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Dermatologist recommends 'going Australian' when buying sunscreens

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BLOOMFIELD, CT (WFSB) -

It may not be summer, but experts said spring was a good time to stock up on sunscreen.

Dermatologists recommended five tips that could help keep a family safe and protect them against burns and skin cancer.

Jennifer Pennoyer, a dermatologist in Bloomfield, said her first tip was to shop like people live in Australia.

"They have less ozone and all our best skin cancer studies come from them," she explained.

Pennoyer said Australian sunscreens are made with higher concentrations of physical blockers. They include ingredients like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide that you cannot rub into your skin. They also have chemical sunscreens.

"The chemical sunscreens bind to the skin, and those are products that can be herbal extracts or oxibenzone," Pennoyer said.

Australian sunscreens can be bought online, but Pennoyer said make it simple. She said buyers should look for the words "Broad spectrum" on the bottle, which meant that it protected against UVA rays and UVB rays.

Pennoyer's second tip was the higher the SPF, the better. She said the thinking used to be that anything higher than SPF 15 was a waste of time. However, that's changed. She said users should go for SPF 30 or higher.

"Studies have shown that when you rub it in, you generally get the SPF that's half to a third of what's on the bottle," she said.

When people were trying to figure out how much sunscreen to use, Pennoyer said think of a shot glass. She said use the amount of a shot glass on the body and definitely reapply.

"Important to reapply after two hours or if you are sweating or swimming," she said.

Her third recommendation was to make sure the sunscreen was water resistant.

The fourth, keep an eye on expiration dates.

"Those of us who carry it in our purse, in the car, and in a backpack, those are going to expire quicker and not be useful after a year," Pennoyer said. "I would throw them out from year to year."

Her fifth and final tip, use specifically labeled sunscreens for babies or children.

"They can absorb chemicals more easily, they have higher concentrations of physical blockers and they just tend to be gentler, not a lot of additives," said Pennoyer.

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