What ingredients should people look for in a sunscreen? Is there a level of SPF (Sun Protection Factor) that is most useful?
We recommend using sunscreens that protect against both ultraviolet B (UVB) and ultraviolet A (UVA) rays – both of which have been linked to skin cancer. For proper UVB protection, use an SPF 15 or higher sunscreen every day. For extended outdoor activities, a water-resistant SPF 30 is preferred. For effective UVA protection, select products that contain some combination of avobenzone, oxybenzone, mexoryl, zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. When it comes to sunscreen, be sure to use enough (two tablespoons for the entire body and a nickel-sized amount on the face), and to reapply every two hours or immediately after swimming or excessive sweating.
Sunscreen is only part of a complete sun protection program. To help prevent skin cancer, the Foundation has always recommended covering up with clothing, including a wide-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses. Click here to read the Skin Cancer Foundation’s complete list of Prevention Guidelines.
What, in your experience, is the greatest misconception about skin cancer?
Many people take a laissez-faire attitude towards sun protection because they think the damage is already done. However, we now know that sun damage continues to add up over the years, and the cumulative effects can lead to skin cancer. A recent study showed that we get less than 25 percent of our total sun exposure by age 18. The amount of sun exposure we receive accumulates as follows:
Between the ages of… Cumulative average percentage of lifetime sun exposure*
1-18 22.73 percent
19-40 46.53 percent
41-59 73.7 percent
60-78 100 percent
*based on a 78 year lifespan
To find out more about how to help fight skin cancer, please visit - The Skin Cancer Foundation