What's the Best Sunscreen?

Hope you can give me tips on what are the most effective sunscreens.  Sunscreens are expensive so your help is very appreciated.

Doctor Answers 6

Particular sunscreens I like are the truly broadspectrum...

Particular sunscreens I like are the truly broadspectrum ones - they block the UVA and UVB light.

The first one I like and that I wear everyday is Anthelios by La Roche-Posay. It's really nice because it has the moisturizer with the sunscreen. So for many people, this sunscreen kills two birds with one stone.

Now Anthelios is not waterproof, so that’s not my beach-day sunscreen or the sunscreen I use when I am working out and perspiring heavily or doing water activities. Before those activities, I use Neutrogena with Helioplex. Helioplex is also broad-spectrum, which is their terminology for their ingredients that provide UVA and UVB coverage.

There are some sunscreens for more sensitive skin individuals. I like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide: they have the ability to be a physical blocker that sit on top of the skin and prevent sunlight from coming through.

I find that people who are very sensitive to chemicals can still use Anthelios and Neutrogena with Helioplex, but for people who are super sensitive, and I’d recommend a zinc oxide or titanium dioxide cream.

MD Forte has a line that’s more office-dispensed, and Blue Lizard would be one that is over-the-counter.

For so long, we were hitting the UVB pretty well, and that's what the SPF talks about. Well, we now know that UVA is just as bad as UVB, and maybe even worse. It can increase signs of aging and also can lead to skin cancer over the long haul. So, you really need protection from both, and that's where we have that misnomer that "Oh, I have a high SPF, and I'm covered with UVA." Well, no, that covers UVB, not UVA, so these newer sunscreens, the Anthelios and the Neutrogena with Helioplex, are really good broad-spectrum sunscreens.

New Jersey Dermatologist
3.0 out of 5 stars 2 reviews

Most Effective Sunscreen

Unfortunately, there is no absolutely correct answer as there are many effective options on the aesthetic market.  However, there are a couple of essential components to look for.  Make sure the product covers for UV-A, B, and C ultraviolet spectrum.  The sunscreen should be hypoallergenic and not cause exacerbation of acne or other skin condition such as eczema.  The sunscreen should resist water and sweat and contain a high SPF factor so that reapplication is reasonable.  Many patients prefer a sunscreen that can be worn below make-up.  Elta offers these features at a very reasonable price point.

John L. Burns Jr., MD
Dallas Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 42 reviews

Broad Spectrum Sunscreens are Best

The FDA has recently passed regulations on sunscreens and how they're labeled.  Not all sunscreens are created equal, and it is important that you look for a sunscreen that has the label designation of a UVA AND UVB broad spectrum sunscreen.  That will provide you with the best protection from sun damage.  That being said, I recommend SkinCeuticals Sheer Physical and Physical Fusion spf 50 oil-free sunscreens.  They're water and sweat resistant, and the oil-free is great for those that don't want a heavy daily wear sunscreen.

Jeffrey W. Hall, MD
Austin Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 18 reviews

Any sunscreen you use and use often!

Thank you for your question.

Any sunscreen that you use and use often will work well! There are two main types of sunscreen/sunblock: chemical sunscreens and physical sunscreens.

Chemical sunscreens have chemicals that absorb and neutralize the UV rays. These primarily include avobenzone, oxybenzone, and others.

Physical sunscreens block and deflect the UV rays and contain either zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.

Here's a table to help you out:

Common Sunscreen Ingredients:
Ingredient UV Protection Chemical/Physical
Avobenzone UVA Chemical
Oxybenzone UVA & UVB Chemical
Homosalate UVB Chemical
Octocyclene UVA & UVB Chemical
Octinoxate UVB Chemical
Octisalate UVB Chemical
Zinc Oxide UVA & UVB Physical
Titanium Dioxide UVA & UVB Physical

I'm biased towards the physical blockers - there's less risk of allergy and they do an excellent job at protection. They tend to be somewhat thicker though, but there are good brands such as Solar Protection Formula and TIZO3 that are very elegant.

Excellent chemical blockers are LaRoche Posay AntiHelios with Mexoryl and Neutrogena brand with Helioplex.

There are also combination chemical and physical blockers. Simply read the ingredients on any sunblock you are thinking of buying. Anything over SPF 15 is great, but aim for over 30 at the very least.

Hope this helps!

Don Mehrabi, MD
Beverly Hills Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 1 review

Elizabeth Arden Rx Triple Protection Factor SPF 50+ is a good choice for a daily SPF with anti aging protection

Yes, using SPF everyday is okay and advisable. SPF helps prevent skin cancer by blocking or reducing your exposure to harmful UV (ultraviolet) radiation. This also helps prevent signs of aging such as wrinkles and age spots. Newer products such as medical grade SPF by Elizabeth Arden Rx, Triple Protection Factor, Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 50+ with DNA Enzyme Complex and Antioxidants provides sun protection and also anti aging protection to help prevent the negative effects of photo damage to the skin. 

It is excellent that you are taking proactive steps to protect your skin.

David Shafer, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 75 reviews

Drugstore sunscreen will be sufficient. Drugstore...

Drugstore sunscreen will be sufficient.

Drugstore products include a broad spectrum sunscreen, SPF 30 for everyday and a higher number for use at the beach.

Suzanne Friedler, MD
Manhattan Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 1 review

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.