5 Sunscreen Dos and Don’ts

The Environmental Working Group, a long-standing consumer information organization, has put out its 2011 Sunscreen Guide. Here’s a look at the key points.

The Environmental Working Group, a long-standing non-profit consumer information organization, has recently put out its 2011 Sunscreen Guide. It’s a comprehensive piece of work, featuring effectiveness ratings of 1700 sunscreens, information about sun exposure and skin cancer and a detailed breakdown of what we should and shouldn’t be looking for in a sunscreen. No time to read it before hitting the beach? Bookmark these key points instead:

1. DO look for the ingredients zinc, titanium dioxide, avenobenzone and Mexoryl SX, all of which are powerful UVA blockers that remain on the surface of the skin instead of absorbing into the body.

DON’T choose a product that includes ingredients that may affect hormones and/or are potentially carcinogenic, such as insect repellent, oxybenzone and vitamin A (retinyl palmitate).

2. DO opt for SPF 15-30+ daily.  If you plan to be outdoors for an extended period of time, slather on the 30+.

DON’T waste your money on sunscreens claiming an SPF higher than 50+. According to the FDA, there’s no evidence such products provide better protection against harmful rays—and they may actually make us feel overconfident and less likely to reapply.

3. DO choose a long-lasting sunscreen that offers broad-spectrum protection from both UVA and UVB rays.

DON’T forget to reapply often. Even waterproof sunscreens eventually wash off, and all sunscreens can be easily rubbed off by towels, sand and clothes.

4. DO remind your husbands, sons, boyfriends, brothers and dads to wear sunscreen. According to research done by the Environmental Working Group, 78 percent of women wear sunscreen while only 34 percent of men do.

DON’T put sunscreen on an infant without consulting with your pediatrician.

5. DO test a small amount of sunscreen on your child’s wrist before slathering it on, to test for an allergic reaction to the ingredients.

DON’T assume the sunscreen your child’s school or daycare provides is the best choice for your kid. If he’s sensitive to certain chemicals or you want to be sure his sunscreen is safe and effective, pack your own.

Source: EWG’s Skin Deep

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest