Choose right sunscreen; not all are created equal

by Jay Scherder, KY3 News


2:55 PM EDT, May 29, 2012


SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Choosing the right sunscreen may be more difficult than you think.  It may seem like a no-brainer, but, before you hit the beach, you should know all sunscreens are not created equal.

"When you look at a label and it says SPF, that only refers to UVB protection."

Mercy Hospital dermatologist Dr. Jennifer Insley says suncreen should have broad spectrum protection.

"If you don't get one that says broad spectrum, then you are missing out on the UVA portion of it," said Insley.

UVB rays can give you that annoying sunburn. UVA rays penetrate deeper resulting in the aging of the skin. Both contribute to skin cancer.

"The average sized person should use a shot glass to cover the exposed parts of their body," said Insley. 

Sunscreen will soon no longer say water proof--new labels will help determine just how long your protection will last when you are wet.

"They will now say water resistant or very water resistant. If they last 40 minutes they are water resistant. If they last 80 minutes, they are very water resistant."

There is also a controversy surrounding two chemicals in sunscreen -- retinyl palmitate and oxybenzone.

"The FDA has approved oxybenzone since the '70s, I think.  It's been safe.  It's been around for a lot of years. It hasn't had problems," Insley said.

But, according to the Environmental Working Group, oxybenzone causes hormone disruption. Retinyl palmitate, meanwhile, creates a higher risk for skin cancer.

Insley says there isn't enough research to be scared just yet.

If you don't like looking at labels, there is a good way to cheat.  Look for a seal of approval on the bottle that says American Cancer Society or the Skin Cancer Foundation.