With a blinding number of sunscreen options, where do you start? Right here! Our derm-approved guide will help you pinpoint the perfect SPF for your summer activities.
Your sun situation: You're rarely a rays person, except for those precious seven days of vacay. Going from 0 to 60 in the sun demands serious protection—the kind used by surfers and lifeguards, minus the white strip of zinc down your nose (although that works if you're willing, Dr. Herschenfeld says).
Your shield: A heavy-duty block that's high on SPF. "Look for the mineral UV filters zinc oxide and titanium dioxide—because they're big molecules, they sit atop skin and last longer," Dr. Friedman says. We like Shade SPF 30+ Opaque ($28; amazon.com), which was created by surfers. You can apply this type of block the second you're in the sun, so it's perfect for impromptu beach excursions, whale watches or just strolls on the boardwalk.
Skin cancer is color blind
Darker skin tones contain more melanin, the pigment that gives skin its color and protects against the sun. But new research in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology shows that those with darker skin need to be more vigilant about sun protection than they are. Consider this: The five-year survival rate for African-Americans with melanoma is 78 percent, significantly lower than that of Caucasians (92 percent), yet one study shows that 62 percent of African-Americans have never worn sunscreen. Says Dr. Baumann, "Anyone can get skin cancer, so skin tone is no reason to skip sunscreen."