What’s really in a bottle of sunblock anyway?

What to look for when you're choosing sunscreen

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - When the sun comes out, so does the sunblock. Well, it should anyway. Many of us apply the lotion without thinking too much about it, but this expert says we might want to pay closer attention to the ingredients list.

“In particular, we are concerned about ingredients like oxybenzone, which is common in ingredients,” said Dr. David Andrews, the senior scientist for Environmental Working Group.

Dr. Andrews has been studying sunblock for over a decade. And he sees issues with a common ingredient called oxybenzone. He says even the FDA has their eye on it by performing tests with the ingredient to see what it does to your body.

“With even a single application, significant quantities of oxybenzone absorb through the skin and end up in our body where they stay for weeks,” said Dr. Andrews.

Essentially, oxybenzone can enter your bloodstream and stick around inside your body way past the time you actually applied the product. Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean that these types of sunblock are unsafe.

“Most of them have been proven to be pretty safe, but they’re more allergenic,” said Dr. Nicole Harrell, a local dermatologist with the Dermatology Clinic. “So, if you’re allergic to a lot of products, you’re way more likely to be allergic to the chemical sunscreens.”

Dr. Harrell explains there are two types of sunscreen ingredients: chemical blockers and physical blockers. So, if the chemical blockers with ingredients like oxybenzone worry you, then steer toward physical blockers, like sunscreens with zinc and titanium oxides.

“The best sunscreen is one you’re going to wear,” said Dr. Harrell. “So that’s probably the best tip… just pick one you like and wear it consistently.”

These sunscreen experts say to pick a product that lands between 30 SPF and 50 SPF. Below 30 might not give you the best bang for your buck. While an SPF over 50 may give you a false sense of protection. Really, it’s all about reapplying.

“Even people who are good about putting it on daily… They think it lasts all day when it really only lasts a couple of hours,” said Dr. Harrell.

And when it comes to the sunscreen spray versus lotion debate, both of these professionals agree that lotion is the best way to apply your sun protection. With sprays, you run the risk of missing some spots and inhaling the product.

So, explore your options on the store shelves this summer. Don’t be afraid to flip the bottle over to find the product that works best for you.

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