Sunscreen Advice From Toronto Dermatologist

beach shot with sunscreen

Sunscreen – What you need to know.

A common question we are now asked is “what is the difference between a Chemical Block and a Physical Block?” Physical sunscreens protect your skin from the sun by deflecting or blocking the sun’s rays using ingredients such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Physical sunscreens work immediately once applied. Chemical sunscreens work by either absorbing the sun’s rays. Chemical sunscreens must be applied 20 minutes before exposure to the sun and you should be applying approximately 1oz. per body part. Both types of sunscreens need to be reapplied every 2 hours and after swimming or sweating.

A few things are important to understand in order to make your selection; the sun’s rays can be divided into 2 types: Ultraviolet A (UVA) rays and Ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. UVB rays have a shorter wavelength and are more significant in the summer causing sunburns that we are most familiar with. An easy way to remember this is B = BURN. The UVB rays are also cancer causing. UVA rays have a longer wavelength penetrating more deeply into the skin, causing premature aging, wrinkles, brown spots, and worse increasing the risk of skin cancer including melanoma. An easy way to remember this ray is A = Aging. Be sure to choose a sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB , “broad-spectrum” as they are now called and make sure it has a SPF of 30 or higher.

So what’s the bottom line? There is no one best sunscreen for everyone, the best one will be the one that you apply and reapply every day.

DrA recognized leader in cosmetic dermatology with over 27 years experience, Fred Weksberg is Canadian and US Board Certified Dermatologist. He holds staff positions at three hospitals and is part of the Executive for the Canadian Society for Dermatologic Surgery.

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