This is the season! Beach, pools, and brats on the barbie! To the sizzling outdoors we go with little thought of applying SPF. No one likes it, but you should. Tanning – whether in a bed or under the sun, is a major risk to your health. It looks sexy, but the long-term effects – well … aren’t. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer. According to the World Health Organization, upward of 3-million non-melanoma skin cancers and 132,000 melanoma skin cancers occur globally each year. You’ve said it all: It’s greasy, it’s gross, it smells, it washes off. Why bother?
Well, sun damage has no prejudices. It occurs in the form of UV-rays: there are UVB rays that cause sun damage, redness and burn and UVA rays that age skin (and are also found in tanning beds). All can cause cancer. Sun damage occurs the moment you go outside without protection. Enter sunscreen. Touted as the best anti-aging ingredient by dermatologists, it is sold in physical form such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide (you know, the most commonly old-school picture with a dude with a white nose and shades in the sand?) and works to deflect the sun’s rays, protecting your skin. Other forms, known as synthetics absorb the sun’s rays and most commonly advertises ingredients Avobenzone or Octinoxate. Both work and many of today’s best products contain a mix of physical and synthetic for optimal protection. Advances in technology have made sunscreen more wearable than the white-nosed past. Here are some tips:
With hundreds on drugstore shelves to choose from, which are the best? I’ve rounded up 4 that go on smooth, feel good, and most importantly: work. Burns? Auf wiedersehen!
1 Clinique for Men UV Defense Broad Spectrum SPF 50 ($29.50, 1 oz.): This new, all-mineral sunscreen is a dream. Packaged with a needle-nose applicator and after a quick shake, you never squeeze out too much than what you need. While not ultra-emollient, this is a great, lightweight fluid sunscreen best suited for your face or smaller areas of the bod. Apply on top of your favorite moisturizer. Although it has a slight initial white caste, it quickly sinks in after a few minutes and leaves skin feeling dewy with more of a matte finish. Its fragrance-free formula is perfect for sensitive skin. The only drawback; it’s not water resistant. But it’s great for everyday use and at 1 oz., is perfect for TSA-approved summer vay-cay. BUY HERE
2 Sun Bum Broad Spectrum SPF 50 ($9.99, 3 oz.): Now, here’s a celebration in every sunscreen squeeze! Slightly fragranced with Caribbean aromas: banana, coconut and fun, this broad-spectrum synthetic lotion gets you in the mood to lather up and repeat all summer long. Water resistant for up to 80 minutes of swimming or sweating, this quick-absorbing (and we mean quick!) sunscreen is perfect for applying 15 minutes before those volleyball championships in the sand or morning 5Ks. The added vitamin E antioxidant soothes skin while also fighting free-radical sun damage is an added perk – especially for the price!
2 Kiss My Face Sun Spray Lotion SPF 30 ($15.95, 8 oz.): A mix of synthetic and chemical ingredients like zinc oxide, as well as antioxidants and plant-based emollients round out this well-formulated, moisture-rich, creamy and water-resistant fragrance-free body sunscreen as a homerun in sun protection. Packaged in a trigger-spray bottle, application is beyond easy and convenient, especially after a shower. Spritz on and rub in all over in less than 30 seconds. It comes out gently, much like a spray bottle of water, rather than those aerosol sun-sprays, which tend to be of no help in showing you where the sunscreen has been applied. This formula sets in a little slower than others, but is worth it. This is my personal daily go-to and is a must in any beach tote. After all, sharing is caring.
4 Nios Shield Whipped Hair Gel SPF 15 ($26, 4 oz.): Going for the beach hair at the beach? Perfect. Tackle two tasks with one product. This whipped hair gel adds beachy style and hold to shorter do’s and volume to longer locks, all while adding some sun protection to an often missed spot: your scalp! Those natural highlights and beach curls come at a cost. Prolonged exposure to harmful rays can damage your outer layer of hair called the cuticle and its proteins, causing dry, shapeless hair that refuses to curl or hold any style. Fun fact: Those with finer, lighter or African-American hair are more susceptible to sun-damaged hair. Luckily with this gel, you’ve got an added layer of protection behind some handsomely salt-water-styled hair, just be sure to really massage it into your scalp and re-apply if need be. Headed for the pool? Try Nios Shield’s Leave-In Conditioner with SPF 15 for added scalp protection in and out of water. For best results in any situation though, a hat reigns supreme.
A numbers game? The SPF number (15, 30, 50, etc.) does not refer to a product’s strength or quality, but to the time it would take you to burn if unprotected against the time it would wearing sunscreen (oh, science!). Rule of thumb: SPF 30 is the standard go-to
How much is enough? Bottoms up! A shot-glass worth of lotion should liberally cover you from head to toe
Long lasting? While primarily outdoors, reapply sunscreen every 2 hours—no matter the SPF
Plan accordingly: Chemical sunscreens take up to 20 minutes to absorb before they fully protect
Splish splash, you’ll be taking an aloe bath: Not all sunscreens are water-resistant, reapply as needed to skip the burn
Rain or shine: Whether sunny or cloudy, UV rays still come through and can damage. Be safe, not sorry.
Grooming guide: Apply sunscreen on top of moisturizer as your last-step before you’re out the door
Get bronzed without stepping foot in the sun
BONUS Paula’s Choice Sun 365 Self-Tanning Foam ($16, 5 oz.): This quick drying formula goes on flawlessly even and smooth with your hand or the help of a foam mitt (personally preferred). After exfoliating in the shower and really moisturizing those dry area (knees, elbows and between fingers, gents), apply this foam much like you would a hair mousse, evenly from head to toe, paying close attention to aforementioned areas. (Tip: Have your boo help with your back.) Then, chill for 2-3 hours and viola, based on the amount of foam applied, you’ll look like you’re fresh from a week-long yacht jaunt in Santorini or have a nice, even sun-kissed glow to you. The self-tanner lasts for up to 4-5 days and does not protect against sun damage. Use preferred sunscreen from above before heading outdoors.