Choosing the right sunscreen

SPOKANE, Wash. - Fourth of July weekend is in full swing. With more hot temperatures and sunshine on the way, a lot of folks are looking to get outdoors and enjoy every moment of it they can.

But you should know: 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer in the course of a lifetime, so sunscreen is a must.

Many different options bring about so many different questions.

Doctor Travis James with Advanced Dermatology says the most common one he is asked is about is three letters that appear on every bottle,SPF.

“SPF stands for sun protection factor, which means, when you use a sunscreen, how much longer will it take you to get a sunburn than if you were wearing nothing.”

He recommends using an SPFof at least 30, but what about the sunscreens with the higher SPF?

He explains, “if we are applying as we are supposed to then you are not getting that much benefit from the SPF 70 verses an SPF 30. When you look at it you get about a 97% protection from the sun with an SPF 30, so that's why people say anything above 30 doesn't offer more benefit because nothing provides you 100% coverage.”

Experts say an ounce of sunscreen is recommended to cover exposed areas. When it comes to water and sweat resistance lotions, do more features mean longer coverage? Not exactly.

Dr. James says, “most sunscreens are made to be reapplied every 2 hours. Some water-resistant sunscreens are only resistant for 40-80 minutes.”

He strongly recommends applying 15-30 minutes before jumping in to the water so it can absorb to the top layer of the skin. Sometimes, though we just don't have time to use lotion and reach for the spray can but do they work as well? There's no simple answer as sprays are not FDA-approved.

“Its very easy when you say, OK if you are applying that shot glass of sunscreen and cream then you know that's how much sunscreen you're getting. With sprays, different nozzles its difficult to determine how much is being applied,” Dr. James shared.

Some labels say hold close, others further away. If you do choose a spray can, take the time to rub the sunscreen in to your skin after.

When it comes to price variations, Doctor James says heftier price tags usually don't have to do with coverage but things like the texture of the sunscreen and whether it will leave your skin feeling greasy or more like a moisturizer.