SPF Rules Every Woman Should Know
Melanoma rates are on the rise among women, and now experts say the sun isn’t the only cause. The lifesaving info you need—and the mole test readers swear by—are here.
1. Switch to SPF versions of skin-care products you already use.
Body lotions, makeup and even some facial soaps now have SPF in them. Start off every day with a facial moisturizer that has UVA and UVB protection and an SPF of 15 or more.
2. Amp up coverage for the outdoors.
Days spent outside require more protection than your makeup or moisturizer can give. Choose a sunscreen with at least SPF 30 and UVA and UVB protection, and slather on all exposed areas.
3. Ignore the new “UVC” hype.
“Some companies have been listing UVC protection on their sunscreen labels as a marketing tool,” says Dr. Marmur. “It’s a total scam by people just to make a buck. You don’t need it! While UVC rays really are the strongest, most damaging type of ultraviolet light, they are almost completely blocked by the atmosphere, unless you’re at incredibly high altitudes, like climbing Mt. Everest.”
4. Reapply, reapply, reapply!
If you don’t, you may be worse off than if you’d never put on sunscreen at all. A controversial study found that when UV rays hit some sunscreen ingredients (octylmethoxycinnamate, octocrylene and oxybenzone), more skin-damaging free radicals are formed than if your skin were bare. But that reaction occurs only when the sunscreen breaks down after prolonged exposure to sun, and reapplying every two hours reduces that risk. There are some sunscreens without these ingredients (like the Neutrogena one above). But, says Rebecca Kazin, M.D., a dermatologist at Johns Hopkins, “most dermatologists I know, myself included, still use sunscreen with oxybenzone.” No matter what’s in your sunscreen, experts agree: You must reapply.
Clockwise from top left:
Powder wearers get an SPF 20 boost with Dior Bronze Matte Powder ($40, sephora.com).
Sunscreens with antioxidant vitamins, like Coppertone NutraShield Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30 with Dual Defense ($11, at drugstores), may give your skin extra protection against free radicals.
Neutrogena Sensitive Skin Sunblock Lotion SPF 60+ with PureScreen ($10, at drugstores) has no oxybenzone (see rule #4, above).
Even out skin tone and block UV rays at the same time: BareMinerals SPF 30 Natural Sunscreen for Tan Skin Tones ($28).
Get protection, and a hint of nude color, for your lips with Colorescience Sunforgettable SPF 30 Sun Salve in Naked ($23).