Sunscreens are not created equal. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, an effective sunscreen is one that will prevent sunburn, reduce the risks of skin cancer and also, an oft not thought of, to prevent early aging of the skin.
They offer some guidelines:
EVERYONE needs a sunscreen! Look for at least these three things when purchasing your sunscreen:
.Broad Spectrum: this protects against both UVA &UVB rays. This is considered very important.
.Use at least a 30 SPF or higher.
.Water-resistance (you should have this) and even if it says it is~ remember if you are sweating very heavily or swimming to reapply often to ensure that it is still protecting you.
Quick notes for babies and toddlers:
Sunscreen is NOT recommended for babies 6 months or younger! So the very best way to protect your baby is to avoid any full sun exposure. Keep them in a shady area, cover them up in long pants/shirts, bonnets and wide-brimmed hats that cover ears and please use baby sunglasses.
Children 6 months or older please follow the already mentioned guidelines. But please add in things like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, these will cause less skin irritation.
Lastly, as of 2011, the FDA does regulate products as if they were an OTC drug, but please remember that this may or may not include someone selling something on the internet or a homemade mom & pop cosmetics company. Always, the buyer needs to be aware of what they are buying.
Please take a visit to the American Academy of Dermatology for all types of information regarding skin conditions and treatments as well as more information on sunscreens and safety in the summer sun. http://www.aad.org