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As the sun finally comes out of hiding, it’s time to up our SPF to avoid wrinkles and lessen the risk of skin cancer, right? Well, there’s a bit more to think about when choosing a sunscreen.

Sunscreens shield us from dangerous ultraviolet (UV) rays in two ways – some scatter the light and reflect it away from our bodies. Others absorb the UV rays before they reach our skin.

When sunscreens first became popular in the 1990s, people looked for a high sun protection factor (SPF). “SPF refers to the blockage of UVB rays only,” says Dr. David Leffell, a professor of dermatology at surgery at the Yale School of Medicine. More recently, research has shown UVA rays also increase skin cancer risk. UVA rays don’t cause sunburn, but they penetrate deeply and cause wrinkles.

What we really need to look for in a good sunscreen is multi-spectrum protection for both UVB and UVA rays. Dr. Leffell advises buying a multi-spectrum sunscreen that contains at least one of the following: ecamsule, avobenzone, oxybenzone, titanium dioxide, sulisobenzone or zinc oxide.

FYI, higher SPF doesn’t mean an equivalent percent of increased protection. SPF 15 filters out 93% of UVB while SPF 30 filters out 97%. Dr. Leffell says most folks are fine with SPF 15, but if you have fair skin, a family history of skin cancer or conditions such as lupus that increase sensitivity to sunlight you should consider SPF 30. Personally, I’d rather go too high, than too low.

There’s a plethora of products to choose from including: La Roche-Posay Anthelios 60 Ultra Light Sunscreen Fluid; Clarins UV Day Screen High Protection SPF40; Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunblock SPF 45; and Aveeno Positively Ageless SPF70 For Face.

Whatever you do, don’t skimp…slather it on regularly!

TIPS

  • Water babies and outdoor exercisers should get a sunscreen resistant to water and sweat. These can last from 40-80 minutes in the water. Remember to reapply after taking a dip.
  • Apply sunscreen 15-30 minutes before going out. You can put it on under makeup. Make sure you cover all bits of exposed skin.
  • Use a UV-protective lip balm regularly.
  • Reapply sunscreen every two hours if you are going to be outside for a long time.
  • Wear sunscreen even when it’s cloudy – up to 80% of dangerous UV rays still get through.

Sunscreen/ SPF Products

Makeup Base Sunscreen:

Vichy Idéal Soleil Ultra Light Lotion – $26

For the ultimate face protection. This product contains Mexoryl XL®, the top recommended filter among dermatologists, along with other powerful filters such as Octocrylene and Avobenzone, to protect the skin from UVA and UVB rays. Its light, oil-free formula and fast-drying texture hydrates your skin without leaving white or sticky residue behind, making it the perfect makeup base. Choose from SPF 30 or SPF 50.
Available at http://www.vichy.ca/.

Vichy Idéal Soleil Invisible Mist – $32

For face and body protection. This product contains Mexoryl XL®, the top recommended filter among dermatologists, along with other powerful filters such as Octocrylene and Avobenzone, to protect the skin from UVA and UVB rays. The continuous spray format allows for quick application. Easy to use, dries quickly and leaves the skin hydrated. Serves as an excellent makeup base. Choose from SPF 30 and SPF 50.
Available at http://www.vichy.ca/.

Organic Sunscreen:

Éminence Tropical Vanilla Body SPF 32 – $49

For body protection. Protect your skin from UVA and UVB rays with the all-natural defenses of zinc and herbal ingredients in this organic, handmade sunscreen. Zinc oxide is astringent and soothing, helps in healing appearance of skin irritations and blocks UVA/ UVB rays. Also contains shea butter, a natural sunscreen that hydrates skin and Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate, a clear liquid compound that absorbs UVB light. Vanilla scent is therapeutically calming and soothing.
Available at http://buynaturalskincare.com/.

Water/ Sweat Resistant Sunscreen:

Clinique Broad Spectrum Sunscreen for Face and for Body – $27 and $29

For face and body protection, each sold separately. Clinique’s innovative SolarSmart™ technology activates an anti-aging repair process while strongly defending the skin from the harmful aging and burning effects of UVA and UVB rays. The unique formula is also infused with antioxidants to additionally shield the skin from environmental aggressors. It is gentle for sensitive skin, water and sweat resistant, and oil-free. For Clinique Broad Spectrum Sunscreen for the face, choose from SPF 30 or SPF 50.
Available at http://www.clinique.ca/ and http://www.sephora.com/.

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Maureen LittleJohn

Maureen Littlejohn is Culture Magazin’s executive editor. She is a Canadian award-winning journalist who has practiced her craft around the world including in the United States, Africa and Vietnam. Currently based in Toronto, she has a keen eye for detail and has a deep appreciation for the “East Meets West” approach of Culture Magazin. Travel is her passion and she is happy to be able to share her adventures on a regular basis with the magazine’s readers.