Not all sunscreens protect against UVA and UVB radiation damage to the skin. Historically the focus was on UVB protection because it’s the major cause of sunburn, but we now know that UVA rays contribute to skin damage and cancer. Sunscreens don’t always provide optimal UVA protection. Over 2 million people are diagnosed with skin cancer annually, and sunburns in kids and young adults are proven to increase the risk of skin cancer later in life.
Broad Spectrum means the product protects against both UVB and UVA rays. Some old sunscreen labels use this terminology, but new labels can only say “broad spectrum” if the product has passed specific FDA tests.
SPF has an upper limit of 50 because there is no evidence that an SPF over 50 provides any greater protection.
Water Resistant means a product is designed to stay on during outdoor activities. “Waterproof” and “sweatproof” don’t mean much because all sunscreens eventually wash off.
The American Academy of Dermatology recommends an SPF of 30 or more. All sunscreens need to be reapplied at least every 2 hours, even if they are water resistant. Also, make sure you use enough sunscreen; most people only apply 25-50% of what they should.
You do not need to avoid sunscreen if you are concerned about Vitamin D levels. Sunscreens do limit the amount of Vitamin D the body produces, but it’s usually not nearly enough to cause deficiency.
Content taken from Pharmacist’s Letter.