July 4, 2018

Sunscreen Tips: What sunscreen do you use?

Contributed by Dr. Taylor Mulkey, FAAD, board-certified Dermatologist

With summer coming in full swing, the most common question is: what type of sunscreen do you recommend? It is a bit of a loaded question, but very important.  First off, you can enjoy the outdoors and be conscientious of the sun.  It is possible to do!

I love sunscreen and obviously use a lot of it in our house.  Although sunscreen is a great tool, clothing is an amazing alternative and adjuvant.  Clothing is great at protecting our skin, really makes things “easier” and takes out many variables.  You want to choose clothing that has been designed for sun protection and tested to confirm its Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF).  UPF-rated clothing enhances everyone’s protection against UV-related health risks, but it is especially helpful for sun-sensitive people, children, water activities, and people taking medications.  Look for a UPF 40 or greater.

The sun protective clothing has really improved over the last several years.  Not only in design that is less “nerdy”, but also in functional aspects like venting.  I advise patients to consider sun protective clothing beyond the rash guard but integrate UPF clothing in your cover-up, workout clothes, and other outdoor gear.  Several companies make UPF fishing apparel that men will actually wear!

The American Academy of Dermatology advises sunscreen with an SPF 30 or greater.  There is research supporting the use of sunscreen over SPF 30.  I personally like a SPF greater than 45 for when I am at the pool, beach, or outside for more than 15 minutes.  For my daily facial sunscreen, I will recommend at least an SPF 30.  I find it is harder to find a more elegant sunscreen for daily wear, so I will compromise some SPF for a less greasy feel as I go throughout my day.

Yes, sunscreen really does need to be applied every two hours.  This can be difficult with children.  This is why I love the UPF clothing for kids! I have 2 active boys, one of which really dislikes lotions.  I generally do not like spray sunscreen.  I don’t believe you get as full coverage as compared to a lotion.  However, as a mom the spray can be great for the 2-hour reapplications (or for my golfers reapplying at the 9-hole turn).  I also find stick sunscreen to be helpful with my children (or golfers) for a quick, less messy application.  Powder sunscreen is something I have embraced the last few years.  It is fantastic to touch up your sunscreen on your face without messing too much with my makeup.  I keep it in my purse for my afternoon errand running, the afternoon commute, and occasionally the unexpected application for the kids.

So what sunscreen is the best? The sunscreen you will actually use! A few of my all-time favorites: