Decoding Sunscreen Label Language

sunscreen-new-ratingsUnderstanding the fine print on a sunscreen bottle can be tricky. Here are some helpful hints for decoding the important information you need to know when choosing and applying your sunscreen…

Active Ingredients – If it is a mineral sunscreen the active ingredient is titanium dioxide, zinc oxide or both. The SPF number indicates the level of protection you are receiving from UVB rays (sunburn), it does not indicate the level of protection from UVA rays (wrinkles and skin cancer).

Application – If you are using a cream, you should use a shot glass worth on your body and a teaspoon on your face every two hours. If it is a spray, apply in zigzag formations until you glisten and then rub it in. Always assume that reapplying is necessary. For prolonged exposure, a cream SPF should be applied first, sprays, and sticks used for reapplication.

Inactive Ingredients – These contain everything not listed in the formula, such as hypoallergenic for sensitive skin and oil-free or non-comedogenic for break out prone sunbathers and more…

Expiration Date – Once a bottle is open, it is good for two to three years regardless of the expiration date listed on the bottle. However, if a bottle lasts you too long then we suspect you are not using enough for yourself!

Safety – Mineral sunscreens are ideal for children, as they are chemical free and do not pose a danger if accidentally tasted. Only an SPF 30 or higher sunscreen labeled “broad spectrum” protects from both UVA and UVB. Any SPF less than 30 is a joke.

“Water Resistant” – For sunbathers that brave the water and swim, the new FDA labels clarifies “water-resistant” means that you are receiving protection for up to 40 minutes. Extra water-resistant labels cover you for up to 80 minutes. No label can read “water-proof” because no sunscreen is truly resistant to water.

Reading The Fine Print – Chemical sunscreen say “30 minutes to work”. This means that it takes 30 minutes for you to receive complete protection before you are undergoing the sun’s rays. If you are impatient, or forgetful and do not trust yourself to do this then mineral sunscreens work immediately and are the better option for you.

It is always important to be knowledgeable of what you put in and on your body. We are a reflection of how we treat ourselves and sun protection is vital to keeping the skin youthful and luminous. Sunscreen jargon is not consumer friendly and it is important to understand the proper use and safety of any brand of sunscreen. We truly hope these tips have been helpful and shape how you choose and use your sunscreen!


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