We’re gearing up for a summer of fun in the sun and that means getting our sun-care plan situated. If you’re suffering from SPF info overload, we’re here to say you’re not alone. The flow of information on this buzz-worthy topic is in a constant state of nearly viral activity and seems to be peaking with summer vacations on the horizon. It’s this feeling of oversaturation that led us to get a few of our most pressing questions answered once and for all. We tapped Austin-based dermatologist Dr. Ted Lain to give us the details on everything we need to know before hitting the sand, shore, or any other sunny locale this summer. Consider this advice your other beach bag must-have.
We’re seeing powder sunscreens, oil sunscreens, and now even glitter sunscreens taking over our sun protection aisles. Are all sunscreens created equal?
You’re covered as long are you’re purchasing from a well-known, highly regarded manufacturer, the label says broad spectrum, you’re applying the correct amount initially, and reapplying.
Speaking of application, how much are we talking here?
The average adult needs 1 ounce of sunscreen to cover all areas exposed to the sun when sunbathing or swimming, but most use much less than that, effectively reducing the SPF factor listed on the label.
If sensitive skin isn’t an issue, is it still necessary to use a face sunscreen?
Yes, sunscreens labeled for the face are non-comedogenic, meaning they won’t cause acne, and often contain additional ingredients to boost sun protection (antioxidants) and decrease redness (niacinamide).
Are there any sunscreen options that are better than others?
It’s not necessarily about any one specific product, but more about using trusted brands. A few of my favorites are Neutrogena, Aveeno, La Roche-Posay, Supergoop, and Blue Lizard.
What’s the one place people consistently forget to apply sunscreen?
The lower lip is often overlooked in our sun safety efforts and is particularly susceptible to the effects of sun exposure. Many lip products now contain SPF protection, but make sure you select one that has at least SPF 30 and is labeled broad spectrum.
And, finally, is it possible to get sunburned through your nails?
In short, yes. The good news is nearly all polishes absorb UVA and therefore provide protection.
WATCH: What Should You Put on First: Sunscreen or Moisturizer?
Take Dr. Lain’s advice and stock up on that SPF this summer—and maybe a few extra bottles of Ballet Slippers.