oxide are the products that protect against all ultraviolet rays, but can sometimes need to be vigorously rubbed in as they can otherwise leave a white, chalky feeling on the skin.

Mexoryl is an excellent ingredient that protects against UV-A and is highly recommended. This ingredient has been present in sunscreens abroad for many years. It was finally approved in the USA in 2005 in sunscreen called Anthelios and will be incorporated into other sunscreen products as well.

Helioplex is another technological advance. Present in some Neutrogena sunscreens, it helps to stabilize certain sunscreen ingredients to make them more effective.

Sunscreens come in many types of formulations such as lotions, gels, lipsticks, sprays and sticks. If you have acne, look for a sunscreen that is non-acnegenic or non-comedogenic. If you have a lot of hair on your skin, then sprays or gels are preferable. Some recommended sprays are Ombrelle and Shade SPF 30. Some recommended gels are also Ombrelle and Shade SPF 30, which are also good for patients with acne.

If you prefer to use moisturizer, formulations that contain sunscreen are beneficial; however, if you spend significant time outdoors, then they may not be as effective as preparations that consist solely of sunscreen. If you are athletic, then sport sunscreen can be helpful, but many do not protect adequately against UVA, so sprays are another option. Also test sunscreen first on your forehead as some can drip and irritate your eyes. Sprays seem to be less likely to irritate. Using Neutrogena or some other sunstick around eyes can help prevent sunscreen from getting in to the eyes and minimizing any resulting irritation.

Some brands that we recommend include Anthelios and Neutrogena. Sunscreen formulations often change yearly, so be careful to check ingredients carefully. Also most sunscreen manufacturers have different ingredients in their sunscreen lines, so take care in checking the individual product.

In our experience most of the generic pharmacies such as Duane Reade, Rite-Aid, Genovese and CVS have limited stock and will not order sunscreens for you. You may have more success with smaller, independent pharmacies.

Remember to protect the rest of your body with tightly weaved clothing. And put sunscreen on your children as well since most sun damage occurs before age 18. Regular checkups at our dermatology center are important in maintaining your health and can be life-saving.

If you wish to set up an appointment, please contact our office via this website or call our office today at (212) 557-2600.