We talk until we’re blue in the face about how important it is to apply sunscreen. But, something we haven’t addressed are the best ways to apply it. These days, there are three: the traditional rub on lotion or gel, the spray on, and the lesser known wipe.
“The best sunscreens are the ones that you are most likely to apply,” says Bay Harbor Islands, FL, dermatologist Melissa Lazarus. Rub on is generally the best option, but you need to make sure you put enough of it on, and apply it frequently. Spray on is easy to apply, but sometimes people apply it way too lightly and this doesn’t provide enough coverage. Sprays also can be problematic for children because they can easily inhale the particles. Wipes are convenient, but it can be hard to tell if you have put enough on.
So while rub on is probably the best option, what it really comes down to is how well and how often you apply it. “Wearing sunscreen properly means applying the right amount every day and reapplying during prolonged sun exposure,” says San Antonio dermatologist Vivian Bucay, MD. So that means reapplying every couple of hours or even more often, especially after swimming and heavy perspiration.
It’s also extremely important to check the ingredients that are inside the sunscreen. Ones that contain zinc oxide, titanium dioxide or mexoryl are your best bet. A problem with many sunscreens currently sold is that they say they provide broad spectrum UVA and UVB coverage when they really don’t. Thankfully, the new FDA regulations, effective in December 2012, will put an end to this problem.
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