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WKEF-TV ABC 22 News :: News - Good Morning - What You Need To Look For When Buying Suntan Lotion

What You Need To Look For When Buying Suntan Lotion

Midwestern skin that has spent months hiding behind thick sweaters and long-sleeve shirts is always at risk for sunburns during the first couple weeks of spring. That’s why it’s important to find the best protection from the sun whether spring break means the sandy beaches of Florida or the neighborhood parks here in Southwest Ohio.
According to the American Cancer Society, more than 3.5 million skin cancers are diagnosed annually in more than two million people. Many of these skin cancers could have been prevented with protection from the sun’s rays, says the society. Therefore, choosing the right sunscreen should be a priority for all, especially since everyone is capable of getting skin cancer no matter the color of their skin.
It can be intimidating, however, to cut through the ever-increasing marketing and array of brands when trying to find the right sunscreen to do the job. Tracie Bolden, M.D., of Fairfield Road Physician Offices, a Premier HealthNet practice, says spring breakers only need to keep five key ingredients in mind when buying sunscreen and then be diligent about how often it is reapplied in order to prevent harmful sunburns.
“There are probably 17 to 20 different ingredients out there and they are broken down into two different types: Those that block the sun rays and those that absorb the sun’s rays,” Dr. Bolden said. “There’s quite a few of them, but just five that are recommended by the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). Those ingredients include Avobenzone, Cinoxate, Ecamsule, Menthyl Anthranilate and Oxybenzone.”
Sunscreen isn’t a product that most people put a lot of thought into even though it plays a vital role in preventing skin cancer, wrinkles and age spots. Still, the makers of such products provide so many options it can often leave individuals confused once they face numerous choices inside the retail stores. Dr. Bolden advises consumers not to be fooled by the higher SPF numbers because higher doesn’t always mean better.
“It’s all part of marketing,” Dr. Bolden said. “They are adding all sorts of things to sunscreen and you’ll even see SPF 90 or SPF 75. But mostly, if you pick a brand that is at least 30 SPF and you are following the directions for reapplying it like you should, I think you are going to be okay regardless.”
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, SPF 30 sunscreens block 97 percent of the sun’s rays, up from SPF 15, which blocks 93 percent. However, once a sunscreen is at SPF 50 the blockage only goes up to 98 percent. Anything above 50 percent isn’t adding any significant amount of blockage. However, Dr. Bolden does recommend that individuals with a family history of skin cancer use a 50 SPF.
Another important word worth looking for in sunscreens is broad-spectrum, which means the sunscreen will help block both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. UVA rays penetrate deeper into the skin and cause wrinkles and age spots. UVB rays are what make the skin burn. A sunscreen that protects against both rays will reduce the risk of skin cancer and aging, according to the AAD.
A sunscreen with one or more of the key ingredients that is broad-spectrum and is applied at least every two hours is going to help reduce the risk of skin cancer and aging. Anything outside of that is up to personal preference, including the new spray-on sunscreens and those that can be applied on wet skin.
“It’s all a matter of whether the kids will stand still for that purple spray or if they like the smell of the lotion,” Dr. Bolden said.
Dr. Bolden also recommends going to for more information on skin cancer, sunscreen effectiveness and tips on how to best protect you or your family from the sun. To find a Premier HealthNet doctor, visit
What You Need To Look For When Buying Suntan Lotion

Wednesday, March 27 2013, 09:49 AM EDT

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