It probably seems like a no-brainer to pick out sunscreen.  Just walk into your local drugstore and pick whatever is cheapest and seems to offer the best protection.  There is actually a bit more to it than that.  The type of suntan lotion you buy should be contingent on more than just a low price and a snazzy looking bottle that seems to offer protection for your skin.

Here are some more specific guidelines you should follow when buying sunscreen

  • Look for a minimum of 30 SPF.  Anything under 30 will only be able to screen 95% of UVB rays, while 30 and above will be able to catch 97%.  (Nothing can catch 100% unfortunately.) By the way, SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor, in case you were wondering.
  • You don’t need more than 30 SPF unless you have a fair complexion.  That being said, if you do happen to have a fair complexion, definitely go for the higher SPF.  Being white as a ghost, I have had to use 80 SPF before, and I still ended up being a little pink after a day at the beach.  Definitely be cautious if you have fair skin.
  • Buy a sunscreen that includes both UVA and UVB protection.  This one is extremely important.  SPF only protects against UVB rays, but it does not protect against UVA rays, which cause aging and wrinkles.  Both UVA and UVB cause cancer. Sunscreen with both UVB and UVA protection may be labeled as such or they may have a “Broad Spectrum” protection label.
  • Make sure it’s water-resistant.  There is nothing worse than sunscreen sweating off or washing off in water.  Though you cannot buy entirely water-proof suntan lotion, there is water-resistant sunscreen, which stays on longer when exposed to water.
  • Don’t buy something you won’t use.  The best sunscreen is not only one that’s good for you, but one that you don’t mind wearing.  Sunscreen can be annoying to apply, but if you like the product, you will be less likely to neglect it.  Therefore, there is no right or wrong product or style of sunscreen to choose, so long as it includes UVA and UVB protection and a high enough SPF for your skin type.  Water-resistant sunscreen is great, but if you won’t be sweating or going in any water it isn’t a necessity.

Here are some of my favorite suntan lotions

CVS Fast Cover Continuous Clear Spray Sport Sunscreen Spf 30- $5
Why?  Sunscreen is expensive.  I know I said not to automatically go for something cheap, but this one hits all the requirements.  Also, spray sunscreen is so much easier to use than any other type.  This one is my favorite hands-down.

Neutrogena Pure & Free Baby Sunblock Stick, SPF 60+- $9
Why?  I use this one on my face because, again, it’s very easy to apply.  It comes as a roll-up stick, so there is no mess.

Always remember

  • Apply sunscreen generously!
  • Reapply every two hours.  I don’t care if it’s cloudy or if you are wearing a hat or whatever.  No excuses.  Reapply.

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