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Pay Attention to Your Sunscreen Label

Learn How to Read a Sunscreen Label for Maximum Protection

The sun’s intense ultraviolet rays can lead to permanent skin damage, premature aging, and even cancer. So why risk it when there is something simple you can do? Choose sunscreen! Sunscreen should be a mandatory part of your daily routine; however, selecting the right SPF product may seem daunting if you don’t understand the labeling standards. Arm yourself with knowledge and become an informed shopper who knows how to protect their skin adequately against UV radiation.

What Broad Spectrum Means?

The FDA mandates that only products with a SPF of 15 or higher and labeled “broad spectrum” have been proven to reduce the risk of skin cancer, early aging, and sunburn. This is because broad spectrum sunscreen guards against both UVA and UVB rays. Enhance your knowledge on this subject by educating yourself further about the distinctions between these two types of ultraviolet light.

SPF (Sun Protection Factor)

SPF, or Sun Protection Factor, is the indicator that determines a sunscreen’s ability to shield your skin from UVB rays. The Skin Cancer Foundation suggests an SPF 15 sun protection product as it can keep you safe in the sunlight 15 times longer than if no sunscreen was applied. Although a higher number of SPF indicates stronger quality sunblock, even with maximum coverage there is still potential for ultraviolet exposure – because no lotion guards against all solar radiation.

SPF 50 is a great sunblock, protecting you from 98% of UVB rays. However, the higher your SPF rating goes, the less significant protection it delivers – no matter how high it is! This means that even if you’re using an SPF 100 sunscreen or above – make sure to reapply every two hours; don’t be fooled into thinking that because your product has a high SPF label on it that you can use less and apply fewer times throughout the day.

Active Ingredients

According to the FDA, some of the most common and effective UV filters in sunscreen are Avobenzone, Cinoxate, Dioxybenzone, Ensulizole, Homosalate, Meradimate ,Octinoxate ,Octisalate  Octocrylene  Oxybenzone ,Padimate O  Sulisobenzone Titanium Dioxide Trolamine Salicylate Zinc Oxide. Of these active ingredients two in particular stand out as physical (or mineral) sunscreens: Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide. So be sure to check your label before purchasing a new bottle of sunscreen.

Acting like a mirror, physical sunscreen ingredients sit on the surface of the skin and either reflect or block UV rays to protect against sunburns. On the other hand, chemical SPF actives such as Avobenzone and Oxybenzone are absorbed into your skin where they break down UV radiation before releasing it again in heat form. For those with delicate complexions, these physical sunscreens can be an ideal option for safeguarding their skin from harm due to prolonged exposure to sunlight.

“Uses” Section

Labeling of any sunscreen will always have a “helps prevent sunburn” statement in the Uses section, however if it is broad spectrum SPF 15 or higher you may also see an additional success message claiming that “if used as directed with other sun protection measures (see Directions), decreases the risk of skin cancer and early skin aging caused by the sun.” Even though this second statement isn’t present on every bottle, it doesn’t mean your chosen product isn’t still providing broad spectrum coverage.


It is imperative that users heed the warnings on all sunscreens, avoiding contact with damaged skin and eyes as well as discontinuing use in case of rash. If a sunscreen fails to pass broad spectrum testing or has an SPF rating lower than 15 it will contain a warning regarding potential risks of skin cancer and premature aging – emphasizing how vital proper protection against UV rays truly is.


Taking the right steps to safely enjoy the sun is essential, and how you use your sunscreen plays an integral role. To optimize protection against UV rays, apply a generous layer of sunscreen 15 minutes before exposing yourself to sunshine; it’s vital that you reapply at least every two hours as well. Additionally, any water-resistant SPF product will state explicitly whether its effectiveness lasts 40 or 80 minutes when swimming or perspiring greatly — yet bear in mind that this does not equate with waterproofing.

Inactive Ingredients

In addition to the main components, sunscreens also include various “Inactive Ingredients”. One such example is Dimethicone which gives a sunscreen product its smooth and soft application. Sodium Hyaluronate (commonly known as Hyaluronic Acid) adds hydration to it as well. Taking proper care of your skin by protecting it from the harsh rays of the Sun is one of the most important steps in any skincare routine – learn more about why this step should not be neglected.

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