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
Stay below SPF 50.
If it says SPF 70, it's marketing hype. SPF measures the percentage of UVB rays blocked: SPF 15 blocks 93 percent of rays, SPF 30 blocks 97 percent, and SPF 50 blocks 98 percent. Anything higher adds little extra protection, which is why the FDA is considering banning labels over SPF 50 from store shelves. Dermatologists recommend an SPF between 30 and 50 for optimal protection.
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