Sunscreen 101

What to look for, SPF and ingredients break-down

Summer in the Pacific Northwest is a stunning time of year, sending many people outdoors to revel in the beauty and warmth. However, before heading outside for an extended time, it’s important to take steps to protect your skin.
Despite our many gloomy days, the state of Oregon has the sixth highest incidence of melanoma in the country. Dr. Gabe Currie, Broadway Medical Clinic dermatologist, shares expert advice on how to best protect your skin and what to look for in your sunscreen.

Q: Why is so important to use sunscreen regularly?

A: While sun avoidance and sun protective clothing are the best measures to avoid sunburn, photoaging, and skin cancer, this is not always possible. Sunscreen is the next best option.

Just remember that no matter the SPF number, sunscreen only works for about two hours and re-application is just as important as initial application.

Q: There are a lot of different sunscreen options on the market. What should I look for?

A: Look for a sunscreen that provides protection against both UVA and UVB rays (broad spectrum) and has a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) between 30 and 50. Anything higher than SPF 50+ can tempt you to stay in the sun too long. Even if you don’t burn, your skin may get damaged.

Also, look for water resistant sunscreen. This tells you that the sunscreen will stay on wet or sweaty skin for a while before you need to reapply. Water resistance lasts either 40 or 80 minutes. Not all sunscreens offer water resistance.

Q: Are there specific ingredients I should avoid?

A: Avoid oxybenzone (benzophenone 3), which is a synthetic estrogen that penetrates the skin and can disrupt the hormone system. This ingredient may also damage our coral reefs.

Summer is also a great time for a full-body skin exam. Your Broadway Medical provider can check your skin for irregular moles, growths, or lesions before they become dangerous to your health.

If you have any questions or concerns about your skin health or sun safety, call the Broadway team to schedule an appointment.

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