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  • Writer's pictureDr. Anita Shetty, MD

Choosing the Right Sunscreen for you

Updated: Mar 12, 2019

Ignoring these basic things can cost you your skin. So here are the things to look out for when picking from the many options and brands on the shelf.

Over the course of my career, I've found that the most common question I get from patients is related to sunscreen. Because of my person mission to advocate for skin health, I decided to share my knowledge and help my patients make an educated decision when faced with a shelf full of hundreds of products.

When shopping the hundreds of brands on the shelf, what should I make sure to look for?

1. High SPF 

Make sure you're protected! Studies show that we don't put on enough sunscreen to really get the level of protection on the label.

2. Lotion, not spray

Lotions provide an even, thick coat without missing spots (which is easy to do with a spray!).  Sticks can get into tricky areas like around the eyes and ears.

3. Broad spectrum

Offers coverage for the entire spectrum of ultraviolet (UV) radiation - UVA and UVB

4. Water resistant

40 minutes or 80 minutes - make sure to reapply as indicated to be sure you stay protected

5. Organic ("chemical") and Inorganic ("physical") 

Use both for the best protection!  Several sunscreen lines combine these ingredients to provide you the best protection. EltaMD, Blue Lizard

Organic ingredients- look for avobenzone, oxybenzone, homosalate, octisalate, octycrylene, octinoxate  

Physical ingredients- look for titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, and iron oxide (an additional barrier found in tinted products)

Great! I found the perfect fit for me... is there a "better" way of applying it to my skin?

Making sure sunscreen is applied correctly is an important part of the education I do with my patients and it's also a very simple process, but most patients are not aware. So, here is how you will get the most out of your sunscreen.

Apply more than you think you need - one ounce (a shot glass) to cover your entire body, or a quarter-sized dollop for your entire face and neck

Easy to miss spots - ears, behind the ears, parting of hair, back of neck, near the edges of clothing

Stay away from.....

Best types for these skin types - dry, oily, mature, acne-prone, etc....

How often should I replace my sunscreen?

Should I buy a new bottle every year even if I didn't use it up?

Where should I store my sunscreen?

Sunscreen Q&A with Dr. Shetty

How often should I apply sunscreen?

Apply everyday - not every patient, but for those suffering from melanoma or those who have melanoma or other medical conditions running in the family, it's important to be protected from any kind of direct UV light.

I work in front of the computer screen every day. Is it important to use sunscreen?

What brands do you recommend?

Are there brands/types out there that you DON'T recommend?

Are the most expensive sunscreens (branded ones from department stores) better than the ones we can find at Walgreens or other pharmacies?

What is the "hot" new technology in sunscreens?

Just because a sunscreen

If you suffer from a sun sensitive condition or have had skin cancer in the past, you may need a more personalized approach.

Still have questions about what's the best sunscreen for you, or suffer from a skin condition that you need help for? I suggest you book an appointment with a dermatologist you trust. If you'd like to schedule a consultation with me, please click here and my staff will reach out to you.

About Dr. Anita Shetty

Dr. Anita Shetty is a board certified Dermatologist. She sees patients in Marietta and Alpharetta, Georgia. She completed her dermatology residency at Loyola University Medical Center. She is passionate about skin health and helping patients regain their confidence by giving them the healthiest skin possible. She lives in Atlanta, GA with her husband and three daughters.

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