So you've embraced the importance of using sunscreen to help prevent both photoaging of your skin and even skin cancer. And you understand the two simple sunscreen criteria to look for to get the best protection: an SPF of at least 15 and broad spectrum UVA protection. Great! Then it's off to the sunscreen aisle to buy your sunscreen. Easy... Almost... Do you get a Lotion? Cream? Spray? Gel? Towellets? Pads? Today I'll help you through this last decision in choosing the best sunscreen for you.
The sunscreen aisle has a dizzying array of vehicles that the actual sun protective ingredients are dissolved in... including Lotions, Creams, Sprays, Gels, Toweletts, and Pads. And sunscreens with the same SPF when used properly offer the same level of protection regardless of the vehicle. So what's the advantages of each?
Let's start with sunscreen lotions. They're all about spreadability... It's much easier, faster and more economical to apply a lotion all over your body than any other vehicle, except a spray. And lotions can also have moisturizers, so you get both sun protection and a moisturizer from one product. Oh by the way... no one's ever been arrested for using a body lotion on their face, if you like how it feels.
But since I mentioned sprays, lets deal with them now. The bottom line is I don't recommend them. Sprays are popular because of their convenience, ease of use and their almost invisible finish... you can't see them and can barely feel them. And that's just the problem: Because you can't see or feel them, you don't know whether you've missed parts of your skin, especially areas on your back and the sides of your body. Amongst sunscreen users, I see the worst sunburns in people who use sprays and unbeknownst to them, miss areas.
Cream sunscreens are richer and more emollient than lotions and are very popular for the face, but because they are not as easy to spread over large areas, they're not suitable for the body. But they are a great way to get extra moisturization and sun protection for your face at the same time.
Sunscreen gels are useful for your face if you have oily, acne prone or combination skin since they are very light weight, finish invisibly so you can't feel them, and won't clog pores or cause breakouts in acne prone skin on your face, back or chest. They, however, are not suitable for dry skin.
Sunscreen towelettes and pads are similar to each other. towellettes are used for the body and pads for the face. They are a very quick and convenient way to apply sunscreen if you like light weight products and don't need a moisturizer, especially in acne prone areas. They finish invisible to the touch and are great for active people since if you sweat, they won't run into your eyes. And last, they are perfect for toddlers who resist application of creams and lotions... just give them the pad, make a game out of it, and then you finish up making sure all needed areas are covered.
So now you know everything you need to know to buy your sunscreen.
And after you buy it... Please use it! It doesn't work in the bottle!