3 sunscreen buying tips to help protect your skin this summer

Summertime living may be easy, but when it comes to sunscreen protection, picking one that is safe may be harder than you thought.

Prevent Cancer Now's science advisor and co-chair offers some advice to make buying sunscreen easier

Prevent Cancer Now's science advisor and co-chair Meg Sears says cream sunscreens are better for children than sprays.

Summertime living may be easy, but when it comes to sunscreen protection, picking one that is safe may be harder than you thought.

Prevent Cancer Now's science advisor and co-chair Meg Sears offered three sunscreen tips to help keep your family safe in the sun during hot summer months.

1. Select a sunscreen that's opaque.

Sunscreens can contain ingredients such as oxybenzone, which some studies suggest may cause changes to cells. The Canadian Cancer Society says there is no evidence linking it to cancer but Sears says the best sunscreens use zinc in particle sizes that are large enough to make you look pale when you put it on. 

2. Stay away from spray.

A lot of parents use sunscreen sprays rather than creams on their children because it's much easier to apply than a lotion. But Sears says sprays can be inhaled and be harmful to lungs. Use cream sunscreens instead — and remember to reapply often. Frequent reapplication is more important than the SPF number on the sunscreen bottle.

3. Avoid sunscreens that smell.

You may love to breathe in the smell of coconut or cucumber or lavender but reactions to sunscreens with fragrances can range from annoyance, to breathing difficulties and headaches.

Meanwhile, the Canadian Cancer Society says ingredients in sunscreen are not known to cause cancer, and sunscreens themselves are a very important part of sun safety — along with shade, clothing, hats and sunglasses.

When it comes to buying a sunscreen, it advises choosing a sunscreen that is:

  1. SPF 15 or higher. If you work outdoors or are planning to be outside for a long time, then use an SPF 30.
  2. Broad spectrum.
  3. Water resistant.

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