How To Choose The Best Sunscreen: Decrypting The Label

How To Choose The Best Sunscreen: Decrypting The Label

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If your job involves spending the working hours outside, then you know sunscreen is an important tool that should be used every day to protect your skin. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher that is water resistant. But what do those terms mean? How is the SPF calculated? Today I’m going to decode the labels so that you can choose a sunscreen that fits your needs.


Then sun emits two types of ultraviolet light that are harmful to our skin: UVA and UVB. UVA rays (long wave ultraviolet A) cause age spots and wrinkles, while UVB (short wave ultraviolet B) are the rays that cause your skin to burn. A broad-spectrum sunscreen protects your skin against both of these types of rays.


Sun protection factor, or SPF, measures how much UVB light a sunscreen can filter out. SPF 30 sunscreen filters 1/30 of the UVB rays, or about 97%. It’s important to note that no sunscreen is 100% effective at filtering out the UVB light.

Water Resistant

Products that claim to be water resistant must first go through testing before they receive this designation. The time frame that they are effective is specified on the label, either 40 or 80 minutes. Sunscreen should be reapplied accordingly while swimming or sweating to maintain its effectiveness.


My go-to sunscreen is by Neutrogena. Their dry-touch sunscreen leaves your skin feeling smooth and moisturized when it dries, not greasy like some other brands. It has broad spectrum coverage, and it’s water resistant for 80 minutes.


American Academy of Dermatology. (n.d.). Sunscreen FAQs. Retrieved June 18, 2019, from American Academy of Dermatology, Inc.:

Simon, S. (2018, June 11). Choose the Right Sunscreen. Retrieved June 18, 2019, from American Cancer Society:

American Academy of Dermatology. (n.d.). How to decode sunscreen lingo. Retrieved June 18, 2019, from American Academy of Dermatology, Inc.:

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