Frequently Asked Questions About Sunscreen

Sunscreen is one of the easiest and safest ways to protect yourself from the sun. Read on to learn about sunscreen — and don’t forget to take advantage of Wiley’s Pharmacy’s 20% discount on sunscreen this season.

Who should wear sunscreen?

The American Academy of Dermatologists says everyone should wear sunscreen outside, no matter their age or skin color, the time of year, or the weather. Wearing sunscreen protects you from the UV radiation that causes skin cancer.

How does sunscreen work?

Sunscreen is a unique combination of organic and inorganic ingredients. Organic ingredients in sunscreen, like octyl methoxycinnamate (OMC) or oxybenzone, convert UV radiation into heat. Inorganic ingredients, like titanium oxide and zinc oxide, reflect UV radiation away from your skin.

What should I look for when buying sunscreen?

Sunscreen should be water-resistant, with an SPF of 30 or more, and it should offer broad spectrum (UVA and UVB) protection. (If you’re unsure about what strength of sunscreen to use, consult your dermatologist.) Cream, gel, and spray sunscreens all work, although be sure any spray is covering your skin.

Does sunscreen spoil?

All sunscreen’s potency is guaranteed for three years. Check the bottle’s expiration date.

How should I apply sunscreen?

Experts recommend using as much sunscreen as you need to cover all your exposed skin (including the top of your head, your neck and ears, and your hands and feet). For most adults, that’s about a shotglass.

Apply sunscreen about 15 minutes before going out, then let it dry. Remember to reapply sunscreen every two hours. Swimming or sweating will remove sunscreen, so put on more afterward.

Are there any dangers from wearing sunscreen?

All sunscreens sold in the U.S. are approved by the FDA and are safe for humans. One ingredient in many sunscreens, oxybenzone, may harm coral reefs — so if you’re concerned, choose an oxybenzone-free sunscreen.

Finally, remember that wearing sunscreen shouldn’t be your only line of defense against the sun:

  • Consider avoiding the sun between 10 AM and 2 PM, when its rays are strongest. Consult your doctor before spending extended periods of time in the sun.
  • Remember that water, snow, and ice all reflect sunshine, increasing your sun exposure.
  • Wear a hat and shades to protect your eyes.
  • Avoid tanning beds.
  • If you need vitamin D, get it from your diet and supplements — not from sun exposure.

Finally, while sunscreen prevents skin cancer, it doesn’t treat it. If you or someone you know is showing symptoms of skin cancer, schedule an appointment with your doctor.