You probably started out the summer with the best sun-protection intentions -- sunscreen on your face and arms every day and at least an ounce on your body every 2 hours at the beach. (Lots more than that if you're swimming a lot.) It's now midsummer, and somehow feeling virtuous is being outweighed by the bust in your beauty budget. Using about half of an 8-ounce container of sunscreen over the course of a day in the sun -- the amount you should be applying -- could be costing you more than beach parking.
Of course your skin is worth it. No wrinkles for you! And no cancer either. But no need to go broke. Use our bargain sun-protection tips for the rest of the summer and you'll have money left over for a Shellac manicure, and maybe eyelash extensions, too.
Don't fork over for fancy brands. Generic SPF 30s (the minimum you should use) with UVA/UVB protection are fine unless you have ultrasensitive skin or you're buying sunscreen for a baby. This year, Consumer Reports put Up and Up Sport SPF 30 from Target -- one of the least expensive sunscreens -- at the top of its best-buy list.
Look for zinc oxide. You'll get fast, excellent, very affordable, long-lasting protection from sunscreens that contain nanoparticles of zinc oxide. Yep, it's the same stuff lifeguards streak on their noses, except it's been crushed up so finely (that's what "nanoparticle" means) that it's morphed from white goop to invisible skin protector. Recent research confirms it provides the best UVA protection. RealAge experts Mehmet Oz, MD, and Michael Roizen, MD, are major fans, too, and not only because it works so well. They also like it because it isn't absorbed by your body, unlike chemical sunscreens.
Check your health plan. Some flexible spending accounts cover sunscreens of SPF 30 or more.
Invest in UV-protective clothing for the beach. Because summer's half over, you'll now find these marked down (even more at outlet stores). Look for shirts and pants with a UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) number. A top-of-the-line UPF 40-50 label lets only about 2% of the sun's rays through.
Buy sunscreen at late-summer sales. Just check the expiration dates before you get to the checkout to be sure it's effective after next Memorial Day. Yes? You've got a bargain.
Buy the one you'll use. No matter how cheap it is, if you don't like the way it feels on your skin, you won't use it, and sunscreen left at the bottom of your beach bag is a waste of money.
- Stay in the shade. It's free. That should keep your skin, wallet, and dermatologist happy this summer, and next.
Get more health tips from RealAge:
- Is your diet shortening your life span? Take the RealAge Test.
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- Answer these six questions if you suspect you have ADHD.
- Say bye-bye belly fat with the YOU Docs exercise and eating plan.
- Need help quitting smoking? Ask your doc for help.