How Well Does Sunscreen Protect You From Skin Cancer?
We hear it all the time: sunscreen is one of the most important tools we have for preventing skin cancer. But how well does sunscreen work, how much SPF do you need to prevent skin cancer, and how often should I wear sunscreen? In this blog post, we'll take a look at the evidence on sunscreen's effectiveness and offer some tips for using it safely and effectively.
What Is Sunscreen?
Sunscreen is a lotion, spray, gel, or other topical product that helps protect your skin from the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays. UV rays can cause sunburn, premature skin aging, and skin cancer. There are two different types of sunscreen: chemical and physical (or mineral).
Ultimately, the best type of sunscreen for you depends on your individual needs and preferences, though for daily wear, dermatologists do tend to favor a mineral sunscreen.
How Does Sunscreen Work?
Sunscreen works by absorbing, reflecting, or scattering UV rays. The SPF (sun protection factor) number on a sunscreen bottle indicates how well it protects against UVB rays, the type of ray that causes sunburn. An SPF of 30 blocks about 97% of UVB rays, while an SPF of 50 blocks about 98%. Most bottles of sunscreen are “broad-spectrum,” meaning that they block both UVA and UVB rays, but it’s the UVB rays that we’re most concerned about.
How Much SPF Do You Need To Prevent Skin Cancer?
The amount of SPF you need to prevent skin cancer depends on a few factors, including your skin type, how much time you'll be spending in the sun, and the intensity of the sun's rays.
The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends using a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher every day, even on cloudy days. For extended outdoor activity, they recommend using a water-resistant, broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 50 or higher. Here are a few things to remember:
Fair Skinned = More Sensitive
People with fairer skin tones are at an increased risk of skin cancer and should use a sunscreen with an SPF of 50 or higher. They should also reapply sunscreen every two hours or more often if they are sweating or swimming.
Darker Skin = Less Sensitive, But Not Immune
People with darker skin are a little less likely to get sunburned, but they can most definitely still get skin cancer— so you should still be reapplying that sunscreen every two hours. The AAD recommends that everyone, regardless of skin type, use a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher every day.
How Effective Is Sunscreen At Protecting Against Skin Cancer?
It's important to remember that sunscreen is not a foolproof way to prevent skin cancer. But it can make a heck of a difference. Research has indicated that sunscreen can reduce the risk of melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, by up to 50%. Other strategies include also wearing protective clothing, such as a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses, and avoiding the sun during the middle of the day, when the sun's rays are strongest.
How Often Should I Wear Sunscreen?
To use sunscreen effectively, you should apply it generously and evenly to all exposed skin 15 minutes before going outside. You should reapply sunscreen every two hours, or more often if you are sweating or swimming.
Rejuvaskin: Effective, Gentle, Mineral Sunscreen For Everyone
Here at Rejuvaskin, our goal is to create the best, most gentle products for all of our customers. To this end, we created our 100% Mineral Facial Sunscreen; this product uses non-nano zinc for a sheer, light finish without compromising on sun protection. So, grab yourself a bottle and lather up – your skin will thank you!
Check out our Mineral Facial Sunscreen!