I’m often asked by patients, friends, and family members what sunscreen I use. I want to share my answer with you and tell you a little bit about my “sunscreen story” to help you understand why I’m such a sun protection advocate.
The warm weather is here and sun protection is the single biggest step you can take to protect yourself and your family from skin cancer. Using a really good sunscreen when you are in the sun is one of the most important steps you can take to protect your skin from skin cancer and sun damage. But, how do you pick “really good sunscreens” for yourself and your family?
Knowing which sunscreens to use and using them has helped me to stave off skin cancer thus far - and I’m at a much higher than average risk. I’ve used sunscreen for more than 30 years, ever since I entered my dermatology residency training program. Before that I was a tanning addicted sun lover. When I was a teen and young adult, I had two worrisome skin tumors (called Spitz Nevi), which grew during my tanning addiction days. I also now know that I carry the BRCA mutation (for breast and ovarian cancer), which puts me at greater than average risk for melanoma skin cancer. Add to that the fact that non-BRCA mutation family members of mine also have a strong history of melanoma and I know that I’m very uniquely “blessed” with a high risk of melanoma. Believe me, I’m motivated to find the best sunscreens and keep the sun off my skin!
I’ve critically scrutinized evolving sunscreen scientific advances over the years for both personal and professional reasons. My patients depend on it and I know that my health depends on it too. I want to help you learn how to pick from the hundreds of sunscreen products with all the associated advertising hype, so that you and your family also use ONLY the best sunscreens – ones that I know really work.
My assessment is that the mineral zinc oxide products work the best and give the most trustworthy broad spectrum UV protection. That’s why I personally use only zinc oxide sunscreens and they are exclusively what I recommend for my patients. In particular, I trust high-concentration pure zinc oxide products (over 17%) and products with the zinc oxide at a minimum of 5% combined with octinoxate. I’ve seen these products work over and over again; while I have seen others fail.
These 30 years of good sun protection have paid off in dividends for me and I want to help you reap the same benefits. In addition to helping protect against skin cancer, using a broad spectrum zinc oxide sunscreen every day will also help keep your skin looking healthy and attractive too. Honestly, my skin looks less sun damaged today, in my 55th year, than it did when I was in my 20′s – so no more skin tumors since I started diligently using daily sunscreen and a reversal of the signs of skin aging and sun damage – those are the potential benefits of using sunscreen and why I’m such a fan of zinc oxide in particular. More good news is that skin care product manufactures have worked hard in the past 30 years to make zinc oxide products elegant for you to use and invisible when rubbed onto your skin.
“I’m a scientist and I observed how well the Citrix works as a sunscreen.” Anonymous
“I was on vacation at the beach and put Citrix on my hands but a regular sunscreen with SPF 50 everywhere else. You can see where the Citrix ended because beyond that I’m tan and my age spots are darker. I didn’t get burned but I got brown. The Citrix works so much better.” Anonymous
Here are the sunscreen products that I rely on for my own very fair (Fitzpatrick type 2) skin
Suntegrity BB Cream 5 in 1 Tinted Pure (20%) Zinc Oxide SPF 30 Sunscreen. I wear this natural product on my face every day and I am constantly complimented on how nice my complexion looks – I know it’s partly the Suntegrity BB Cream.
Citrix SPF 40 Water-Resistant Sunscreen with 7% zinc oxide and 7.5% octinoxate. I wear Citrix every day on my ears, neck, chest, and back of my hands. Sometimes I wear it on my face instead of the Suntegrity BB Cream and until Suntegrity came on the scene a few years ago, I wore Citrix on my face every day. I’ve used it for more years than I can remember and I both love and trust this product. It is also my husband’s very favorite sunscreen.
Raw Elements Eco Formula SPF 30 pure 23% zinc oxide sunscreen. I wear this tenacious high-performance sunscreen when I need a product that I can’t budge, rub, or easily wash off my skin. Those are times when I garden, swim, or hike. I apply this high-performance product to all the parts of my skin not covered by Coolibar Sun Protective Clothing. I, of course, wear a hat or swim cap too.
Solbar Zinc SPF 38 Water Resistant Sunscreenwith 7.5% zinc oxide and octinoxate and 10% homosalate. I’ve used Solbar Zinc for as long as I’ve used Citrix. My kids grew up wearing Solbar Zinc every day too. It spreads easily and rubs in invisibly. I’m more likely to use Solbar Zinc on my legs or arms because the product slides easily over larger areas of skin and it’s a very economical product of the highest quality.
I also use my UV Detecto Ring to test my guesstimates of when I’m UV exposed. That little ring of UV sensing beads has colored up when I least expected it – and I’m a sun exposure geek! Take home message is that sunscreen goes on first thing in the morning before you start your day!
Want more info on how to pick the best sunscreen for yourself?