The wide variety of sunscreens available can be overwhelming. What level of SPF factor should you choose? Do you want waterproof or sweatproof? Spray, lotion, or foam?
Just when you think you’ve sorted through all of your options and arrived at the right sun protection for you, a whole new crop of products claiming to provide protection from the sun’s UV rays appear, vying for a spot in your sun-protection arsenal.
But which of these products work, and how many of their claims are proven? Here’s a breakdown of sun protection fact vs. fiction.
Waterproof/sweatproof sunscreens – These labels will soon be a thing of the past. The FDA has called for an overhaul of how sunscreens are marketed, starting with the end of claims that a lotion will continue providing protection through moist conditions. These sunscreens may last longer, but they still need to be reapplied. By December, sunscreen manufacturers will have to drop those claims from their labels, state how often their products must be reapplied, and prove to the FDA that their products protect against both UVA and UVB rays.
UV-protective clothing – These products work by blocking out harmful rays through the use of tightly woven fabric that’s been infused with chemicals that absorb UV rays, like titanium dioxide or Tinosorb. While this clothing must cover as much skin as possible in order to be effective, manufacturers focus on making these products lightweight, as well.
Sunscreen-infused laundry additives – The same UV ray-absorbing chemicals that are used in UV-protective clothing can be added to your own clothes through the washing machine. Of course, treating a bikini or other similarly skimpy article of clothing with this additive would defeat the purpose.
“Climate Control” hair products – While these products may do wonders in protecting your hair from becoming dry and brittle from the sun’s rays, they’ll do nothing to protect your scalp from skin cancer.
SPF cosmetics – These products do contain ray-reflecting ingredients, but chances are, you won’t use enough to benefit from their protection. According to Dr. Naomi Lawrence, if you wore the amount of SPF makeup necessary to protect your skin:
“You’d look like you had it caked on.”
So, take sun-protection claims with a grain of salt, and remember to do your research before purchasing something you hope will allow you to enjoy the sun safely.
To learn more about Dr. Lawrence, a dermatologist with 21 years’ experience in Marlton, NJ, see her Vitals profile.