As the days lengthen and we ease into the sunniest (and muggiest) time of the year, adequate SPF becomes even more essential. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, skin cancer is the most common cancer in the U.S.— but it's also treatable if detected early.
Dr. Patricia Farris, clinical associate professor at Tulane University's dermatology department, recommends patients self-examine their moles each month, looking for changes that may signal melanoma. These warning signs include asymmetry, irregular borders or colors, a diameter greater than that of a pencil eraser or an increase in size.
"Looking at your moles and noticing changes is very important," Farris says. "If you have a new lesion or it's growing, that is something to have checked."
The right sunscreen can protect not only against melanoma (the deadliest form of skin cancer), but also against skin aging.
"Pigmentation and wrinkles come from sun exposure," Farris says. "Longer UVA rays break down collagen, and that contributes to wrinkling."
Farris, dermatologist Dr. Mary Lupo and esthetician Eris Khalil share their top sunscreen picks.
"Eucerin makes a wonderful daily facial moisturizer. We recommend people wear at least an SPF 30. A moisturizer with SPF goes into the skin nicely, but remember an SPF sunscreen, worn with a foundation with SPF 15, won't give you an SPF 45. It's not a cumulative effect." —Dr. Patricia Farris, a partner at Old Metairie Dermatology and clinical associate professor at Tulane University's dermatology department.
"I use and recommend Elta MD Broad Spectrum SPF 50. The main ingredient is 9 percent zinc oxide, with two boosting organic sun filters: 7.5 percent octinoxate and 5 percent octisalate. [It's a] very substantive cream formula that resists sweat and water, but all sunscreens need regular re-application. I'm not a big fan of sprays. I also take HelioCare Ultra, an oral sunscreen booster." — Dr. Mary Lupo, dermatologist and founder of Lupo Center For Aesthetic and General Dermatology.
"TiZO stands for titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. This sunscreen is fabulous. It's broad-spectrum and water-resistant for up to 80 minutes. When we put it on, water just beads off, like a duck. It's the best protection for sports, festivals, ball games or swimming." — Eris Khalil, lead esthetician at Chronos Day Spa.
HOW TO SELECT A SUNSCREEN
Choosing the right sunscreen can help reduce the risk of skin cancer and early skin aging caused by the sun.
The American Academy of Dermatology recommends consumers choose a sunscreen that states on the label:
Means a sunscreen protects the skin from ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays, both of which can cause cancer.
SPF 30 OR HIGHER
How well a sunscreen protects you from sunburn.
WATER RESISTANT OR VERY WATER RESISTANT
For up to 40 or 80 minutes. Sunscreens are not waterproof or sweatproof and need to be reapplied.
1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime.
ONE OUNCE OF SUNSCREEN,enough to fill a shot glass, is considered the amount needed to cover the exposed areas of the body.