What's Your SPF?
Sunscreen packaging was always a little confusing: what’s the difference between sunblock and sunscreen, waterproof and water-resistant, broad-spectrum and UVA/UVB protection? Not anymore! The FDA passed new guidelines in 2011 meaning you’ll notice new packaging rolling out on all sunscreen this year. Buzzwords like “sunblock,” “waterproof,” and “sweat-proof” are no more, instead you’ll see ‘water-resistant’ for solutions that stay on wet skin for either 40 or 80 minutes and ‘broad-spectrum’ on formulas meeting the highest protection levels of UVA and UVB rays. (UVB are the rays that burn skin, while UVA are the rays that age skin, in a nutshell; you need protection on both and should always look for ‘broad-spectrum’.) Sunscreens that don’t meet the higher UVA requirements will be dubbed ‘UVA/UVB protection’ only and you’ll now find warning labels about sun damage on anything under SPF 15, since new studies have shown that low SPFs prevent burns, but not skin cancer--a scary thought! No matter what formula, scent, or consistency you prefer, everything in the following slideshow is broad-spectrum and at least SPF 30--so sunbathe away!
Aveeno Protect + Hydrate Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 30 ($10)
Aveeno’s known for oatmeal-infused lotions that are ideal for sensitive or dry skin and their newest sunscreen is no exception. This formula nourishes and hydrates while providing SPF 30, broad-spectrum protection. It has a classic sunscreen scent, is oil-free, and soaks into skin immediately, making it one of our favorites for everyday protection.
Neutrogena Beach Defense Sunscreen Lotion Broad Spectrum SPF 70 ($11)
Attention sunbathers: Neutrogena’s broad-spectrum beach defense is SPF 70! You still need to apply every two hours (or every 80 minutes if you’re swimming or sweating). The creamy formula has a light, sweet scent that doesn’t smell at all like sunscreen. (Also comes in a spray formula.)
Australian Gold Sheer Coverage Broad Spectrum SPF 50 Spray ($12)
Imagine a bronzing oil with all the protection of a thick white SPF. Here it is! Australia Gold’s newest formula sprays on like an oil, leaves skin with a bronzy glow, and smells like old-school tanning oil. But underneath all of that it’s a broad-spectrum SPF 50 protectant that’s water-resistant for 80 minutes.
Alba Botanica Very Emollient Sunscreen Sport Spray SPF 40 ($11)
Want a spray sunscreen without the stickiness of aerosol? This one’s for you. Alba Botanica’s newest SPF is a spray bottle of milky sunscreen that, while it still needs to be rubbed in, is evenly distributed by the spray pump. The formula soaks in like a normal lotion and offers broad-spectrum SPF 40 protection that is water-resistant for 80 minutes.
Murad Essential-C Sun Balm Broad Spectrum SPF 35 ($25)
A sunscreen stick is perfect for making sure your hands, feet, neck, ears, nose--you name it--are protected on the go. Murad’s newest broad-spectrum balm glides on and protects with SPF 35, but won’t spill in your purse. Vitamins A, C, and E nourish skin while broccoli extract helps defends against UV rays. Do you get gel manicures? Smooth this onto your hands before they hit the UV light.
Elta MD UV Aero Broad Spectrum SPF 45 ($30)
Elta MD’s newest SPF sprays on white to ensure even coverage, but dries clear. Its broad-spectrum SPF 45 formula is water-resistant for 80 minutes, and protects with zinc oxide. It’s free of oil, fragrance, and parabens, plus it’s non-comedogenic (no clogged pores here!) and safe for sensitive skin. Bonus? The top twists to lock so you won’t accidently spray the inside of your beach bag.
Dr. T’s Supergoop Continuous Mist Broad Spectrum SPF 30 ($19)
This sunscreen mist is infused with antioxidant vitamin C, to fight free radicals and brighten skin, and natural citrus oils for a light, fresh scent. It isn’t greasy, but still has less alcohol than many aerosols. The spray provides broad-spectrum SPF 30 protection and is water-resistant for 80 minutes.
Nature’s Gate Aqua Broad Spectrum SPF 50 Aqua Sunscreen ($7)
Designed for water sports, this formula is the thickest on our list and gets its SPF 50 from a mix of zinc oxide and chemical sunscreen ingredients. It’s water-resistant for 80 minutes, but because of its thick formula it’s a great option for prolonged surfing, snorkeling, or swimming. It’s also hydrating, thanks to added ingredients like chamomile, shea butter, and rosemary.