Choosing the Right Sunscreen

Summer brings us outside to enjoy the pleasures and benefits of the great outdoors. We can protect ourselves against skin cancer, one of the twelve major cancers, but faced with the wide array of products lining pharmacy shelves, just what should we be looking for in our choice of a sunscreen product?

Health Canada has set strict rules for companies distributing sunscreen formulations. These rules address the level of protection, allowed ingredients, concentrations, and recommended applications. Labelling must address the dangers of using any sunscreen with an SPF of less than 15, as such products must contain the statement “Skin Cancer/Skin Aging Alert: Spending time in the sun increases your risk of skin cancer and early skin aging.  This product has been shown to only help prevent sunburn, not skin cancer or skin aging.”

Any product with an SPF greater that 50 must be labelled SPF 50+. There is not adequate data indicating that SPF of greater than 50 offers more protection than SPF 50. Higher SPF’s may give consumers a false sense of protection from the sun.

The Canadian Dermatology Association guidelines suggest the following measures to prevent sunburns and reduce the risk of future skin cancers:

  • Limit sun exposure between 11:00 am and 4:00 pm. Keep children out of the sun between noon and 2:00 pm.
  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat and always apply sunscreen to the ears, back of neck and entire face.
  • Plan activities in the shade and teach children how to recognize where the shade is.
  • Use an SPF of 30 or higher.

As you choose your sunscreen product, important factors to consider are SPF, Broad Spectrum protection (UVA & UVB), ingredients, age, and medications you may be taking that may impact sun-sensitivity, such as certain antibiotics, diuretics, antidepressants and acne drugs.

Your Super Thrifty pharmacist has a great deal of knowledge concerning the wide variety of products available. We can help you select the appropriate sunscreen products for you and your family.

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