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How do sunscreens prevent skin damage from the sun?

Sunscreens protect the skin from ultraviolet (UV) rays in two ways: chemically and physically.

Two kinds of UV rays from the sun reach the earth: UVA and UVB.

Sunscreens that work chemically absorb either or both types of UV rays, depending on the ingredients in the product. Ideally, chemical sunscreens will include ingredients to protect skin from both types of rays.

Sunscreens that work physically scatter or reflect both types of UV rays, by making an opaque barrier on the skin. Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are two ingredients used commonly in physical sunscreens.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.