Every year, you hear something different about sunscreen – it's essential, it's toxic, they're all the same, SPF values are nothing but hype. We decided to cut through the noise and go to the experts. First, it pays to know what you're buying – not all sunscreens are created equal, and some are worthless. "It's fine to pick up any sunscreen off the shelf if you don't care about sun safety, premature aging, the health of your skin, or the environment," says Dr. Robert Friedman, a dermatologist at NYU's Langone Medical Center. "But if you care about any of these things or you have sensitive skin, you need to be careful about what you use." How to do that? Follow these rules to get an effective, safe sunscreen. Launch Gallery >>
Photograph by Donna Trope
Beware of oxybenzone.
Beware of oxybenzone. This chemical is an active ingredient in most commercial sunscreens, but it irritates skin and creates cell-damaging free radicals when exposed to UV rays. Preliminary research also suggests it may lower sperm count and raise cancer risk. Instead, look for sunscreens with avobenzone, which works like oxybenzone but doesn't pose known health concerns.
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