June 23, 2012 -- This past year, Jennifer Aniston's life took some positive turns. One you may have missed: The former sun worshipper now reportedly uses SPF 60 during those frequent jaunts to Cabo, choosing to get her famous golden glow from spray tans instead.
Unfortunately, too few women are doing the same. About 90 percent of the 2 million new cases of nonmelanoma skin cancer diagnosed in the U.S. each year are caused by the sun, yet 34 percent of women still never use sunscreen.
Let us guess why: "It's too greasy." Or maybe "it stings." Or perhaps "the dog ate it"? Sorry, but we've heard it all before--and we're here to tell you that new textures, advanced ingredients, and genius technology solve the faults of old-school sunscreens. Allow us to introduce your new sun-blocking BFFs.
"It Burns My Skin"
A drink after work may take the sting out of an awful meeting with the boss, but alcohol does the opposite for your skin. Too bad many sunscreens are loaded with the stuff. They may also contain octinoxate (a cinnamon-based ingredient), PABA, and oxybenzone, which can cause allergic reactions like rashes. Not pretty.
To keep the pain out of your protection and keep your skin irritation-free, avoid those main culprits and choose a formula with a less-irritating chemical stabilizer (like octocrylene) or one that's considered a physical block and zinc-based. "Zinc sits on top of the skin rather than being absorbed into the skin, and it's so mild that it's the major component in diaper-rash creams, which are gentle enough to put on a baby's most sensitive areas," explains Robert Friedman, M.D., a dermatologic oncologist and clinical professor of dermatology at the NYU School of Medicine.
Try Banana Boat Natural Reflect Lotion SPF 50+, $11.49, available at drugstores.
"My Makeup Contains SPF"
Unless you're performing Kabuki on the beach, chances are you aren't wearing enough foundation or powder to stay safe. "Even if you're relying on a tinted mineral powder with SPF, it will not give you enough coverage unless you apply at least 10 times the normal amount," says Francesca Fusco, M.D., an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. "Judging by my patients, those who rely only on the SPF in their makeup always have areas that are missing coverage."
Get good coverage--of both sunscreen and makeup--with a tinted sunscreen. It's like a tinted moisturizer but with higher SPF and ingredients to help fade dark spots.
Try SkinCeuticals UV Defense SPF 50, $32, available at skinceuticals.com.
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"It Runs Into My Eyes When I Work Out"
Sure, it can happen--but not with every form of sunscreen.
Wax on! A waxy stick has polymers that latch onto the skin so that your sun protection stays put, even through major sweat sessions. Sweep the stick over your skin, applying a thin coat onto your entire face. Then rub it in to make sure you're completely covered. Or smooth on your regular facial sunscreen lotion, then use the stick block just around your eyes (including eyelids, brow bones, and under-eye areas): The waxiness will form a barrier so the lotion doesn't drip below your brows and get into your eyes. Bonus: A waxy stick is also great for covering small spots like lips, ears, and even your hair part.
Try Burt's Bees Baby Bee SPF 30 Sunscreen Stick, $10, available at drugstores.
"It Makes My Acne or Rosacea Worse"
Rich oil-based creams can trap dirt and sweat on the skin--and cause pimples. And while chemicals like avobenzone don't actually cause breakouts, they can aggravate existing acne, rosacea, and redness by "creating a heat reaction on the skin, which causes blood vessels to dilate and makes skin red and inflamed," says Kathy Fields, M.D., an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at the University of California at San Francisco.
For you, less truly is more. The shorter the ingredient list, the fewer potentially irritating fillers the product likely contains. On the definitely-avoid list? Oil, fragrance, and chemical sunscreens. Mineral blocks such as zinc and titanium, on the other hand, can actually help: By reflecting heat energy off the skin, they minimize redness. Find them in a gel formula and your skin will feel even cooler. Finally, be sure the product is labeled noncomedogenic, which means the company tested it to make sure the ingredients don't clog pores, according to Fields.
Try MD Solar Sciences SPF 30+ Mineral Screen Gel, $25, available at mdsolarsciences.com.
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