Walking down the sunscreen aisle of your neighborhood drugstore in the spring and summer can be a bit daunting. Your eyes will probably glaze over by the time you choose a bottle and you may end up not getting the coverage you need. There are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to choosing sunscreen, from the SPF level to how pore-clogging it can be. We dove into a couple of suggestions of how to best shop for sunscreen this summer, starting first with what to look for on the bottle (and what’s in it).
The biggest thing to look out for is the type of protection you’re getting. Don’t skimp on reading the labels, because not all sunscreens are the same, even if they have the same SPF number. According to the American Cancer Society’s website, you should “choose a sunscreen with ‘broad spectrum’ protection. Sunscreens with this label protect against both UVA and UVB rays.” The site explains that while all sunscreens protect against sunburn and skin cancer-causing UVB rays, only broad-spectrum ones protect against UVA, which can contribute to skin cancer risk and premature aging.
When it comes to that SPF number, it isn’t just arbitrary. “The SPF number is the level of protection the sunscreen provides against UVB rays,” according to the site. But that doesn’t mean that 100+ is always the answer, even if it has the highest number. “Higher SPF numbers do mean more protection, but the higher you go, the smaller the difference becomes,” the ACS site warns. For context, the site explains that SPF 15 sunscreens filter out about 93% of UVB rays, SPF 30 about 97%, SPF 50 about 98%, and SPF 100 about 99%, warning that “no sunscreen protects you completely.”
EltaMD UV Clear Facial Sunscreen Broad-Spectrum SPF 46, $33 on Amazon: When it comes to your face, sunscreen that has been specially made to be non-comedogenic (non-pore-clogging) is good for sensitive skin. The EltaMD UV Clear Facial Sunscreen has a 4.3-star rating with over 3,500 reviews and is also derived from a mineral-based formula with niacinamide, hyaluronic acid and lactic acid added to keep your skin happy.
Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen, $9 on Amazon: One of the biggest complaints about body sunscreen is that it can be greasy and thick. The Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen is both water-resistant (for up to 80 minutes) and non-greasy. With broad spectrum SPF 100+, you’re protected from every level of UV exposure. Over 1,000 reviews leave it with a 4.5-star rating.
Supergoop! Fusion Lip Balm SPF 30, $10 on Amazon: Most SPF makeup doesn’t do a great job at protecting us, but one of those exceptions is SPF lip balm. Before it’s a lip balm, the Supergood! Fusion Lip Balm offers broad spectrum SPF 30 protection for some of your most vulnerable and sensitive skin. With a 4.4-star rating from 220 reviews, this balm pairs sun protection with moisturizing shea butter, sunflower oil, and honey to keep your lips moisturized.
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