Kate Sandoval, SELF magazine
Mists, powders, lotions and sprays - I've tried nearly every form of sun protection out there, which I always thought qualified me as a total sunscreen pro. Not so! Chemist and owner of C.O. Bigelow Ian Ginsberg filled me in on strict new sunscreen regulations put in place by the FDA. (The big changes: no more "waterproof" claims, nothing higher than SPF 50+.) Because of this, in the next six months or so (the deadline keeps getting extended) a few of the products I've come to know and trust - I'm looking at you SPF wipes --may disappear from shelves.
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While I set out to discover a new fave sunscreen, I asked leading New York City dermatologist Dr. Jennifer MacGregor to identify the key components of an effective sunscreen so I can choose smartly. Here's what she said to look for:
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SPF. A measure of UVB protection, SPF relates to protection from sunburn. SPF 30 blocks 97% of UVB rays while SPF 50 blocks 98%. "There is no evidence that an SPF higher than 50 offers additional protection," says Dr. MacGregor. "Keep in mind that no sunscreen can block all of the UVB rays."
Broad Spectrum. Sunscreen formulas bearing this label offer protection from both UVB and UVA rays. UVAs are the pesky rays that penetrate clouds and window glass, meaning you can get UVA exposure on an overcast day or indoors without ever getting a sunburn or tan.
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Water and Sweat Resistance. Sunscreens won't be able to make the claim that they're waterproof. But they can say that they're "water resistant (40 minutes)" or "water resistant (80 minutes)." Look for these new claims when you're looking for a sunscreen to wear at the beach or pool or while you're working out. And remember that while all sunscreens need to be reapplied at least every two hours to maintain efficacy, they also need to be reapplied immediately after swimming or sweating.
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