It’s the dog days of August and we’re spending more time outdoors. The Food and Drug Administration’s new rules for sunscreen labels will help you make a more informed choice of products. Sunscreens that pass the FDA test for protection against both UVA and UVB radiation may include “broad spectrum” on the labels. Those with an SPF of 15 or higher may indicate that, if used with other sun protection methods, may reduce the risk of skin cancer or early skin aging.
The SPF rating refers only to the protection against UVB rays. The UVA rays penetrate through the epidermis into the dermis and are the real culprits when it comes to skin cancer and aging, so I recommend using only broad-spectrum products. For greatest protection, look for products with a physical blocker, such as zinc oxide or titanium oxide, which provide protection against the full spectrum of UVA and UVB rays. This sampling of great products uses at least one of these physical blocking ingredients:
The Healthy Sunscreen by Lavanila Laboratories has an SPF 30 and is infused with anti-aging antioxidants, botanicals and amino acids. It is super sheer, absorbing into the skin without any sticky feeling. Certified organic, you can find this cream in a tube online for about $38 for four ounces.
Face Factor by Kiss My Face is a water-resistant SPF 30 sunscreen. It, too, is rich in anti-oxidants, absorbs quickly and the scent is light and fresh. Kiss My face is a line well-known for their all-natural organic ingredients. You can find it in stores or online for about $13 for two ounces.
Lily B’s SPF 30 Ultra Defense is formulated with natural, botanical extracts and essential oils. The cream has a light pink shade to it and the scent, while not the most pleasant, fades quickly. A little of this goes a long way, and at $22.50 online for two ounces, it is a good value.
You can also find some great broad-spectrum sunscreens that protect, but do not block. Look for products with Avobenzone, Helioplex or Antihelios. These three sunscreens are water resistant, absorb quickly and are great for sensitive skin:
La Roche-Posay’s Anthelios 60 Melt-In Sunscreen Milk is especially luxurious, and is the priciest at $35 for five ounces.
Vichy Capital Soleil SPF 30 is fragrance-free and luxurious. $28 for five ounces.
Australian Gold Sheer Coverage, SPF 30, is hydrating, smells great, dries quickly and is a bargain at $11 for 6 ounces.
Keep in mind that water-resistant does not mean you can avoid reapplication after swimming. Remember to follow the directions on the label and be especially diligent about reapplying often during prolonged exposure.
TIP: Look for the Skin Cancer Foundation seal of recommendation when shopping for sunscreen.