Our Favorite Sunscreens for Optimal Protection

While summer means sun, it also means sun damage. However, with the right sun protection, we can prevent sun damage and premature aging.  What is the right sun protection? Sunscreen! But not just any ole’ sunscreen. Continue reading to learn what you need to be looking for in a sunscreen for proper and safe protection.

Sunscreen Basics- Learning How to Decode Those Labels

Sunscreen labels are confusing when you don’t understand the terminology. We’ll help you decode the jargon, so you can choose a quality product to protect your skin.

  • SPF– SPF is short for sun protection factor and provides valuable information about the sun protection capabilities of each sunscreen. Smaller numbers mean less protection and larger numbers mean more. SPF primarily offers insight into sunburn avoidance. For a patient that typically gets a sunburn after 10 minutes in the sun, a product with an SPF of 15 would extend that 15x, delaying sunburn to about 150 minutes of sun exposure. Likewise, SPF 30 would extend the time before a burn 30x. However, higher isn’t always better. We recommend using at least SPF 15 each day. SPF 30+ is ideal for days in the sun. If your SPF is higher than 50, increases in sun protection are negligible.


  • Physical vs. Chemical Sun Protection- Different sunscreens protect the skin in different ways. A chemical sunscreen absorbs UV rays, preventing them from damaging the skin. A physical sunscreen blocks and reflects UV rays. Many of our favorite products provide both physical and chemical protection. Common chemical protectants include octinoxate, octisalate, homosalate, oxybenzone, and avobenzone. Common physical protectants include zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.


  • Broad-Spectrum- Choose a broad-spectrum product to protect your skin from both UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays are a primary cause of photoaging and lead to wrinkles and sagging. UVB rays are the primary cause of sunburn. Both types of UV rays cause skin cancer.


  • Water-Resistant- Did you know that sweat and water can wash your sun protection away? A water-resistant sunscreen will last longer than a product that isn’t water-resistant, but you’ll still need to reapply. Even water-resistant products lose effectiveness after 80 minutes in the water.

Even the best sun protection products won’t be effective if you don’t use them properly. Be generous as you apply sunscreen and reapply at least every two hours. UV rays are present during every season and even when there are clouds out. Make sunscreen a habit and use it daily.

Our Top Sunscreen Picks for Summer 2018

Help! How do I choose the best sunscreen for my skin?  Dr. Clinton shares some of his favorite picks for optimal sun protection this summer.

  • SkinMedica Essential Defense Everyday Clear Broad Spectrum SPF 47- For everyday sun protection, this is one of our favorite picks. It doesn’t clog pores, and it feels lightweight and sheer. Choose this sunscreen if you have oily or combination skin.


  • SkinMedica Essential Defense Mineral Shield Broad Spectrum SPF 35- This mineral based physical sunscreen offers the highest levels of UVA protection available to stop premature aging as well as UVB coverage. This is a great choice for patients with sensitive skin or that want to avoid chemical sunscreens.


  • SkinMedica Total Defense + Repair Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 34- Help your skin restore itself with this dual-function product. This unique broad-spectrum sunscreen also offers protection against harmful infrared rays (IR-A rays) and helps to repair damaged skin.


  • Obagi Sun Shield Matte Broad Spectrum SPF 50 – This pick offers the highest level of SPF with physical and chemical UV protection and a sheer matte finish for all skin types.


  • Obagi Sun Shield Tint Broad Spectrum SPF 50 – This tinted sunscreen offers the same protection as the Obagi Sun Shield Matte, but also protects against harmful infrared rays. It is offered in a cool tint and warm tint to match any skin tone.

Come in and we’ll help you find sun protection that fits with your skin type and lifestyle. We offer many medical-grade products from top skincare lines including Obagi and SkinMedica.

Clinton Plastic Surgery carries some of the best medical-grade sunscreen products in the Birmingham, AL area. Let us help you protect your skin!