associated press file photo
So you don’t like the feel of sand stuck in your sun lotion? Maybe you have an aversion to chemical ingredients, oils or the scent of faux coconut. Sorry, not valid excuses for skipping sunscreen any more.
This year there are a dozen sunscreen applications to choose from — sprays, dry oils, powders and even wipes— and many with new, more effective ingredient “cocktails” that promise to protect better than ever.
And most of them work when used properly, says Dr. Amy Wechsler, a Manhattan dermatologist who serves as a member of The American Academy of Dermatology and The Skin Cancer Foundation.
Many of the newer ingredients target UVA rays. UVA rays are farther away and weaker than UVB rays (those are the kind that make you feel hot), but can dig deeper into the skin and can affect the dermis, Wechsler says.
Consumers might find shopping for a broad-spectrum sunscreen confusing because they’ve been trained to make choices based on sun protection factor or SPF ratings, which only measure protection against UVB rays.
“SPF is a small measurement of UV. There is so much else going on,” says researcher Debbie D’Aquino, Clinique’s vice-president of global product development.
There are some key ingredients to look for:
- Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide: Both natural ingredients that are physical blocks against the rays. They sit on top of the skin and keep the light from penetrating it.
- Parsol 1789, aka avobenzone: One of the most common and effective chemical absorbers of UV light. Unlike blocks, absorbers need 30 minutes before they’ll fully work.
- Chemical absorbers octocrylene and benzophenone: D’Aquino warns the latter can irritate sensitive skin.
- Mexoryl SX: The first new sunscreen filter approved by the FDA in 18 years. It’s considered “photostable,” which means that after exposure to the sun, it maintains its protective ability longer and doesn’t degrade as quickly as other UV filters.
- Helioplex: Used in Neutrogena’s Ultra Sheer Dry Touch Sunscreen, this ingredient combines avobenzone with oxybenzone for a more stable combination that doesn’t lose blocking powers after continued exposure to sunlight.