The sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays can be damaging to our skin. Too much exposure to these rays can cause sunburn, premature aging, and even skin cancer. Sunscreen is one of the most effective ways to protect your skin from the harmful effects of the sun.

What is Sunscreen?

Sunscreen is a product that helps to prevent sunburn by blocking the sun's UV rays. It comes in many different forms, such as lotions, creams, sprays, and gels. Sunscreen can also be found in other products, such as moisturizers and makeup.

How Does Sunscreen Work?

Sunscreen works by either absorbing the sun's UV rays or reflecting them away from the skin. Chemical sunscreens absorb the UV rays, while physical sunscreens reflect them. Combination sunscreens contain both chemical and physical ingredients.

Types of Sunscreens

There are three main types of sunscreens: chemical, physical, and combination.

Chemical Sunscreens

Chemical sunscreens work by absorbing the sun's UV rays. The active ingredients in chemical sunscreens can include avobenzone, octinoxate, and oxybenzone. Chemical sunscreens tend to be lightweight and are easy to apply.

Physical Sunscreens

Physical sunscreens work by reflecting the sun's UV rays. They contain active ingredients such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Physical sunscreens tend to be thicker and may leave a white cast on the skin.

Combination Sunscreens

Combination sunscreens contain both chemical and physical ingredients. They offer the benefits of both types of sunscreens.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Sunscreen

When choosing a sunscreen, there are several factors to consider:


SPF stands for sun protection factor. It measures the level of protection the sunscreen provides against UVB rays, which cause sunburn. The higher the SPF, the more protection the sunscreen provides.

Broad-Spectrum Protection

Broad-spectrum protection means that the sunscreen protects against both UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays can cause premature aging, while UVB rays cause sunburn.

Water Resistance

Water-resistant sunscreens are essential if you plan on spending time in the water or sweating. Look for sunscreens that are labeled as "water-resistant" and reapply every two hours.

Skin Type

Consider your skin type when choosing a sunscreen. If you have sensitive skin, look for sunscreens that are fragrance-free and hypoallergenic. If you have oily skin, look for lightweight, non-greasy formulas.

Active Ingredients

The active ingredients in sunscreen can vary. Some people may be allergic to certain ingredients, so it's important to read the label carefully before purchasing.

How to Apply Sunscreen Properly

To ensure that you are getting the most protection from your sunscreen, it's essential to apply it properly. Here are some tips:
  • Apply sunscreen 15-30 minutes before going outside.
  • Use enough sunscreen to cover all exposed skin.
  • Reapply sunscreen every two hours or after swimming or sweating.
  • Don't forget to apply sunscreen to your ears, neck, and hands.

Common Misconceptions About Sunscreen

There are several misconceptions about sunscreen that people may have. Here are a few:

"I Don't Need Sunscreen on Cloudy Days."

UV rays can penetrate through clouds, so it's still important to wear sunscreen even on cloudy days.

"Sunscreen Causes Vitamin D Deficiency."

While sunscreen can block some UVB rays, it doesn't completely eliminate them. People can still get enough vitamin D through a healthy diet and limited sun exposure.

"Higher SPF Means Better Protection."

While higher SPF sunscreens do provide more protection, they don't offer 100% protection. It's still important to reapply sunscreen regularly and seek shade during the hottest parts of the day.

Why Sunscreen is Important

Using sunscreen regularly can have several benefits for your skin:

Protects Against Skin Cancer

Sunscreen can help protect against skin cancer, which is the most common type of cancer in the United States.

Prevents Premature Aging

UV rays can cause premature aging, such as wrinkles and age spots. Sunscreen can help prevent these signs of aging.

Helps Maintain an Even Skin Tone

UV rays can cause hyperpigmentation, which can lead to uneven skin tone. Using sunscreen regularly can help prevent this.


Using sunscreen regularly is essential to protect your skin from the harmful effects of the sun. When choosing a sunscreen, consider factors such as SPF, broad-spectrum protection, water resistance, and your skin type. Don't forget to apply sunscreen properly and reapply regularly. By using sunscreen, you can help prevent skin cancer, premature aging, and maintain an even skin tone.


Can sunscreen expire?
Yes, sunscreen can expire. Look for an expiration date on the label and replace it if it's expired.

Can I still get a tan if I wear sunscreen?
Yes, you can still get a tan while wearing sunscreen. Sunscreen helps protect against sunburn, but it doesn't completely block UV rays.

Can I use last year's sunscreen?
It's best to replace sunscreen every year to ensure that it's still effective.

Can I use sunscreen on my baby?
Yes, but make sure to use a sunscreen that's specifically formulated for babies and young children.

Can I wear sunscreen under makeup?
Yes, sunscreen can be worn under makeup. Look for a lightweight, non-greasy formula that won't affect the application of your makeup.