Despite elegant new formulations and innovative packaging that makes sunscreen application a snap, too much skin is still going uncovered. In a 2008 survey by Coppertone, nearly half of respondents admitted they didn't wear sunscreen at all. Until now, that is. Prepare to excuse-proof your sunscreen use!
Excuse: "Sunscreen breaks me out"
The Truth: Fear of aggravating acne is the No. 1 reason women shun sunscreen, says Dr. Robert A. Weiss, president of the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery. But guess what? Protecting skin from UV light curtails future breakouts. "The sun stimulates oil glands and thickens skin, so pores become blocked," explains Weiss.
Problem Solver: Keep breakouts at bay with a lightweight, nonoily lotion like Coppertone NutraShield Faces 70+ SPF with Dual Defense ($10.50; drugstores), which is proven not to clog pores.
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Excuse: "It's Messy to Reapply Sunscreen Over Makeup"
The Truth: Not freshening your sunscreen is akin to committing skin suicide. Here's why: The potency of sunscreen decreases after a couple of hours, and a mere 10 minutes of daily exposure to aging UVA rays is known to cause changes that lead to wrinkles and brown spots within a few months.
Problem Solver: A brush-on tinted mineral sunscreen powder such as BareMinerals SPF 30 Natural Sunscreen ($28; bareescentuals.com) is perfect for quick touch-ups before dashing out to lunch or running errands midday. Besides helping to even out your skin tone, the minerals naturally diffuse light, so your complexion looks smoother and more luminous.
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Excuse: "I sweat it off so quickly"
The Truth: This lament, common among outdoor athletes, has merit: Sweating decreases the effectiveness of sunscreen, and so does wiping the skin to remove the sweat, says Dr. James Spencer, associate clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Look for a sport sunscreen labeled very water resistant or very water/sweat resistant--that means it's proven to protect for 80 minutes. Still, to be safe, reapply often.
Problem Solver: In addition to being very water/sweat resistant, Banana Boat UltraMist Sport Performance Continuous Spray SPF 85 ($10.50; drugstores) sprays on clear, so hands don't get greasy rubbing it in (a boon for golf and tennis players). A nozzle that works at any angle makes coating hard-to-reach places a breeze.
Excuse: "My skin is sensitive"
The Truth: Chemical sunscreens, which absorb UV light, can be irritating. Instead, opt for a physical sunblock that reflects UV rays; these products contain zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, which rarely upset sensitive skin. Even better, because sunblocks don't allow skin to get as hot as sunscreens do, they're less likely to aggravate redness from conditions such as rosacea, says Weiss.
Problem Solver: Some sunblocks create a whitish cast, but the ultrafine zinc and titanium in Neutrogena Sensitive Skin Sunblock Lotion SPF 60+ with PureScreen ($10; drugstores) quickly vanish into skin. It's also fragrance free, further reducing the chance of irritation.
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Excuse: "Sunscreen makes my face shiny"
The Truth: Even some oil-free formulas leave skin looking (and feeling) like a grease slick. They're often too heavy to apply under makeup as well. As a result, many women rely on the SPF in makeup, a habit worth breaking: A study did show that even under typical office or home conditions, foundation can shift and wear off after a few hours.
Problem Solver: Thanks to its ultra-airy texture, La Roche-Posay Anthelios 60 Ultra Light Sunscreen Fluid for Face ($27.50; CVS) absorbs quickly and dries to a matte finish, so foundation glides on smoothly and doesn't slide off.
Skip-a-step bonus: It's moisturizing, so you don't need a separate day cream.
Excuse: "It's too late; the damage is already done"
The Truth: If you still think most sun damage occurs before you hit age 20, here's news: You get less than 25% of your total sun exposure by age 18, not the 80% experts used to believe. In fact, by age 40, you've soaked up only about half your total lifetime exposure. And no matter what your age, daily sunscreen use reduces damage and allows skin to repair itself, says Weiss.
Problem Solver: Protect skin and boost its natural repair abilities with NIA 24 Sun Damage Prevention 100% Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30 ($45; nia24.com). It contains Pro-Niacin, a form of vitamin B3 that helps erase past sun sins by improving skin hydration and minimizing dark spots.
54% of Americans got sunburned in the last 3 years. Protect your skin by applying sunscreen head to toe 20 minutes before going outdoors.
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