1. Home
  2. Ask the Expert
  3. Questions and Answers  
Main content

Question & Answer

The Best Sunscreen? | Ask the Expert
One does not need to look at the specific ingredients of a sunscreen to determine if it is effective or not. The main issues in choosing a sunscreen are evaluating its sun protection factor (SPF) and whether it is broad spectrum or not. The SPF focuses on the protection that one receives from ultraviolet B, which is the burning rays produced by the sun. Prolonged and repetitive exposures to ultraviolet B lead to skin cancer. The higher the SPF, the better the protection. The current recommendation is to choose a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. If your skin is especially sensitive, or if you have a sun-sensitive skin condition, or if you are taking a medication that makes you more sensitive to the sun, then you can pick a sunscreen with an SPF number all the way up to 100. However. most people do well at around 30. It is also important that your sunscreen block ultraviolet A which is the non-burning rays that penetrate window glass and also penetrate deep into the skin causing aging, wrinkles, loss of elasticity, as well as skin cancer. You can be sure that your sunscreen contains a blocker for ultraviolet A if it says that it is "broad spectrum." The only reason one would need to look at sunscreen ingredients would be if you were allergic to one of them and experiencing a rash, or if the sunscreen was causing stinging or burning of your eyes. The best sunscreen ingredients for those with sensitive skin or skin allergy to sunscreen, or those who experience eye irritation, is titanium oxide or zinc oxide. These are often referred to as "chemical free" or "sensitive skin" sunscreens. They may leave a slight whitish film on your skin, but they are very effective. Neutrogena is the most popular sunscreen brand recommended by dermatologists. However, most brands or generic sunscreens will work just fine if you follow the advice about picking the right SPF (30 or above) and picking one that blocks both ultraviolet A and B (broad spectrum).
Skin,Other,Cancer,

Question:

I just read information about sun protection, noting the ingredients necessary for a good sun screen. I checked the sunscreens I use and see NONE of those ingredients. Can you recommend a product with the best ingredients?

Answer:

Robert Peppercorn, M.D.Robert Peppercorn, M.D.DermatologySutter Medical Foundation
Expert
Robert Peppercorn, M.D.DermatologySutter Medical Foundation

Dr Peppercorn is a board-certified Dermatologist with more than 30 years experience in his field. He treats a variety of skin conditions, including skin cancers, and also focuses on cosmetic skin rejuvenation techniques. He helped build the Sutter North Advanced Dermatology and Laser Center, a full service, state-of-the-art center for treating a variety of skin conditions.

One does not need to look at the specific ingredients of a sunscreen to determine if it is effective or not. The main issues in choosing a sunscreen are evaluating its sun protection factor (SPF) and whether it is broad spectrum or not. The SPF focuses on the protection that one receives from ultraviolet B, which is the burning rays produced by the sun. Prolonged and repetitive exposures to ultraviolet B lead to skin cancer. The higher the SPF, the better the protection. The current recommendation is to choose a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. If your skin is especially sensitive, or if you have a sun-sensitive skin condition, or if you are taking a medication that makes you more sensitive to the sun, then you can pick a sunscreen with an SPF number all the way up to 100. However. most people do well at around 30.

It is also important that your sunscreen block ultraviolet A which is the non-burning rays that penetrate window glass and also penetrate deep into the skin causing aging, wrinkles, loss of elasticity, as well as skin cancer. You can be sure that your sunscreen contains a blocker for ultraviolet A if it says that it is "broad spectrum."

The only reason one would need to look at sunscreen ingredients would be if you were allergic to one of them and experiencing a rash, or if the sunscreen was causing stinging or burning of your eyes. The best sunscreen ingredients for those with sensitive skin or skin allergy to sunscreen, or those who experience eye irritation, is titanium oxide or zinc oxide. These are often referred to as "chemical free" or "sensitive skin" sunscreens. They may leave a slight whitish film on your skin, but they are very effective.

Neutrogena is the most popular sunscreen brand recommended by dermatologists. However, most brands or generic sunscreens will work just fine if you follow the advice about picking the right SPF (30 or above) and picking one that blocks both ultraviolet A and B (broad spectrum).

Ask our experts your health question(s).