We both know you aren’t doing a great job with sunscreen. You know it because even now guilt is settling in as you recount how often you’ve failed to apply SPF. And I know it because I’ve seen you and your painful-looking burnt skin out and about in the desert.
I’m guilty, too. Of forgetting.
Of not applying enough and then not reapplying with regularity. Of tacitly choosing sun damage over greasy protection, even when I know the rising skin cancer statistics.
Fortunately, there is now a cadre of sunscreens developed for both convenience and protection that will change the way you think.
SPF, or sun protection factor, is the percentage of UVB rays blocked by sunscreen. SPF 15 blocks 93 percent of rays, 30 blocks 97 percent, and 50 blocks 98. Not quite the leap in protection you thought, is it? And what of those SPF 70s and 100s? With only 2 percent of rays left to be blocked, there isn’t much for those high- SPF numbers to cover. That’s why the FDA is moving to prevent sunscreens from claiming any SPF value over 50. Soon 50-plus will be the highest label available for SPF. Until then, know that the midrange numbers will serve you well.
Broad-spectrum sunscreens protect skin from UVB rays, which immediately damage the skin in the form of a burn, and UVA rays, which cause the long-term damage we know as aging. If it doesn’t say broad spectrum on the bottle, you aren’t getting the coverage you need.
Sunscreens provide physical or chemical blocks between your skin and the sun’s rays, so look for zinc oxide in the active ingredients of SPF products for non-chemical (kid-friendly) physical blocks and –bezone and –salate—ending ingredients for chemical blocks that quickly and completely disappear into the skin.
La Mer The Reparative Body Sun Lotion Broad Spectrum SPF 30 ($95) is sun care and skin care in one quick-absorbing, nongreasy lotion. Used daily and over time, La Mer’s signature Miracle Broth and other sea-derived ingredients work to reverse previous sun damage and signs of aging. It also immediately improves skin’s appearance with plumping caffeine and light- reflecting mica.
La Roche-Posay Anthelios 60 ($29.99) is an ultralight broad- spectrum sunscreen fluid for the face that dries matte. The nongreasy formula is great worn alone or under makeup, as it won’t break down foundation or alter its color.
One coat of sunscreen doesn’t make you invincible against the sun. All SPFs need to be applied and then reapplied as directed. That might be a nuisance poolside, but reapplying over makeup used to be impossible. Coola Face SPF 30 Organic Matte Makeup Setting Spray ($36) has changed that. Handy for reapplying SPF on the go, the mist isn’t as fine as a traditional makeup-setting spray, but the convenience is worth the slightly larger droplets.
CeraVe Sunscreen with Broad Spectrum SPF 50 ($16.99) is a physical block that sinks into the skin quickly without the telltale whitish glow of zinc. CeraVe is rightly proud of their InVisibleZinc technology, which is light-years ahead of the zinc block that brings teenage-lifeguards to mind.
And for guys, Clinique for Men UV Defense Broad Spectrum SPF 50 ($29.50) has you covered in manly fashion with its neutral scent. The lotion sits lightly on the skin, providing protection and skincare in unobtrusive fashion. Which is to say, you won’t smell like a piña colada.
Whatever your sunscreen needs, Neutrogena has a line of SPF for you. You really can’t go wrong with any of its offerings, but their Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen SPF 30 to 55 ($10.99) is a standout for not feeling like sunblock. As the name implies, the lotion is light, and not sticky which makes for a great daily SPF — which is exactly what you’ll need 365 days a year in Palm Springs.
For more beauty tips, follow Wendy on Twitter @WendyDuren