Enjoy the beachiest days of summer with our top sunscreen selections.
Q: Is there really such a thing as a waterproof sunblock?*
A: "Nothing is waterproof," says Dr. Fusco. "The term is 'water-resistant.' Like all blocks, they must be reapplied frequently to be effective."
Hawaiian Green Tea Sunblock SPF 45 contains soothing aloe. $10; amazon.com
Aveeno Hydrosport Sunblock Spray SPF 50 goes on evenly and is formulated to work even when applied to wet skin. $11; drugstore.com
*According to proposed regulations from the FDA, sunscreen manufacturers can no longer claim that their products are "waterproof," "sweatproof," or act as "sunblocks. The new FDA guidelines will go into effect in 2012.
Q: What's the highest SPF that really works?*
A: "All sunblocks work to a certain extent, as long as they are applied correctly and aren't expired," says Dr. Fusco. "Once you go over an SPF of 30, the increase in sun protection is incremental." For example, an SPF of 30 filters about 97% of UVB rays, where SPF 50 filters about 98%, says Dr. Waldorf. But SPF only measures UVB rays that leave you with sunburn. You should also protect aginst aging UVA rays. Labels should read "full-spectrum."
Coppertone UltraGuard Sunscreen Lotion SPF 90+ covers UVA/UVB, and has non-greasy moisturizers and Vitamin E. $10; drugstore.com
*The FDA is proposing a regulation that would require sunscreen products that have SPF values higher than 50 to be labeled as “SPF 50+.” FDA does not have adequate data demonstrating that products with SPF values higher than 50 provide additional protection. The new FDA guidelines will go into effect in 2012.
Q: I don't want to get sunblock in my eyes. Any suggestions?
A: "With a sunblock stick, the product goes only where you put it," says Ranella Hirsch, MD, a dermatologist in Cambridge, Massachusetts. "It's solid and less likely to run."
Kiss my Face Hot Spots SPF 30 stays put on sensitive areas and contains organic beeswax, aloe, and coconut oil. $9; kissmyface.com
Q: The sun always does a number on my hair color. What can I do to protect it?
A: "Apply a leave-in conditioner with UV (ultraviolet) protection," says Francesca Fusco, MD, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Of course, the best guard against fading—that also shields your scalp from rays—is a hat.
Rene Furterer Protective Summer Fluid is a light spritz containing sesame oil, a nourishing natural UV filter. $23; amazon.com
Redken Color Extend Sun Solar Screen SPF 12 provides protection, plus mango oil for moisture. $16; amazon.com
Q: I've heard that sunscreens are harmful to sea life. Is that true?
A: They can be an issue in sensitive ecosystems, such as coral reefs. A portion of sales from eco-friendly Reef Safe sunscreens goes to the Ocean Futures Society.
Reef Safe Sunblocks and Sprayables are biodegradeable and nontoxic to sea life. $6-$10; reefsafesuncare.com
Q: My skin is really sensitive. What's good for me?
A: The minerals titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are often less irritating than other blocking ingredients, says New York dermatologist Dr. Heidi Waldorf. Or, pick a sunscreen without potential irritants like fragrances or oils.
Neutrogena Healthy Defense Daily Moisturizer SPF 50 Sensitive Skin is fragrance-free, with 100 percent naturally derived ingredients. $14; neutrogena.com
Q: My lips peel in the summer. How can I keep them hydrated and sun-safe?
A: Lips have almost no melanin (skin's sun-protecting substance), so they need extra help. Choose a lip product with moisturizers and UVA/UVB protection, says Dr. Waldorf, and reapply often—at least every two hours.
Jason Lip Balm SPF 25 contains hydrating sunflower oil. $5; jason-natural.com
eos Lemon Drop SPF 15 Smooth Sphere Lip Balm has a full-spectrum block, olive oil, and a citrusy flavor. $3; walgreens.com
When you want protection without even a hint of the white smear of some sunscreens, this glowing cream blends in for a totally natural look—it even has a beachy scent!
Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess Sun Indulgence Lotion for Face SPF 30 is a full-spectrum block in a small, purse-friendly tube. $22; esteelauder.com