How to Pick the Best Sunscreen for Your Family

As the days get longer and sun gets hotter in San Diego, summer activities and vacations commence! As San Diego heats up,  it’s important to know how to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays and prevent sunburns. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, a person’s risk for melanoma doubles if they’ve had more than five sunburns. The long list of sunscreen options can get overwhelming, presenting the common question: How do I pick the best sunscreen?


Protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays with these tips!


According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), there are 3 major factors to look out for:

1. Broad Spectrum

There are two types of UV rays; UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays are the dominant tanning rays, which can play a role in premature aging and wrinkling.  UVB rays causes sunburns, damaging the skin’s outermost layers. A combination of both types of UV rays can ultimately cause skin cancer. Broad spectrum sunscreen will protect you from both kinds of harmful UV rays.

2. SPF (Sun Protection Factor)30 or Higher

The AAD suggests that you choose sunscreens with an SPF 30 rating or higher. They also note that no sunscreen can fully protect you from the sun, making it important to also protect yourself from the sun by wearing  appropriate clothing and seeking shade when you can.

3. Water Resistant

Look out for the labels “water-resistant,” not “waterproof” on the sunscreen bottle. According to the AAD, water resistance lasts either 40 or 80 minutes and not all sunscreens are water-resistant. The AAD also states that there is no such thing as waterproof sunscreen.


Before heading out for fun under the sun, consider these sunscreen tips:

  • Apply 15 minutes before heading outside.
  • Don’t forget about your lips! Apply SPF 30 lip balm or lipstick.
  • Reapply every two hours, or after water activities.
  • Stick to creams for sunscreen. According to the AAD, the FDA is evaluating spray sunscreens to determine whether or not they are safe and effective.
  • If you have skin sensitivities, there are sunscreens made just for you.
  • For babies and kids, there are specific sunscreens made with your little ones in mind.
  • The AAD recommends that babies younger than six months old should not be exposed to the sun’s rays and sunscreen should be avoided as much as possible.
  • The FDA requires that all sunscreens maintain their protection factor for at least three years.

San Diego is heating up which means more beach days, hikes, and water activities! As you head out for your summer activities, be sure to find the right sunscreen that will protect you from the harmful UV rays. Always make sure that your sunscreen is broad spectrum, SPF 30 or higher, and water resistant. It’s important to reapply throughout the day; the AAD recommends every two hours.

If you’re unsure about which sunscreen to use or if you have a pre-existing skin condition, contact your Scripps Affiliated Medical Groups dermatologist.


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