Dr. Ramzi Saad, a dermatologist with South Shore Skin Center in Cohasset, recommends using sun blocks that contain titanium dioxide or zinc oxide because they block both UVA and UVB rays. Some blocks may only protect against UVB rays.
When it comes to protecting your skin from harmful ultraviolet rays this summer, not just any sunscreen will do. If you really want to protect your skin, sun block may suit you better, said Dr. Ramzi Saad, a dermatologist with South Shore Skin Center in Cohasset.
“Sun block blocks the sun’s rays like a mirror,” Saad said. “Sunscreen is a chemical – it’s absorbed into the skin and scatters the rays, rather than blocking them.”
Saad recommends looking for sun blocks that contain titanium dioxide or zinc oxide because they block both UVA and UVB rays. Other blocks may only protect against UVB rays, he said.
But sun blocks aren’t for everyone, Saad said. They can be harsh on the skin and often leave a white residue. As such, some people would prefer a sunscreen. Saad recommends looking for one containing Parsol 1789, which also blocks both UVA and UVB rays.
After you’ve found a sunscreen that will block both types of rays, you need to consider how strong an SPF you need.
According to the American Cancer Society, the SPF number refers to how many minutes you can spend in the sun while wearing the sunscreen before you get the equivalent of one minute of unprotected exposure. For example, by wearing SPF 15 sunscreen, you get the equivalent of one minute of UV rays for each 15 minutes you spend in the sun.
The organization recommends using a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher.
The conventional wisdom, Saad said, was that anything stronger than SPF 30 wasn’t really increasing your protection. But that’s changed, he said.
“For numbers higher than 30, the increase in protection wasn’t significant enough to make it worth putting on the higher SPF,” Saad said, noting that higher-SPF sunscreens used to be more harsh on one’s skin. “Now an SPF 70 can be pleasant to use and you can benefit from even small increases in protection.”
A.J. Bauer may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.