Summer sunscreen selection

June 1, 2007

Invest in only the best summer suncreens to protect your body

Key Points

It's the time of the year when you begin to comb the stores for the perfect sandals, the perfect sundress - and even the perfect sunscreen. Wearing sun protection has become a summer "must." With so many products to choose from, how can you pick the one that's right for you?

The first step is to keep your particular lifestyle in mind when buying sun protection products. Chances are, you may need more than one. Most sun-smart people buy one sunscreen for everyday use and another for days spent at the pool or beach. Why? Because people are exposed to the UV rays of the sun everywhere they go.

Doctors now know that even incidental sunlight - the kind you get walking your dog in the park, driving in your car (glass does not protect against UV rays) or running errands - heightens your risk of developing fine lines, hyperpigmentation or skin cancer.

Try Neutrogena Age Shield Sunblock with Helioplex SPF 45, which contains two FDA-approved sunscreens. Helioplex technology combines avobenzone with oxybenzone to effectively screen out UVB ( the burning rays) and help stop UVA rays from penetrating the skin's surface layers. Using such a product will let you enjoy time at the beach while still protecting your skin.

If walking the dog on a sunny day is your pleasure, get your UV protection from your daily moisturizing cream. Check out the new Anthelios SX Daily Moisturizing Cream SPF 15, from La Roche-Posay. It contains Mexoryl SX, which combines reportedly the most effective organic UV filter with high photostability, a key factor in sunscreen protection efficacy.

Another option is NIA 24 Sun Damage Prevention 100% Mineral Sunscreen, which offers maximum sun protection in a weightless, oil-free lotion that absorbs instantly for complete UV protection. This formula combines the natural mineral protection of micronized titanium dioxide and zinc oxide with soothing vitamin E to help repair and protect skin, while alpha bisabolol soothes and hydrates.

A new line is available from Ahava, a company that uses minerals from the Dead Sea to create skincare products. The Ahava Mineral Suncare line features several products with high-filtering, broad-spectrum sun protection ingredients formulated to replenish skin while protecting it against harmful UV rays. Every product in the line offers a multi-layered protection system of minerals and vitamins, and all are water-resistant up to 80 minutes.

TOO OLD TO USE? Before buying anything, however, check the expiration dates. Some drugstores just roll over last year's inventory, but the SPF ingredients may no longer be effective.

Look at your inventory of products sitting in your medicine cabinet from last summer. Check expiration dates and toss any products that have expired.

Remember to stock up on products for other family members, too, Children may need sunscreens for sensitive skin, while active sports people may need heavier-duty products that won't sweat off easily. Remember that infants under 6 months old do not fare well in the sun, and most children's sunscreens aren't designed for use at this age. So, exercise extra caution with the youngest members of the family.

Finally, keep in mind that if you're out in the sun for a considerable length of time, you need to reapply sunscreen at two-hour intervals. Don't apply it sparingly, either.

You should use a full ounce or more of product for each application.

And remember - sunscreens help protect you from UV rays, but they don't give you a license to overstay your outdoor welcome! Limit your time in the midday sun, when rays are strongest and most capable of causing burns and damage.