If you need to increase the amount of protection you are giving your skin against the sun in order to reduce the chances of your skin cancer recurring, you can’t just grab something off the shelf and assume it will be the right type of protection for you. There are so many different types now that it can take a while to find something that will work better for you. Here are some terms that people often get confused about or misinterpret; by knowing whether any of these terms describe what you’re looking for, you can find your perfect sun protection in a shorter amount of time.
This is likely one of the most confusing terms in sun protection because it sounds like the risk of an allergic reaction has been eliminated, but that’s not true. Hypoallergenic means there’s a lower risk of a reaction, but it’s still possible to react. Everyone is different; while some people have a problem with the harsher sunscreens from years ago, others never had a problem until the supposedly hypoallergenic ingredients were introduced. If you buy sunscreen, buying something that’s hypoallergenic is fine, of course, but don’t assume that an allergic reaction to the product is impossible.
Sunblock vs. Sunscreen
Both sunblocks and sunscreens accomplish the same purpose — they prevent UV rays from getting to your skin. However, the mode of protection is a bit different. Sunscreens tend to be absorbed into your skin, with the chemicals creating a barrier within your skin. Ingredients tend to have names like octyl methoxycinnamate or avobenzone. In sunblocks, the material lies on top of your skin and literally blocks the UV rays from reaching it. Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are major sunblock ingredients. Many creams use both block and screen ingredients, so always check the label before buying. Blocks tend to be a lot better for people who are allergic to chemical screens.
If you do buy something that is a pure sunblock (i.e., not a mix of block and screen chemicals), try to find something that is tinted. Because the blocks lie on top of your skin, a white cream can make you look extremely pale, like you’re either very sick or wearing some really awful makeup.
Water-resistant just means less likely to disappear immediately when you go swimming. The block or screen hangs on a little longer than a non-water-resistant cream would. However, you’ll still have to reapply the block or screen after a short time. Check the label as each brand has different time ranges.
UPF means ultraviolet protection factor. It’s the cloth equivalent of SPF, the factor you find listed on sunscreen and block bottles. If you prefer to cover up to block UV rays, look for hats and other clothing that have been woven to block out the rays, rather than clothing that’s been treated with sunscreen chemicals. Those chemicals will eventually wash out of the clothing, and if it rains while you’re wearing them, the chemicals could leach out of the clothing and onto your skin. Woven protection can fade, too, but it will take longer as long as you wash the clothing properly.
Wearing sun protection is important, and you now have a choice between creams and fashionable clothing, as well as patterned umbrellas. Experiment a little to find the type of protection that works best for you. To learn more about how to reduce your risk of developing skin cancer, contact a medical center like Countryside Dermatology & Laser Center.