20s: Lather Up
Here's a secret you might not know: We all need the same level of sun protection, says Neal Schultz, M.D. This means that even in your 20s you can't get away with tanning oils that work like Crisco to bake you to a crispy, brown tan. In fact, this is where you need to be the most SPF-conscious. The amount of sun exposure and damage you get now will determine the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles as you age. If you're going to be outside all day, reapply your sunscreen every two to three hours.
Try Coppertone Sport SPF 30 for all-day coverage, $9.99, walgreens.com.
20s: Choose a Light Formula
It's not your age that determines what type of sunscreen you should be using as much as it's matching your skin type (normal, oily, dry) with the right product, says Schultz. In your 20s, your skin can often be at its oiliest, so it's important to choose an oil-free formula with both UVA and UVB protection. Double up with a moisturizing SPF like GoClear Moisturizing Sunscreen SPF 15 and get in the routine of applying it every morning, even when you're not headed for the beach.
Try these fixes for oily skin when you're off the sand.
Slather Up Smartly
30s: Make Sure It Feels Good
Another reason not to buy a super-high SPF: As SPF increases, so does its thickness. As the formula gets thicker, people are less likely to reapply it — a huge mistake. Schultz stresses picking an SPF 30 and making sure it feels good on your skin, so you are more apt to reapply it. If you don't want to have to rub it in every few hours, choose a spray like Clinique Sun SPF 25 Body Spray, and apply it thoroughly and evenly on your body, so you don't miss spots or get a streaky tan. Can't make it to the beach? Learn how to fake your tan.
40s: For All Over: Go for the Lotion, Not the Cream
We might love creamy, mousse-like products, but picking a sunscreen with this formula will be more work than it's worth. In your 40s your skin isn't as oily as it was in your 20s, making it easier to choose a sunscreen for your skin type. But be wary of labels. Schultz says you still need to reapply sunscreen, even if the bottle says it's waterproof. "There is no formula that is completely waterproof through sweating and swimming," Schultz says. "You should be reapplying every two to three hours."
Opt for an SPF with antioxidants; it will replenish your skin and ward off fine lines and wrinkles that may be forming. We like Hawaiian Tropic Sheer Touch Lotion Sunscreen SPF 15, $8.99, drugstore.com.
40s: For Your Face: Pick Creams for Contouring
In your 40s, you might start to see more defined wrinkles as well as some contour issues, Schultz says. Switching out your regular moisturizer for an anti-aging, firming one like Olay Regenerist DNA Superstructure UV Cream SPF 25, will tighten up your skin while keeping you protected from the sun.
50s and Beyond: Hydrate Your Skin
As you reach your 50s and beyond, your skin is mature, which means it's low in water and oil. Here, thicker sunscreens aren't terrible. If you're still not crazy about the goopy stuff, choose a lightweight, hydrating formula to replenish skin and keep it moisturized. Patricia Wexler M.D. Daily Defense Anti-Oxidant Tinted Moisturizer SPF 30 strengthens your skin and goes on light, making it a perfect base for makeup.
50s and Beyond: Don't Forget the UVA
No matter how old you are or what your skin type is, Schultz says it's important to pick a dual sunscreen with UVB and UVA protection. UVA doesn't have any effect on how thick your sunscreen is, so you just want to make sure you pick a formula that includes both or says "broad spectrum." Try Estée Lauder Bronze Goddess Sunscreen SPF 30 for your face. When applying it, Schultz says you should use a quarter-sized amount.
Try these tips to look seven years younger.