Moms

How to Choose the Right Sunscreen

A recent study found that about 40% of common sunscreens tested do not adhere to the guidelines set by the Academy of Dermatology.
A recent study found that about 40% of common sunscreens tested do not adhere to the guidelines set by the Academy of Dermatology. Getty Images/iStockphoto

Sometimes I am paralyzed by information overload. I often stand in the grocery store trying to recall the “dirty 12” and the “clean 15” when it comes to fruits and veggies, I lose sleep second-guessing parenting choices, and when choosing sunscreen I am confused to the point of locking the kids in the house and out of the sun.

So that’s why the results of a recent study sent to me by Dr. Kevin Smith of Charlotte Plastic Surgery got to me. The study, from the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that about 40% of common sunscreens tested do not adhere to the guidelines set by the Academy of Dermatology. What?!

While I was surprised and a bit dismayed, Dr. Smith apparently wasn’t. He finds that consumers often look for the most recognizable brand or tend to purchase brands due to the design of the bottle or marketing claims, similar to what the study found. Guilty as charged….I am a sucker for cute looking bottle.

So what’s a mom to do when it comes to sun protection?

A friend recommended using the Environmental Working Group’s annual guide to sunscreen as a go-to for choosing sunscreen. It’s got a user-friendly rating system as well as lists of their top picks. Here are my new go-tos:

Best sunscreens for kids: https://www.ewg.org/sunscreen/best-kids-sunscreens/

Best moisturizers with SPF: https://www.ewg.org/sunscreen/best-sunscreens/best-moisturizers-with-spf/

Dr. Smith also always urges consumers and patients to check that the sunscreens have adequate protection against UVA, UVA and infrared rays (IR-A rays). He also recommends people remember to reapply every two hours but if they are in and out of the pool, lake or ocean they should reapply every 30 minutes.

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