My Dermatologist

Trusted Skin Care

Sunscreen and Sunblock

BlogJ Moore

What are sunscreens and sunblocks? 

Sunscreens have one of several chemical compounds that absorb either UVB or UVA light.  There are some individuals who are allergic to these compounds. Helioplex is a specific compound made by Neutrogena that has avobenzone and oxybenzone that covers UVA and UVB light. 

Sunblocks use one of the physical light blockers such as titanium and zinc and block all light.  There is very low risk of allergy to these. 

Tanning lotions are not recommended; these are low SPF lotions that allow the skin to darken with ultraviolet injury. 

Self-tanners contain dihydroxyacetone (DHA) which darkens the skin by staining the skin. It offers a safer alternative to ultraviolet darkening of the skin.  Self- tanners do not protect against sunburns and sunscreens/sunblocks are still needed.

What is SPF?

SPF stands for sun protection factor from UVB light only.  A SPF of 15 will increase the time it takes to burn 15 times.  So if someone with type one skin burns in 10 minutes without sunscreen, with a SPF 15 sunscreen, it would take 150 minutes to burn.  Check the labels to make sure it covers UVA and UVB light. 

A sunscreen or sunblock of at least SPF 30 is recommended for daily use.  Make sure the label states that it covers UVB and UVA light.  If you are planning on being outdoors for long periods of time, use at least an SPF of 30 and reapply every 2 hours.  The higher the SPF rating, the longer it will work but dermatologists still recommend reapplying your sunscreen every 2 hours and sooner after sweating or swimming.  Use an ounce of sunscreen to cover an adult body.

What else can I do?

Sunscreen should not be the only sun protection used.  It is recommended that you avoid the sun’s rays between 10am and 4pm, seek shade and wear sun-protective clothing and hats. Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes.


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