Burning Questions

New sunscreens have SPFs over 100. But here's what experts say you really need to know to save your skin.


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SunscreenNew sunscreens have SPFs over 100. So here’s the lowdown on what experts say about those skyrocketing numbers.

To prevent skin cancer, sunburn, and early skin aging, dermatologists recommend a water resistant, broad spectrum (blocks UVA and UVB rays) SPF between 30 and 50. Why do we see products with much higher numbers? Marketing, basically. Higher numbers make us think we’re getting better protection, but proof is lacking according to the FDA, which has proposed capping SPFs at 50 to limit unrealistic claims.

So skip the overblown numbers and save your skin with five simple tips from the American Academy of  Dermatology:

• Apply sunscreen 15 minutes before going out in the sun. Exception: Products with titanium dioxide or zinc oxide are effective immediately.

• Spread lotion in thin layer on dry skin (or use enough spray for a glossy sheen as it goes on).

• Reapply product every two hours.

• Seek shade whenever you are taller than your shadow.

• Wear protective clothing, hats, and sunglasses.

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