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Sunscreen Label Decoded

By Author: Fletcher Rich
Total Articles: 8

You have heard over and over again about the importance of slathering on a high spf sunscreen all over your body every single time you leave the house. Protecting your skin from harmful UVA and UVB rays is key to keeping skin cancer at bay. If you take a quick look at any sunscreen label, though, you are more than likely to be a bit confused. Here is a guide that may help you decode the label a bit.

New FDA Labeling

It is important to note that just because you have spend time decoding your sunscreen label in the past, you’re not off the hook here. The FDA put new sunscreen labeling procedures into effect just last year, so understanding what to look for before you go to the store is a must.


One of the first things you are going to see listed on the sunscreen label is the ingredients. You’re likely to see two categories of these: inactive and active ingredients. The active ingredients are what actually makes the sunscreen work, known as UV filters. The inactive ingredients are add-ons for various reasons; depends if it is a lotion, cream, stick, etc. Spray sunscreens tend to contain benzyl alcohol because it makes them easier to spray onto your skin (dangerous if inhaled).

The active ingredients are easily what you should care most about on a bottle of sunscreen. This is where it will tell you whether your choice is a physical or chemical sunscreen and whether it truly offers broad spectrum protection against the sun’s rays. If you see chemicals like avobenzone listed, you know you have a chemical blocker on your hands. That means the sun’s rays enter your skin, then are blocked by a chemical reaction between the UV rays and avobenzone. If you see minerals like zinc oxide listed, you have a physical blocker on your hands. That means the sun’s rays never actually get a chance to enter your skin and reflect off acting like a million tiny mirrors.


There is also a section for uses on your sunscreen’s label. In most cases, they all say they are used to help prevent sunburn, which is not a broad spectrum sunscreen. Sunscreens that claim broad spectrum have gone through the proper testing and can decrease the risk of skin cancer.

Additional Information

In addition to the ingredients and uses, you should also see the directions for application, any other information you need to know about the product itself, and a number to call if you have questions. Pay careful attention to the directions, as they can help tell you when you will need to reapply the sunscreen if you truly want to protect your skin.

Article Source: ForTheLifeofYourSkin.com

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