Choosing the Best Sunscreen

Over Memorial Weekend, avoid damaging sun by splattering, spraying sunscreen.

ByAMEYA PENDSE via via logo
May 29, 2010, 2:44 PM

May 29, 2010 — -- If you're heading to the beach this Memorial Day weekend, bring sunscreen. But with so many choices on the shelves, how can you choose which one is best for you and your family?

Sunscreen spray has become the most user-friendly these days, but many still cling to their lotions.

"It's all about personal preference," said Frances Largeman-Roth, a senior editor for Health magazine.

She tested sunscreen products and compiled a list that will keep you and your family safe from the sun's rays.

Largeman-Roth said, "The Banana Boat Ultra Defense SPF 85, we loved it because it absorbs on contact and it's a continuous spray. So if you have little kids who love to run away from you when you put the sunscreen on, just grab them, spray them down, and it absorbs on contact. And it's non-greasy."

As far as sunscreen lotion, Largeman-Roth recommends Neutragena Spectrum+ Advanced SPF 55.

"It will not clog your pores," she said. "It's all about finding one that works for you, one that you like the scent of, or maybe you're looking for fragrance-free. This is a fragrance-free product. Whatever works for you, you'll use. If you hate it, you're not going to put it on."

Many are making sure that they are choosing the right SPF to penetrate the skin to protect against UVA rays.

In the fall, there will be new regulations, Largeman-Roth said, "But for now, you can still get up to 85, up to 100, but really over 50. They can't guarantee how much extra protection it will give you, but dermatologists always say at least 30."

There are a few products that work best for kids, such as Aveeno Baby Continuous Protection, SPF 50.

"This one is really great because it locks in moisture on a baby's skin," Largeman-Roth said. "Babies lose moisture more easily, and of course, they have more sensitive skin."

This Memorial Day weekend may see a lot more people getting active outdoors.

For "athletes," Mission Skincare is a fast-drying spray, Largeman-Roth said, pointing to well-known athletes who use the product such as soccer champ Mia Hamm and tennis star Serena Williams.

"It is sweat-proof, waterproof, and it also won't stain your clothes. A lot of them will get on your clothes and leave an oily-slick stain," Largeman-Roth said.

Reapply Sunscreen Every Two Hours

If someone is really concerned about their skin, Coppertone Sensitive Skin has zinc oxide in it.

"If you react to PABA (para-amino benzoic acid) or parabens, or some of the other things that are in other sunscreens, this is really for you," she said. "Zinc oxide, surfers have used it for years and years and years. It's a definitive barrier on the skin, and you won't burn."

There's truly a method to how much sunscreen to put on and how often: Think of a whole shot glass full or two tablespoons over your entire body, Largeman-Roth said.

Even if the label says the sunscreen is waterproof, "You have to slather up every two hours," she said. "The chemicals break down over time, over those two hours, so you have to reapply. And put it on 15 or 30 minutes before you head outside."

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