Dr. George Answers the Burning Question

AssortedSunscreenSummer is upon us and the sun is shining.  One burning question remains: What sunscreen should you use?

As a dermatologist, I get asked this multiple times a day. I encourage all of my patients to use sunscreen on a daily basis. 1 in 5 Americans will be diagnosed with skin cancer; and the numbers are rising. Sun protection is the very best thing you can do to prevent aging and keep your skin looking healthy.

SunscreenLabelLook for a sunscreen with a label that says broad spectrum, which means it protects against both UVA and UVB, and a minimal SPF of 30.

You will no longer see waterproof sunscreens. Instead, they will indicate how many minutes they are water resistant ~ either 40 or 80 minutes. The FDA recently enacted rules that will make purchasing sunscreens much easier. The critical information will be listed prominently on the labeling.

There are some important things to know about applying sunscreen to make it work better. I see people making two mistakes all the time. The first is not applying your products until you arrive outside. It takes about 20 minutes for it to get absorbed into the skin and to give you full protection. Apply it before leaving the house.

The second mistake is forgetting to reapply. People are great about putting it on the first time, but then go all day outside without opening up the bottle again. Your product needs to be reapplied every 2 hours.


My favorite patients are the ones that come in with a sun burn and tell me they used sunscreen. The only way that happens is if the sunscreen was expired or if they didn’t reapply during the day. Don’t fib to your dermatologist; we know better.

There is also a lot of incidental sun exposure (I call it the “sun we don’t count”). Most people are great about putting on sunscreen if they are going to the pool or the beach, but forget about it on other occasions. When you garden, run, eat lunch outside or walk the dog you are still exposing yourself to the sun ~ so put on your sunscreen!


The next thing people want to know is if sunscreens are safe. There are no published scientific studies that show any sunscreen ingredients to be toxic to humans or hazardous to your health. But there are hundreds that show sunscreens reduce your risk of skin cancer and premature aging.  If you are still concerned, pick a sunscreen that is chemical free and contains ingredients like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. These are widely available and no longer formulated to make your skin white.

So what specific products do I recommend? Whether it is a cleanser, a moisturizer or a sunscreen, it’s often “trial and error” to find the right product for you. As long as it follows the rules I gave you above, the brand doesn’t matter. But I do have some personal favorites:



For daily protection, I love a product called Intellishade®. It has an SPF of 45 and a great tint that automatically matches your shade. It’s magical!



I also like Cerave Am® which is a great daily sunscreen that is readily available in drugstores.



For chemical free sunscreens, I recommend SkinMedica Daily Physical Defense®. You will never feel chalky with this one. SkinCeuticals® also makes a great chemical-free sunscreen that you can get with or without tint.



For sports, I recommend Coppertone Sport® or SkinCeuticals Sport UV®.  The Coppertone Sport is also available in a spray which is nice for reapplying on the go.

Whatever sunscreen you select, remember to use it daily, reapply often ~ and get your skin checked once a year!


DrRosalynGeorgeDr. Rosalyn George is a board certified dermatologist with expertise and knowledge across all major areas of dermatology, including medical, surgical and cosmetic dermatology.

In 2008 Dr. George founded the Wilmington Dermatology Center, a practice that has rapidly grown as a premier practice in the Carolinas and has earned a reputation for innovative treatments and excellent service focused on patient results.

In an effort to keep abreast of the latest advances in medicine, Dr. George also actively participates as the chief investigator for various dermatology focused clinical research studies. Her professional focus includes cosmetic dermatology, acne, rosacea, skin cancer and dermatologic surgery.

Dr. George is board certified through the American Board of Dermatology and completed her internship in Internal Medicine and her Dermatology Residency at Penn State University, where she served as chief resident. She received her medical degree from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA where she was elected to the prestigious Alpha Omega Alpha honor society. She graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Virginia Tech with a major in Biochemistry.

In addition to her formal training, Dr. George also completed a laser focused preceptorship with Dr. Tina Alster at the Washington Institute of Dermatologic Laser Surgery. Dr. George has also been selected for the American Academy of Dermatology Leadership Institute and was identified to participate in Allergan’s Medical Facial Aesthetics Speakers Bureau (AMFAST).


  1. Gabrielle says

    I kind of miss the crazy colors of zinc that you could use as decorative war paint… you should have seen me trying to explain to my kids that sporting a blue nose and pink stripes across your cheeks was “cool”!!

  2. Pam says

    I didn’t know about needing to apply early to get it absorbed for full protection. Wow! Thank you!

  3. Jennifer says

    News to me, too!

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