Buy Sunscreen Without Getting Burned

Woman and Child with Sunscreen

Thirty bucks for a tiny tube of sunscreen? 

Forget the fancy packaging and focus on these factors to get the most protection:

  • DO Choose a higher SPF. Get one between 30 and 50 SPF, reapply often, and zero in on easily missed spots, like nostrils and ears, says dermatologist Karen Burke, MD, a spokesperson for the Skin Cancer Foundation.
  • DON’T Go above 50 SPF. According to the FDA there is no proof that numbers over 50 give extra protection, and some researchers worry they may encourage you to stay in the sun too long.
  • DO Look for the words “broad-spectrum” and “water-resistant.” Broad-spectrum protects you from both UVA and UVB rays; you need a water-resistant sunscreen even if you don’t plan to swim because they also tend to be sweat-resistant.
  • DON’T use products with oxybenzone or retinyl palmitate. Oxybenzone is an endocrine disrupter; retinyl palmitate has been linked to an increased risk of sun cancer, and Consumer Reports suggests pregnant women should avoid it.


Marisa Cohen is a freelance writer living in New York City.

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