Are sunscreens created equal?

sunscreen application

Summer is here, and with it concerns about higher rates of skin cancer and how we can prevent it. It’s important to know the differences between various types of sunscreens – what makes them different, what ingredients they contain, and which ones work best. Here is the lowdown:

Sunscreens vs. Sunblocks

You might think that the two words are interchangeable, but they are different products. Sun protection is classified into one of two types – chemical and physical. Sunscreens use chemicals (e.g. benzophenone) to absorb UVA and/or UVB radiation, whereas sunblocks use ingredients (e.g. titanium dioxide, zinc oxide) to reflect radiation away from the skin. Sunblocks tend to provide more complete protection against UVA and UVB radiation, and are best for individuals who are sensitive to the chemicals in sunscreens. For more information, read this post on sunscreen’s active ingredients.

What about the chemical ingredients? Are they safe for children? If you would like to check out your favorite brand, why not visit the Environmental Working Group’s guide to sunscreens? If you want to play it safe, stick to physical sunblocks. An ingredient like Titanium Dioxide, for example, is a mineral that occurs naturally and is not absorbed into the skin, thus providing full-spectrum protection in the least intrusive way. Whichever you choose, remember to apply often, and don’t spend too much time in the sun. Your skin will thank you for it.


Author: Lydia

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