It is critical to choose a sunscreen with broad-spectrum or multi-spectrum protection for both UVA and UVB. Sunscreen products are rated by their “sun protection factor” (SPF). This rates how well the sunscreen protects against one type of cancer causing UV ray, ultraviolet B (UVB.) UVA rays do not cause the skin to burn, but do increase the risk of skin cancer and are largely responsible for the wrinkles associated with prolonged sun exposure.
For the vast majority of people, SPF 15 is fine. People who have very fair skin, a family history of skin cancer, or other conditions like Lupus that increase sensitivity to sunlight should consider SPF 30 or higher.
Keep in mind that the higher the SPF, the smaller the increased benefit: contrary to what you might think, SPF 30 isn’t twice as strong as SPF 15. While SPF 15 filters out 93% of UVB, SPF 30 filters out 97%. Generally, the cost of sunscreen products increases with the higher SPF rating.
The sensitive skin of babies and children is easily irritated by chemicals found in adult sunscreens, so avoid sunscreens with para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA),sulisobenzone, oxybenzone or dioxybenzone. Children’s sunscreens use ingredients less likely to irritate the skin, like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide.