One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime, something doctors say could be prevented with proper sunscreen. But how do you know what will provide the best protection?
The sun emits both Ultraviolet A (UVA) and Ultraviolet B (UVB) rays which can lead to sunburns, aging and skin cancer.
"In order to be against both of those--the UVA and the UVB--you have to see those on the label," says Korina Ebel, an aesthetician and cosmetic provider at Lakeshore Skin Care. "A broad spectrum would always be my recommendation, or look for skin cancer stamp of approval; it's always on the front or usually on the back as well."
The stamp means the product meets the new regulations by the FDA, and a higher SPF doesn't mean better protection. When sunscreen is applied appropriately, the UVB rays absorbed by SPF 15, 30, and 50 is 93, 97 and 98.
"Number 30 is pretty commonly what physicians would advise," says Dr. Karen Eldevick, a physician at Family Care Doctors. "Don't be fooled that level 50 is going to be the greatest sunscreen."
"Itâ??s all marketing," she adds.
The amount of minutes it takes your skin to burn, multiplied by the SPF, will give you the amount of time you can stay out in the sun. If you burn in 10 minutes and use SPF 30, you should stay protected for at least 300 minutes. High levels of activity could alter that estimate.
"If you've been sweating heavily or you've been swimming, I would rather reapply the sunscreen than take a chance that it was truly waterproof," Eldevick says.
It's recommended to apply one ounce of sunscreen to your body 30 minutes prior to going outside. Applying it to dry skin in the morning is also recommended.