Summer is just around the corner and we are all going to be spending a lot more time in the sun. And protecting yourself from sunburn is key to avoiding skin cancer.
But a new report by the Environmental Working Group is raising questions about sunscreen.
The study found that about 14 percent (215) of the 1,500 beach and sport sunscreens tested actually work well enough to protect your skin.
So how do you pick the right one? We asked an expert at UVM Medical Center.
"Maybe a little bit over the top and maybe a little bit of hype," said Dr. Glenn Goldman, UVM Medical Center.
Goldman wants you to know that it's easy to protect yourself from the suns rays even though recent research by the Environmental Working Group questioned how effective sunscreens are.
"My own experience is that most of the commonly used sunscreens do work pretty well," said Goldman.
He says major brands you get at the department store or the grocery store are usually just fine. It's how you apply them that makes the big difference.
"If you apply it like this (does light flick) then you aren't going to get much effect. But if you take that sunscreen and carefully lather it on you, make sure that it's in good shape that is going to provide you with a better protection," said Goldman.
The EWG study also flagged sunscreen sprays as problematic. Dr. Goldman says that's because they tend to be less durable.
"If you have a spray, it's generally in an alcohol base which makes it easier to put on. That also makes it easy to wash off," said Goldman.
So he says he sprays it on his hands and spreads it like regular sunscreen. And reapplies often.
And what about sunscreens offering anti-aging ingredients like retinol? The Environmental Working Group report says they could actually make you more susceptible to sun damage and possible skin cancer. Goldman says there's just not enough research into how all the ingredients interact and its best to keep your anti-aging creams for nighttime use.
"I generally tell people if they are going to be outside for an extended period of time they just stick to a basic sunscreen," said Goldman.
Sport sunscreens are generally thicker and designed to stay put longer offering more consistent protection. But he says two of the best ways to protect yourself don't involve sunscreen. You can stay out of the sun during midday and wear clothes to cover your skin and don't forget a hat and sunglasses.
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