Your Guide to Sunscreen: Protect Your Skin this Summer

Summer is approaching quickly, which means the sun’s rays are about to be a lot stronger, making wearing sunscreen essential to prevent sun damage. There are many types of sunscreen on the market, and choosing the best one for you and your family can be overwhelming. With a few tips, you can navigate the sunscreen aisle and find the best sunscreen to protect your skin this summer.

Cassandra Lacher, DO, MHA
Cassandra Lacher, DO, MHA

Before exploring the different types of sunscreen, it’s essential to understand precisely what it is and its role in protecting your skin. “Sunscreen is a topical product that’s often a lotion or mist that helps protect your skin from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation,” says Cassandra Lacher, DO, MHA, “It absorbs or reflects UV rays to prevent them from penetrating skin.”

There are several types of sunscreen available on the market, including:

  1. Chemical sunscreen: Chemical sunscreens are lightweight, easy to apply, and have a transparent finish. They often have the active ingredients avobenzone, oxybenzone, octocrylene, and homosalate.
  2. Physical or mineral sunscreen: Physical sunscreens, also called mineral or natural sunscreens, have zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, which work together to create a physical barrier on the skin to protect it from UV rays. “This type of sunscreen is great for sensitive skin and provides protection immediately when applied,” Dr. Lacher says.
  3. Combination sunscreen: This type of sunscreen is a combination of chemical and physical sunscreen. Combination sunscreen has active ingredients from chemical and physical sunscreen that protect the skin from UVA and UVB rays.

Now that you have chosen the best sunscreen for you, here are the benefits that wearing sunscreen can have on your health:

  1. Prevents skin cancer: “UV radiation from the sun is a known carcinogen that can damage the DNA in your skin cells and increase your risk of developing skin cancer,” warns Dr. Lacher. “Regular use of sunscreen helps protect against the harmful effects of UV radiation and reduces your risk of skin cancer, including melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.”
  2. Slows down skin aging: UV exposure can accelerate the aging process, which can lead to wrinkles, fine lines, age spots, and sunspots. Wearing sunscreen not only in outdoor activities but also in daily life can help prevent premature skin aging.
  3. Prevents sunburn: Sunburns are painful and can cause skin damage – both of which are no fun to deal with. Sunscreen, when worn properly and reapplied at the appropriate times, can help prevent sunburns from happening.

Wearing the right sunscreen allows you to enjoy outdoor activities while preventing skin cancer, reducing skin aging, and preventing painful sunburns. It may take trying a couple of different sunscreens to find the best one.

“Sunscreen is your first line of defense against the sun’s harmful rays. Protect your skin so you can continue to be healthy and enjoy your favorite outdoor activities this summer,” Dr. Lacher says.

If you notice any changes in your skin or have any concerns, schedule an appointment with your primary care provider immediately. If you don’t have a primary care provider, click here.