Sunscreen labels don’t always tell the truth

When it comes to sun protection, everyone knows it’s essential to wear sunscreen in order to protect your skin. But when it comes to purchasing sunscreen, doctors want to make sure you know what you’re buying.

The most important aspect on sunscreen labels is the UVA and UVB protection. Brian Fulcher, Pharmacy Manager at Realo Discount Drugs, says the first thing to look for on the package is the UVA and UVB coverage. “UVA rays are typically the rays that we’re worried about to cause things like aging of the skin, and skin cancer. UVB rays are short rays. They’re the ones that vary in intensity during the day, and they’re the ones that we worry about when getting burnt.”

Dr. Chuck Phillips, Dermatologist and Division Chief at Brody School of Medicine, encourages everyone to look at the labels for the SPF listed. “SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor. But you don’t really need SPF that’s higher than 30. The 90 is loosing strength. 15 is the minimum anyone should use, but anything over SPF 30 is not going to do much more. However, no matter the SPF you use, you really need to reapply every couple of hours.”

Another tip: before you buy your sunscreen, make sure you’re actually purchasing what’s being advertised. Consumer Report tested 34 sunscreens to determine if they deliver the SPF that they promise, but almost a third of the sunscreens actually had SPF’s below what was being advertised.

Banana Boat Sport Spray claimed SPF+, but tests confirmed the SPF only averaged an SPF 24. Powerstay Technology listed SPF 100, but only delivered SPF 36. And CVS Baby Pure & Gentle SPF 60 Lotion actually tested as SPF 18.

Consumer Report rated three sunscreens as the “Best Buys:”
No-Ad Sport Lotion, $10.00
WalMart’s Equate Sport Continuous Spray, $8.00
Ultra Protection Lotion, $9.00

Whether you’re at the pool or laying at the beach this summer, you’re (hopefully) going to be wearing sunscreen. Make sure that before you apply, and re-apply, you check your labels before soaking up the rays.

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