You know it, you hear it, you see the ads with the baby's butt on billboards. Wear sunscreen. Like punishment doled out in the principal's office, sun protection is nonnegotiable because it's the most critical factor in keeping skin healthy. It's best to make sunscreen a part of your daily regimen so you won't get unexpected exposure (or get a sunburn). Use a great moisturizer that you love that also contains an SPF 30 sunscreen and affords the protection you need. If you're going to be outside for sports, use a lotion with SPF 30 (for UVB) and a four-star rating (for UVA) and reapply every two hours.
Our recommendation: Always protect your face and the backs of your hands but allow your body to be exposed to some sun for a few minutes before your add sunscreen. A little redness in the skin signifies that vitamin D is being made. Here's a helpful hint: Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide sunscreens protect immediately, and newer versions of these sunscreens form a thin film rather than making you look as if you smeared crayon all over your face. All the rest of the sunscreens called chemical or organic sunscreens (misnomers if we ever heard one) take 20 minutes to absorbs into your skin before protecting. So get those few minutes of sun and then apply the zinc.
You need to slather all sunscreens on thickly and apply them evenly, making sure not to miss any spots such as the back of the neck, the top of the ears, and any exposed scalp. Most of us don't put on enough sunscreen, and if that's the case with you, then you're getting only half the effectiveness (if you're putting on SPF 30, it's more like SPF 15). You really need 1-2 ounces of sunscreen to cover your whole body.
Which product is the best? Look for ones that are hypoallergenic and noncomedogenic, because you don't want to cause other skin damage while trying to protect from sun damage. But don't put a lot of faith in those labels, since all creams can cause pimples and rashes. It's really hit or miss. Also make sure that your sunscreen is water-resistant so it doesn't end up in your eyes while the rest of the players on your team watch you drop the ball in painful anguish. Water-resistant also means it will stay on your body past the first droplet of sweat when you are hot. But even it if says "water-resistant," reapply it after swimming. By the way, hats and T-shirts don't provide enough SPF protection. Hats provide an SPF of 10 at the most, and T-shirts only about SPF 5 (but sun-protective clothing with higher SPFs is available).
Ever wonder what the heck the SPF numbers truly mean? An SPF of 1 means that your skin covered in SPF 1 would turn red in about 20 minutes; SPF 2 would require 40 minutes, and so on. The most common reason for sunscreen failure is using inadequate amounts.
This material came to you from YOU: Being Beautiful, by Michael F. Roizen, M.D., and Mehmet C. Oz, M.D.