Like man, all sunscreens were created equal, right? Wrong. The packaging may be enticing and the newest formulas might smell yummy, but don't be fooled by smoke and mirrors when it comes to your sunscreen this summer. There are a few things your bottle should have to protect and treat your skin right all summer long. Before you hit the beach this summer, make sure your SPF has the following.
Safe Sun Tip #1: Pick an SPF with UVA and UVB
You've been warned to protect yourself from UVB rays because they are the ones that cause direct damage to the skin's surface (i.e. sunburn), but you need to protect yourself from UVA rays as well. UVA rays make up almost 90 percent of the ultraviolet radiation that makes up the atmosphere and causes long-term effects to your skin, like wrinkles and aging sun spots. To protect your skin from both, pick a formula that says "broad spectrum" or states protection from both on the bottle. Our pick? Ocean Potion Broad Spectrum Sunblock SPF 30.
Safe Sun Tip #2: We All Need the Same Level of Protection
Whether you're a lifeguard for the summer that spends hours outdoors or only get to soak up the sun on the weekends, we all need the same level of protection. Some skin tones, especially olive ones may be more tolerant to the sun, but this doesn't mean you can slather on the tanning oil. No matter how old you are, the amount of sun exposure you get now will determine the amount of fine lines and wrinkles that will appear later down the road, so be sure to lather up with an SPF 30 and reapply every two to three hours. Your skin will thank you!
Safe Sun Tip #3: Don't Buy the Hype
You're fair skinned and tend to burn so you've stocked up on tons of SPF 70 this summer. One application and you're set for the day, right? Wrong again. In fact, according to New York based dermatologist Neal Schultz, M.D. anything above SPF 30 may not be much more protection. When it comes to UVB protection, a sunscreen with SPF 15 offers 88 percent protection, and SPF 30 offers 95 percent. Anything above is only a small marginal higher and if you don't reapply, not helpful. Instead of buying SPF 70 and applying once in the morning, choose an SPF like Coppertone Sport SPF 30 and reapply throughout the day.
Safe Sun Tip #4: Make Sure Your SPF Feels Good
If you buy a heavy, goopey sunscreen your chances of reapplying every two hours are slim to none. Instead, choose a formula that feels good for you. Not a fan of rubbing in a glue-like lotion all day? Choose a spray one like Clinique Sun SPF 25 Body Spray.
Safe Sun Tip #5: Pick the Right Formula for Your Skin Type
Picking any old sunscreen off the shelf will most likely protect your skin, but may cause you to break out in the process. If you're in your 20s to 30s, your skin has a high tendency to be oily, which means you should choose a light, oil-free formula like GoClear Moisturizing Sunscreen SPF 15 to keep your skin both blemish and burn free. In your 40s, 50s, and beyond your skin tends to be more on the dry side. Pick a hydrating formula like Patricia Wexler M.D. Daily Defense Anti-Oxidant Tinted Moisturizer SPF 30 for everyday wear to combat dry, flaky skin and sun damage at the same time.
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Reprinted with permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.