As the summer—and, let’s face it, sometimes sunburn—season kicks off, it’s time to start bringing out the warm weather accessories. Sunscreen is an essential item for safe summertime fun, but which to choose?
Faced with a daunting array of options—various SPFs, spray-on, rub-on, active, sport, waterproof, gentle, all-natural—at some point, you, like me, may find yourself standing in the supermarket aisle in confusion as you try to pinpoint exactly which type of sunscreen will work best for you.
The first thing to know is that sunscreen’s SPF rating refers to its level of protection from UVB rays. However, there is no current rating system for UVA rays, which are the rays that cause skin to age and wrinkle. Always look for a sunscreen with UVA and UVB protection, also known as broad-spectrum protection.
Here’s a handy guide that will help you choose the best sunscreen to ward off those damaging UV rays.
Best sunscreen for: Those with sensitive skin
Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen, Sensitive, SPF 30. Chemical and fragrance-free, with broad-spectrum protection from both UVA and UVB rays, this lotion is a great choice for those with sensitive skin or those who have experienced a reaction to chemical-based sunscreens in the past.
Best sunscreen for: Those who burn easily
Elta MD UV Sport, SPF 50. This lotion is broad spectrum, water resistant and non-greasy. Keep in mind, though, that researchers have found sunscreens with a higher SPF rating can sometimes create a false sense of security and lead users to stay in the sun for longer than they should. If you burn easily, always remember to reapply every two to three hours.
Best sunscreen for: Active individuals, swimmers, outdoor athletes
Coppertone Sport High Performance Spray, SPF 50. A higher SPF rating ensures maximum protection even while swimming or sweating. Because it’s a spray, this sunscreen can also be easily reapplied as needed.
Best sunscreen for: Those who like to sunbathe
Aveeno Protect + Hydrate Lotion, SPF 70. This sunscreen provides great broad-spectrum protection for prolonged periods of intense sun exposure. It’s also sweat-resistant and includes nourishing oat to moisturize skin and prevent it from drying out.