Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen. By now you know that you need to wear it 365 days a year, outdoors and indoors, rain or shine. That it helps prevent melanoma, a skin cancer that kills approximately 3,000 U.S. women annually. And that it’s the easiest and often the most inexpensive way to help prevent wrinkles and dark spots. The next issue at hand: Which products protect skin best? Enter Mary H. Lien, a respected dermatologist and a melanoma specialist at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute, in Tampa, who shares her picks. “I like products that offer serious UV protection,” she says. “And studies have shown that when you wear sunscreen combined with topical antioxidants, like vitamin C, you can reverse signs of sun damage you already have.”
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For the Face
The doctor favors sunscreens with lightweight, matte formulas, since they work well under makeup. “Use separate, dime-size dollops for the chin, forehead, nose, and each cheek,” she says. “It may seem like a lot, but it will be fully absorbed in minutes.”
For Oily Skin
Lien, who has this skin type and lives in year-round sun, covers her face, chest, arms, and hands with (1) Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunblock SPF 100+ ($12 at drugstores). “It’s nongreasy and has the highest SPF,” she says. “It also contains Helioplex to make the protection last.” If you’re mostly indoors, try Estée Lauder DayWear Advanced Multi- Protection Anti-Oxidant Lotion SPF 15 ($48, esteelauder.com).
For Normal Skin
When patients want light, no-fuss protection on an average day ( just going to the office, for example), Lien recommends (2) Olay Complete All Day Moisture Lotion SPF 15 ($9 at drugstores). If you are planning to be outside, she stands by the stronger, perspiration-resistant Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunblock SPF 100+ ($12 at drugstores).
For Dry Skin
If your skin calls for a creamier formula, Lien likes (3) Lancôme Bienfait Multi-Vital SPF 30 Cream ($46, lancome-usa.com), which contains vitamins E and B5 to “help repair skin and shield against aging free radicals,” she says. Outdoorsy types can try La Roche-Posay Anthelios 60 Melt-In Sunscreen Lotion ($30 at drugstores). “I use it when traveling to arid climates,” says Lien.
For Sensitive Skin
If patients react to dyes, fragrances, chemicals, and preservatives in sunblocks, Lien suggests (4) Vanicream Sensitive Skin Sunscreen SPF 60 ($18, vanicream.com for stores). “It contains zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to offer both UVA and UVB protection,” she says. Lien also likes Aveeno Ultra-Calming Daily Moisturizer SPF 15 ($17 at drugstores) for everyday use.
Use a protective lip balm each day. Lien prefers emollient, petrolatum-based salves, like (5) Blistex Daily Conditioning Treatment for Lips SPF 20 ($3 at drugstores), over waxy sticks, which can wick moisture away from lips and contribute to dryness and chapping.
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For the Body
Her trick to determine if you’ve applied enough sunscreen: Place a tissue on your skin. If it sticks, you’re covered; if it doesn’t, add another coat. And don’t neglect your legs. They’re one of the most common spots for melanoma to occur in women.
For a Day Outdoors
Lien wears (1) Solumbra clothing and a hat when at the beach, hiking, or Rollerblading. The moisture-wicking, sun-protective fabrics block more than 90 percent of UVA and UVB rays, as opposed to the SPF 3 equivalent you get from a standard white T-shirt. (Solumbra, from $43, sunprecautions.com for info.)
For Eye Protection
The sun can cause a host of problems for your eyes, from crow’s feet to cataracts. Lien shields hers with (2) Oakley sunglasses (from $120, oakley.com). “They filter out 100 percent of harmful rays and reduce glare. Plus, they don’t slip off when I’m playing sports,” she says. The UV protection is built into the lenses, so it won’t scratch or wear off.
For Playing Outside
Before a swim or a sweaty game of beach volleyball, Lien applies a shot glass–size amount of (3) Neutrogena Ultimate Sport Sunblock Lotion SPF 70 ($13 at drugstores). Lien diligently reapplies about every two hours and right after swimming.
For Added Protection
In addition to a daily multivitamin, Lien recommends two 500-milligram tablets of (4) Nature Made Vitamin C ($13 at drugstores). Studies have shown that vitamin C helps fight sun-induced free radicals in the body. “It boosts the immune system overall and helps keep my skin looking young,” says Lien.
For the Easiest Reapplication
When at the beach with her daughter, Lien likes to use (5) Coppertone Kids Continuous Spray SPF 70+ ($12 at drugstores). It’s clean and simple to apply on sandy skin. Since sprays don’t always offer adequate, even coverage, and because the wind can carry them away, Lien advises patients to use a cream or a lotion for their first coat and a spray for midday reapplications.