Sun Care Products

What type of sunscreen
should I use?

Here's what you should look for in a sunscreen to help protect the whole family:

  • SPF (sun protection factor) of 30 or higher to protect against the sun's harmful UVB (ultraviolet B) rays. The higher the SPF, the more UVB the sunscreen filters out.
  • "Broad spectrum" to protect against both UVA an UVB rays. Too much exposure to either can damage skin.
  • "Water-resistant" or "sweat-resistant," which means it can briefly work on wet or sweaty skin. Still, you should reapply every two hours or after swimming, sweating or drying off.
  • Spray sunscreens, which may be easier to apply to squirmy children. Never apply spray sunscreen directly to the face. Spray it on your hands first and then use your fingers to apply it.

Getting a tan from the sun is a sign of skin damage and exposure to UV radiation. To get a warm glow without harming your skin, look for sunless tanning lotions and sprays, and wear sunscreen SPF 30+ while you're outdoors.

In addition to wearing a wide-brimmed hat and lightweight clothing that fully covers arms and legs, look for these products to help protect your skin:

  • SPF (sun protection factor) of 30 or higher to protect against the sun's harmful UVB (ultraviolet B) rays. The higher the SPF, the more UVB the sunscreen filters out.
  • "Broad spectrum" to protect against both UVA an UVB rays. Too much exposure to either can damage skin.
  • Sunburn treatment products, just in case. If you don't have blisters, a moisturizing cream with aloe vera and soy can help soothe, and hydrocortisone cream can help reduce skin inflammation while it heals. Seek medical attention if your burn is severe or blistering.

Some people turn to organic sunscreen or biodegradable sunscreen for a more natural option. If you go this route, make sure you read labels closely and look for FDA-approved ingredients.

Here's what you should look for in a sunscreen:

  • "Water-resistant" or "sweat-resistant," which means it can briefly work on wet or sweaty skin. Still, you should reapply after every two hours or swimming, sweating or drying off.
  • SPF (sun protection factor) of 30 or higher to protect against the sun's harmful UVB (ultraviolet B) rays. The higher the SPF, the more UVB the sunscreen filters out.
  • "Broad spectrum" to protect against both UVA an UVB rays. Too much exposure to either can damage skin.

No matter what activities youre up to this summer, it's important you protect your skin from the suns harmful rays. You should also wear sunscreen on cloudy days, as UV rays can still reach your skin through clouds.

Here's what you should look for in a sunscreen:

  • "Water-resistant" or "sweat-resistant," which means it can briefly work on wet or sweaty skin. Still, you should reapply after every two hours or swimming, sweating or drying off.
  • SPF (sun protection factor) of 30 or higher to protect against the sun's harmful UVB (ultraviolet B) rays. The higher the SPF, the more UVB the sunscreen filters out.
  • "Broad spectrum" to protect against both UVA an UVB rays. Too much exposure to either can damage skin.

Skin Cancer Foundation Recommended Daily Use    Skin Cancer Foundation Recommended Active

Is your sunscreen expert approved?

Look for the Skin Cancer Foundation's Seal of Recommendation, which means it meets the Foundation's standard for safe and effective sun protection products.

Learn more ›

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Frequently Asked Questions

How long does sunscreen last and how often should I be reapplying?

Most sunscreens are designed to be effective for up to three years. (If the shelf life of a product is shorter, the FDA requires an expiration date on the label.) Its important to reapply sunscreen throughout the day, at least every two hours, and after swimming, sweating or drying off.

How many minutes should you apply sunscreen before going outside?

It can take 15 minutes for your skin to absorb sunscreen. Apply a generous amount (one ounce, about the size of a golf ball) and cover all exposed areas of the body.

What does SPF stand for and how do I know which SPF to use?

SPF stands for sun protection factor. It refers to the level of protection the sunscreen provides against the sun's harmful UVB rays. The recommended sun protection factor is SPF 30 or higher, which blocks close to 97% of UVB rays. Only sunscreen with SPF 30 and higher is shown to reduce the risk of skin cancer and premature skin aging.

What's the difference between SPF values? (E.g., SPF 15, 30, 50 and 100)

SPF, or sun protection factor, refers to the level of protection the sunscreen provides against the sun's harmful ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. An SPF 30 sunscreen blocks close to 97% of UVB rays, while an SPF 50 sunscreen filters out about 98% of UVB rays.

What is broad spectrum SPF?

Broad spectrum SPF refers to sunscreens that protect against ultraviolet A (UVA) and UVB rays. UVB radiation can burn your skin, but UVA rays are also dangerous and can speed up skin aging. Too much exposure to either UVA or UVB rays can cause skin cancer.

What is the difference between sunblock and sunscreen?

When it comes to sunblock vs. sunscreen, note that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has banned the term "sunblock." This is because no sunscreen can fully block all of the sun's harmful rays.

What is the benefit of spray sunscreen vs. lotion?

Spray sunscreen allows for easier self-application to hard-to-reach areas like the backs of shoulders. Plus, many parents find it easier to apply spray sunscreen to squirmy children than lotions. Never apply spray sunscreen directly to the facespray it on your hands first and then use your fingers to apply it. Lotions and sticks are good options for face and hands.

What's the best sunscreen to use on babies and kids?

The best protection for infants younger than 6 months of age is to keep them out of direct sunlight, especially between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. If your baby will be outside, protect them with shade and clothing, and ask your pediatrician about using sunscreen. Babies 6 months and older can wear sunscreen. Sunscreen with zinc oxide or titanium oxide may be less irritating to your baby's skin.

What does water-resistant sunscreen mean?

This means the sunscreen can still briefly work on wet or sweaty skin. A water-resistant sunscreen label will often specify if it offers 40 minutes or 80 minutes of protection when swimming or sweating, based on standard testing. You should reapply sunscreen right after swimming, sweating or drying off. No sunscreen is waterproof or sweat proof.

What's the difference between mineral sunscreen and chemical sunscreen?

Chemical sunscreens protect your skin by absorbing UV rays and converting them into heat energy. Examples of chemical sunscreen ingredients include oxybenzone and avobenzone. Depending upon the ingredients used, chemical sunscreens may or may not offer broad spectrum protection.

Mineral sunscreens protect you by reflecting UV rays before they reach your skin. Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are physical sunscreen ingredients. Sunscreens that contain these products, such as zinc oxide sunscreen, reflect UVA and UVB rays and provide broad spectrum protection.

What's the difference between tanning lotion and self-tanner?

Tanning lotions contain oils that cause the skin to absorb more UV rays, speeding up the body's production of melanin, the pigment that causes skin to burn or tan. They contain little to no SPF protection and are often considered unsafe.

Self-tanners, or sunless tanning products, provide the appearance of bronzed skin without exposure to UV rays. They are commonly available as lotions, creams or sprays and contain a color additive, dihydroxyacetone (DHA), which reacts to amino acids in the skin, causing it to darken. This coloring wears off after a few days. Self-tanners do not contain sunscreen and won't protect skin from UV rays.

Does Walgreens sell sun care products in store?

Yes, Walgreens sells a large selection of sun care products, both in store and online.

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