An Ounce of Prevention: A Guide to Sunscreen

An Ounce of Prevention: A Guide to Sunscreen

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One of the topics discussed daily in a dermatology office is sunscreen. When the subject is brought up patients often look down at the floor and say “well, to be honest, I don’t use it”, or “It just wasn’t something our parents taught us to use.” Some patients will avoid answering by saying “which one do you recommend?”, or “what is the best SPF?” To help answer these questions I have devoted our first blog entry to a sunscreen guide.

Why use Sunscreen?

Because your dermatologist told you to? Well yes but that recommendation is supported by scientific evidence.

  • Skin Cancer Prevention: The Journal of Clinical Oncology published a study in 2011 that showed regular sunscreen use reduced the incidence of melanoma by 50-73%.
  • Sunburn Prevention: A study by Han, Laden, and Qureshi in 2014 concluded that 5 or more blistering sunburns between ages 15-20 increases one’s risk of developing melanoma by 80% and nonmelanoma skin cancer by 68%.
  • Preventing Premature Aging: It is the number one product you can use to prevent premature aging. A new study in the Journal of Dermatologic Surgery showed that sunscreen can even reverse wrinkles and photoaging.

How often should I use sunscreen?

Apply sunscreen daily to any sun-exposed area. So for me, that means my daily routine starts with applying sunscreen to my face, neck, ears, chest, forearms, and hands. Yes, even on overcast Southern Illinois winter days. My all-time favorite is EltaMD® Clear. This sunscreen has an SPF of 46, it is a physical and a chemical barrier and contains the following active ingredients which are great for your skin’s health: Niacinamide, Hyaluronic Acid, Vitamin E, Zinc Oxide, Antioxidants, and Lactic Acid. Not only is EltaMD® Clear my favorite sunscreen it is the number one product I recommend during all of my anti-aging cosmetic consults. The icing on the cake, it also comes in a tinted version!

What about when I am outdoors being active?

When outdoors, the first application should be 20 mins before sun exposure then apply again approximately every two hours, or after swimming or sweating, according to the directions on the bottle. For days I need to apply sunscreen to a larger surface area and when I will be active I use EltaMD® Sport SPF 50 which is water-resistant. It comes in a larger 6 oz pump bottle for quick application.

Which sunscreen should I buy?

I tell my patients the best type of sunscreen is the one you will use. Look for one that meets the following requirements, it is broad-spectrum (UVA and UVB) protection, has an SPF of 30 or higher and is water-resistant, one of the active ingredients should be either Zinc or Titanium dioxide. You need to use approximately one ounce per application so buy one that you won’t be afraid to use generously. I already mentioned the EltaMD® product line but I also want to share my recommendations for sunscreens you can find at Walmart or Target. My top choice is Babyganics mineral based 50 SPF and another one of my favorites is Blue Lizard Mineral-based 30 SPF. These are the two sunscreens I carry in my boat and apply to my children every 2 hours while in the sun.

New Habit Now

So now that your sunscreen questions have been answered its time to create a daily habit that will reduce your chances of developing skin cancer, and prevent premature aging. Studies show that it only takes 21 days to develop a new habit so get started today to be summer ready!

Be sure to like our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Later this month I will be discussing other Skin Cancer Prevention Recommendations.

For your convenience, we carry EltaMD® products at our Mt. Vernon location, mention this blog and receive 15% off an EltaMD® product of your choice.

Call 618-244-0031 to schedule your annual skin exam with one of our dermatology providers.


Natalie Amason has been a Certified Family Nurse Practitioner since 2014 and has extensive knowledge of medical and cosmetic dermatology. She is accepting new adult and pediatric patients.






Green A, Williams G, Strutton G. Reduced Melanoma After Regular Sunscreen Use: Randomized trial follow-Up. Journal of Clinical Oncology; 2011 29 (3); 257-63

Randhawa M, Wang S, Leyden J, Cula G, Pagnoni A, Southall M. Daily Use of a Facial Broad Spectrum Sunscreen Over One- Year Significantly Improved Clinical Evaluation of Photoaging. Dermatologic Surgery; 42 (12); 1354-1361

Wu S, Han J, Laden F, Qureshi AA. Long-term ultraviolet flux, other potential risk factors, and skin cancer risk: a cohort study. Cancer Epidemiol Biomar Prev; 2014. 23(6); 1080-1089