As simple as it sounds, reading labels is crucial for your skin health. “We want broad coverage when applying topical sunscreens,” says Fusco, citing the need to shield against UVA rays (responsible for tans) and UVB rays (responsible for sunburns), as both contribute to sun damage. Luckily, today every major brand offers a broad spectrum with comprehensive protection— whether physically, in the form of a mineral-boasting protective barrier on the skin to block UV rays, or chemically, in which compounds absorb UV radiation into the skin and then release the energy as heat.
New, sophisticated physical formulas (zinc oxide or titanium dioxide) squash the notion that zinc only belongs on the noses of 1980s lifeguards. Hampton Sun’s SPF 45 Mineral Sunscreen Crème contains micronized zinc that “dissipates and absorbs right on the skin, so it’s pleasant to wear every day, as you should,” says the brand’s CEO and founder, Salvatore Piazzolla. Green Screen from Farmacy blends antioxidantrich Echinacea Greenenvy with mineral-based SPF 30 for an evenly toned, protected complexion.
Known to spread more thinly, chemical formulas contain filters like avobenzone, oxybenzone, and octinoxate, take 20 minutes to absorb into the skin, and “[allow] the cosmetics industry to add antiagers like peptides and still leave it effective,” says Fusco. Silky finishes in recent products like Moroccanoil’s Sun Lotion SPF 30 and Sunscreen Care Milk-lotion Spray SPF 50+ from Clarins make the application feel more like a spa treatment.
For those not sure which kind to choose, Wetforce Sports BB SPF 50+ from Shiseido and Clé de Peau’s UV Protective Emulsion for Body SPF 50+ contain both physical and chemical ingredients.
clockwise from top: UV Protective Emulsion for Body SPF 50+, Clé de Peau Beauté ($90). Neiman Marcus, Bal Harbour Shops, 9700 Collins Ave., 305-865-6161; neiman marcus.com. Sports BB Broad Spectrum SPF 50+ Wetforce, phiseido ($38). Sephora, 721...