As reported by WBIR-TV, Knoxville, Tennessee, August 22, 2008.

Experts Give Sunscreen Guidelines

This time of year, you may feel like you need a map to navigate the sunscreen aisle at your local pharmacy.

To help sort through the many options, we went shopping with dermatologist Dr. Jane Grant-Kels. Grant-Kels is chair of the dermatology department at the University of Connecticut Health Center.

The first thing to pay attention to about sunscreen is the difference between sunscreen and sunblock, she said.

"Sunscreen absorbs the ultraviolet light so they don't penetrate the skin, and sunblocks actually block the light from penetrating the skin at all," Grant-Kels said.

UVB rays cause burns, while UVA rays tend to age the skin.

Both can cause cancer.

"If you really want a total block, you want to block UVA and UVB," Grant-Kels said.

Also be careful to look for waterproof, not water resistant, she said. And when it comes to sun protection factor, or SPF, higher numbers don't always translate as you'd expect.

"The higher the number the better the coverage, but at some point the number loses its value," Grant-Kels said. An SPF of 15 is good, she said. Sunscreens with an SPF higher than 15 tend to be more expensive, so she tells patients that if they can't afford the higher rating 15 is fine.

"You have to look for the UVA, the UVB, SPF and water proof and then look for what's on sale," Grant-Kels said. While SPF is important, no rating is powerful enough to let you stay on the beach all day.

Another factor to consider is sunscreen for children. "There are some sunscreens that are advertised for children. They have less chemicals, but unless a child has allergies or is prone to rashes from topical things, you don't have to be looking for particular special creams for the children," Grant-Kels said. Grant-Kels also helped decipher the names of the ingredients, like helioplex, which extends the UVA protective chemicals.