Who needs sunscreen? Everybody in the Triangle! Experts advise smoothing it on whether you're boating all day at Jordan Lake or taking an afternoon stroll around Cameron Village.


Studies show that daily sunscreen use reduces sunburn as well
as signs of premature aging like wrinkles, spots and leathery skin. In addition, it lessens the risk of precancerous skin growths as well as skin cancer.


Dermatologists recommend generously applying a water-resistant, broad-spectrum sunscreen. Use one with an SPF of 30 or higher that protects against both types of ultraviolet radiation, UVA and UVB.


To ensure the most effective protection, smear on enough sunscreen to cover all exposed skin. For most adults, this is about one ounce, or enough to fill a shot glass. Rub it on 15 minutes before sun exposure and reapply every two hours, when outdoors, or after swimming or sweating.


There's a wide range of sunscreen products on the market today. You'll find lotions, sprays, gels and creams. When shopping, your choices can feel overwhelming. How to know what to buy?


Any formulation that meets the requirements above is fine. After that, it's simple: Choose the form you're most likely to use. If you'd like more guidance, check out the American Academy of Dermatology's handy advice in "The Sunscreen Two-Step," which follows.


Some people hesitate to use sunscreen because of allegations that the coverage is a health hazard. Wrong, says Henry W. Lim, M.D., president of the national organization of skin doctors.


"The American Academy of Dermatology wants to emphasize that sunscreen remains a safe, effective form of sun protection," notes Lim. "As one component of a daily sun-protection strategy, sunscreen is an important tool in the fight against skin cancer, including melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.


"Current scientific data does not support claims that sunscreen ingredients are toxic or a hazard to human health. Rather, evidence supports the benefits of applying sunscreen to minimize short- and long-term damage to the skin from the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays."


"Sunscreen products contain one or more active drug ingredients–compounds that absorb, scatter or reflect UV light–and are regulated as over-the-counter drugs by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The FDA has several safety and effectiveness regulations in place that govern the manufacture and marketing of all sunscreen products."


In addition, practice solar safety by limiting your exposure to the rays, seeking shade and wearing protective clothing, hats and sunglasses.


The Sunscreen Two-Step
You've decided to shield yourself against the rays. Super! Now, what to buy? Here's a two-step guide.


    Step 1: Use a sunscreen that offers all these essentials:
  • SPF 30 (or higher)
  • Broad-spectrum protection (UVA/UVB)
  • Water resistance


Step 2: Consider your skin type and condition.
Think about your skin's unique needs and where you want to apply the sunscreen.


Acne-prone skin: Look for the words "non-comedogenic" or "won't clog pores."


Allergy-prone skin: Avoid sunscreen that contains fragrance, PABA, parabens or oxybenzone (benzophenone-2, benzophenone-3, diosybenzone, mexenone, sulisobenzone or sulisobenzone sodium).


Around your eyes: Use a sunscreen stick to prevent product from dripping into your eyes. Make sure the stick has an SPF 30 (or higher), broad-spectrum protection and water resistance.


Children: Use a sunscreen made for kids. Most contain zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.


Dry skin: Look for "moisturizing" or "dry skin" on the label


Lips: Use lip balm with SPF 30+ and broad-spectrum protection.


Oily skin: Look for the words "non-comedogenic" or "won't clog pores."


Olive to dark skin: Use sunscreen with a tint to prevent a white residue from forming on your skin.


Rosacea: Use a sunscreen that contains only zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Many formulations for children contain only these two ingredients.


Sensitive skin: Use a sunscreen with the words "sensitive skin" on the label. Avoid products with fragrance, parabens or oxybenzone (benzophenone-2, benzophenone-3, diosybenzone, mexenone, sulisobenzone or sulisobenzone sodium).


Skin stings or burns when you apply sunscreen: Use a sunscreen that contains only zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Kid stuff often uses only these two ingredients. Avoid products with fragrance.