Sun Protection Buying Guide

Whether you're a beach bum or an indoor cat, you should really have protection from sun exposure--however however long (or brief) it may be.

Before we start, you should know: 

  • Sunscreen  and sunblock  have 2 to 3 year lifespans. Always store them in a cool location - heat destroys the chemical properties.
  • Apply sunscreen and sunblock liberally! It should feel like you're putting on too much, but  after a few minutes your skin will absorb it. If the skin absorbs is all immediately, then you need more!
  • Sweat-resistant ,waterproof  and water-resistant  are the same thing. These sun protection lotions will keep from running and sweating off in the heat, but if you jump in the pool you should reapply--even if the bottle says you don't need to. Between the sun and the water, your sunblock is likely to melt in the heat and then rinse right off in the water.
  • That being said, you should reapply every 2 hours or more frequently if you sweat or go in the water.
  • If using on the face, apply the sunscreen before you put on makeup . Likewise, do the same if you plan to layer it with bug repellent .


If you want to avoid the mess factor, try a spray sunscreen . They are usually lightweight and they make even application a cinch. Unfortunately, they are probably not formulated as a sunblock, and the SPF tends to be lower. For kids, try Banana Boat Kid Spray Sunscreen , recommended by


Another less messy way of applying sunblock is in a tube or stick  formula, such as Tattoo Balm Stick . For people who are active and tend to be on the go, it is an easy to tote form of sun protection. Plus because of the slim form, it is easy to apply on forgotten spots, such as ears, around the eyes, lips and nose. These usually contain sunblock and sometimes sunscreen.


Sunscreen lotion  is very common and does help add moisture to the skin. It's very easy to apply, but it may not always absorb quickly. Choose the thickness of the lotion or cream depending on your skin type. Look for heavy creams with jojoba oil or Shea butter in them for dry skin and very light, non-comodegenic lotions for oily skin.

The Bare Minimum

We've all heard of "SPF," but do we really know what it means? SPF stands for "Sun Protection Factor," so the number following it refers to the amount of protection you get. An SPF 15 may be fine if you aren't in the sun often, but if you're spending a day at the beach you should really be wearing an SPF 30 or higher.

  • Minimum SPF 15: For basic, everyday exposure for short periods of time a 15 SPF is sufficient. During winter months, moisturisers with 15 SPF are the least amount of daily protection you should have. Extended periods of exposure, such as playing sports or going to the beach, require a higher SPF, preferably around 30 or higher. If you sweat a lot, are in high altitudes or are near the equator, always choose higher sun protection.
  • Light Skin Minimum SPF 30:  For light-skinned adults, an SPF 30  is best. Those with medium to dark skin may enjoy a lower SPF, usually around 15 (the lowest SPF you should use), and perhaps even an oil-based tan enhancer. Mind you, tanning oils of 2 and 4 SPF levels are not protective of the skin except for the natural moisturising qualities of the oil. They do very little to keep your skin from burning, so use them with caution even if you have medium skin.
  • Children: Children need a higher SPF than adults and it is never too soon for them to start wearing it. An SPF of 45 is perfect for children, both on their face and body. One good SPF 45 for both parent and child is by Aveeno Baby . It is oil-free, waterproof and fragrance free. Be sure to get a waterproof sunblock   for children if they are old enough to be running around. It will help it from sweating off in the heat even if they aren't swimming. For very active children or children more than 10 years old you may want to think about a sport sunscreen  that is formulated not to run, drip or melt off, even when you go in the water. Remember though that despite what manufacturers say about sunscreens being waterproof, the truth is that they need to be reapplied each time the wearer sweats a lot or goes swimming.

Product Recommendations

Great for the Face

Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch 

Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protection Lotion SPF 55 

Banana Boat VitaSkin Lotion Facial Care SPF 30  

Clinique Super City Block SPF 25 Oil-Free Daily Face Protector ]

MAC Day SPF 15 Light Moisture  

Everywhere Else

No AD 

Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen 

Coppertone Sport 

Hawaiian Tropic Ozone Sport Lotion SPF 30 

Lancome Soleil Ultra SPF 50 Face and Body 

Choosing a Sunless Tanner

But what about my tan?!?! It seems everywhere we look--TV ,magazines ,movies --a little sun makes everyone glow.  Well we won't lie to you; a little colour makes legs look leaner, the face brighter, and skin tone more even. But we also know that sun exposure can lead to cancer, sun poisoning, and all sorts of nasty skin problems (including prematurely ageing skin!). Well, you're in luck, because you can have the best of both worlds. You can get that week-at-the-beach glow in ten minutes, without the risks associated with sun exposure. It may take some trial and error (and a fair amount of patience), but the right sunless tanner  can be easier, faster, and infinitely safer than the beach or booth.

  1. Match the tanner level (light, medium or dark) to your skin. If you burn easily or have pink undertones in your skin, it is probably "light". If you don't burn often but it takes some time to tan, your skin is most likely "medium". You may have olive or tan undertones in your skin. If you tan easily or have dark skin, your skin is considered "dark".
  2. Select an application type. There are creams, sprays, foams and towelettes. Each one has its pros and cons. Make sure though that whichever type you choose you select special tanners formulated for the face when needed since some tanners for the body are not non-comedogenic, thus they may clog pores and cause breakouts on sensitive facial skin.
  3. Budget accordingly. If you can spend $30 on tanner and don't mind, go for it. If you are a limited budget, don't worry. The active ingredient in self tanner, called DHA or dihydroxyacetone, is the same no matter how expensive the formula. The only thing to keep in mind is whether the inactive ingredients in the tanner will make application easier and/or more natural looking.

Sunless Tanner Types


Foams  tend to be easier to apply than creams, making even the most flawed application look good. Try St. Tropez Whipped Bronze Self Tanning Mousse System .


Spray tans , similar to what you get in salons, make for an even tan if you know how to apply them right. Novices beware! Try Au Courant Instant Sunless Tanning Spray .


Towelettes   are great for touch ups between applications. Try Estée Lauder's Go Tan Towelettes  or the budget priced L'Oreal Sublime Bronze Self-Tanning Towelettes .

Gradual Tans

Gradual tan lotions ,  such as Jergens Natural Glow , are ideal in spring when you want to subtly increase your tan as summer nears. These are also useful for maintaining a tan. Also try Coppertone's Endless Summer .


Sunless tanning lotions   are very common and best for the face. Fast drying   formulas dry in 5 minutes and are good for people who are used to applying tanners. For the novice though they may dry too quickly, creating streaks.

International Resources

For this resource in your home country, please see:
NL: Zonnebrandcreme Shopgids