What’s one thing you can do start your day off right? Adding sunscreen to your morning ritual. Even if you’re inside most of the day, the sun’s harmful rays can have a negative impact on your skin. Applying sunscreen to your face and parts of your body exposed to the sun (like your chest, arms and hands), will help protect your skin’s appearance and prevent skin cancer.
But shopping for sunscreen isn’t as simple as grabbing the first bottle you see off the shelf. There are sprays, creams and gels; formulas developed for babies; ones that claim to resist sweat and water; and a stupefying range of SPFs.
Check out these dermatologist-recommended tips to help you navigate the sunscreen isle:
Be broad-minded. Choose broad-spectrum sunscreens that protect you from UVA rays, which lead to wrinkles, and UVB rays, which cause sunburns. The FDA requires that sunscreens be labeled accurately, but it never hurts to inspect the ingredients closely.
Search for sunscreen’s MVPs. The strongest ingredients are zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, abobenzone and ecamsule. Only purchase sunscreens that contain one or more of these ingredients.
Choose your type. Which sunscreen is superior: a spray, lotion or gel? Experts agree they all work equally, but it depends on your personal preference. The winner is the one you’re most likely to wear.
Pick a number. SPFs greater than 50 do not provide extra protection. Sunscreens with SPF 15 or higher will help prevent sunburn. Just be sure to reapply on the schedule listed on the bottle.
Be wary of waterproof. There’s no such thing as a waterproof or sweatproof sunscreen. Some are water resistant, but even those should be applied every 40 to 80 minutes depending on how much you’re swimming or sweating. The more you swim or sweat, the more often you should reapply.
Protect the little ones, too. Keep babies younger than 6 months out of direct sunlight. For babies older than 6 months, there are sunscreens made specifically for their gentle skin, but any SPF 15 sunscreen that shields against UVA and UVB rays will protect them. Reapply every two hours, paying particular attention to the face and ears.
BONUS TIP: Dress to Protect Your Skin
Along with applying sunscreen every morning, make sunglasses, a wide-brimmed hat and protective clothing part of your wardrobe on sunny days when you’ll be outdoors. If you can, aim to stay in the shade between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun’s rays are the strongest.