It is important that areas of hypopigmentation are well protected from the sun; lack of melanin makes the skin far more vulnerable to sun damage. Look for the words “broad spectrum” to ensure the sunscreen formulation contains ingredients that protect against UVA and UVB rays. Both the Skin Cancer Foundation and American Academy of Dermatology recommend your broad spectrum sunscreen have an SPF of 30 or higher. It is also recommended to look for sunscreen products that have been awarded the Skin Cancer Seal of Recommendation for Daily Use or Active Use. This indicates that that product formulation has gone through extensive testing and met stringent criteria for safety and efficacy in the following three categories:
- Photobiology (SPF determination) – this test confirms that the product not only meets, but also exceeds the SPF number listed on the package.
- Phototoxicity – this test determines whether the product will cause any type of acute light-induced skin response. This ensures that the product is not sensitizing, even in extreme UV conditions.
- RIPT (Repeat Insult Patch Test) – this test places the product under occlusion on test participants’ skin for six weeks to prove that there is no chance of the product being an irritant. With the passing of this test, you can be confident that the product is not irritating or sensitizing, even on sensitive skin types.
Clothing is also important, but not all fabrics and colors provide equal protection. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) indicates how much UV radiation (both UVB and UVA) a fabric allows to reach your skin. For example, a UPF 50 fabric blocks 98 percent of the sun’s rays and allows two percent (1/50th) to penetrate, thus reducing your exposure risk significantly. A fabric must have a UPF of 30 to qualify for The Skin Cancer Foundation’s Seal of Recommendation. A UPF of 30 to 49 offers very good protection, while UPF 50+ rates as excellent.