Don't Forget!

The Right Sunscreen for You

Stay safe and lotion up.

By Kayla Stewart May 12, 2015

Image: Shutterstock

Those endless summer days are back. As vacations, outdoor barbecues and long days at the pool become the norm, it’s important to wear sun-protective clothing, seek out the shade, and make sure your sunscreen is SPF or higher with UV protection, which will reduce risk of wrinkles and skin cancer. Your sunscreen should be both sweat- and water-resistant, and contain titanium dioxide, oxybenzone, zinc oxide or ecamsule. As for the specific type of sunscreen you need, it varies greatly depending upon age, skin type and ethnicity. Here’s how to pick just the right one.   


Children have very sensitive skin. Look for sunscreens with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide for babies and children. If you select a spray sunscreen for your bundle of joy, make sure to spray it onto your hand first before applying it to the child’s face to avoid any accidental eye contact.


Products made with salicylates and ecamsule typically cause the least reaction, making these the best options for those with acne or allergy prone skin. In this category and others, it’s imperative to avoid products with fragrances or preservatives. Be wary of any products that contain PABA or oxybenzone. Those struggling with acne should also avoid using cream sunscreens, as they tend to increase the chances for breakouts.  

Fair Skin

Those with fair skin are most at risk for skin cancer, so it’s necessary to pick a sunscreen with a high SPF. Experts at the Skin Cancer Foundation suggest using a sunscreen with an SPF of 30-plus for extra protection. Also important is the reapplication process. Many do not apply the correct amount to achieve the intended protection, so reapply every two hours during outdoor activities.   

Dark Skin

There’s a common misconception that dark-skinned individuals don’t need skin protection. While darker-skinned people may not burn as easily, exposure to UV radiation can be just as dangerous is it is for the fair-skinned. Chemical sunscreens with a SPF of 15-plus are a suggested choice, and titanium-based products should be avoided as they may make the skin look chalky.


Older individuals are still at risk for age spots, sagging and wrinkles. Spray sunscreens are the easiest to use.


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