How To Choose And Use A Sunscreen - Overton Brooks VA Medical Center
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Overton Brooks VA Medical Center


How To Choose And Use A Sunscreen


Choose a Sunscreen that is –

Image of the sun's bright light on plants
  • Broad Spectrum - protects against both UV-A and UV-B rays
  • SPF (sun protection factor) of 15 or higher
    • SPF 15 filters out over 90% of the sun’s harmful UV-B rays
    • SPF 30 - 96%
    • SPF 45 - 98%.
  • Waterproof if you will be sweating or swimming
  • Made specifically for use on your face.  This will help to avoid the sunscreen ‘running’ into your eyes and burning
  • PABA (para-aminobenzoic acid) free if you are sensitive to that chemical
  • Water-based if you have acne or oily skin

Other tips –

  • Not all sunscreens have the same ingredients – If your skin reacts badly to the one you are using, try one with different chemicals.
  • Be aware of the expiration date.  Over time sunscreen may lose its effectiveness.
  • A more expensive brand is not necessarily more effective than a less expensive brand.
  • Shake well before use.  This will help to mix sunscreen that my have clumped up in the container.
  • Use enough.  Apply thickly and evenly. 

A good rule of thumb – use about 1 oz. or a handful to cover your entire body.

  • Apply to all parts of your skin that will be exposed to the sun.  Don’t forget your ears, back, shoulders, the back of your knees and legs.
  • Apply sunscreen:
    • About 20 – 30 minutes before going out in the sun.   This allows for your skin to absorb the sunscreen.
    • Every 2 hours when outdoors
    • After swimming or sweating
    • Even if you are wearing hats and protective clothing

Remember – No sunscreen offers 100% protection. 
Use sunscreen and practice sun safety for the best protection.

Return to the main Safety Tips page