The Best Sunscreen for the Family

  • Protect yourself!

    The weather is getting warmer and we all can't wait to get outside and enjoy it. But, with the fun of outdoor activities comes the responsibility to protect our skin and the skin of our families. But, how do we make sense of the almost dizzying array of SPF products at the store or online? Keep clicking for a layman's education on sun protection and a breakdown of the best sunscreen products for all your needs. Photo Credit: Avinash Meetoo
    SPF - What Does it Mean? 
  • SPF - What Does it Mean? 

    SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor. The SPF number indicates how much longer you will be protected than if you weren't wearing sunscreen, i.e. SPF 15 means that you are 15 times more protected than you would be without sunscreen. SPF 15 is also the minimum you should be wearing, as 15 is "full protection." SPF will decrease with sweating and exposure to water. Therefore, in addition to protective clothing, hats and beach umbrellas, it's often best to wear products with a higher SPF so you are more adequately protected. And make sure you are wearing a water-resistant sunscreen if you will be outside for long periods, swimming or sweating. Photo Credit:  Juergin Kurlvink
    Broad Spectrum - What Does it Mean?
  • Broad Spectrum - What Does it Mean?

    Broad spectrum means that a product is offering protection from all UVA and UVB rays. Oddly, the "SPF" factor on sunscreen products only pertains to how effective the UVB protection is and UVA rays are very dangerous as well. So, since we never know how protected we are against UVA rays based on the SPF of a product, we need to take precautions and make sure our sunscreen products contain ingredients we know are effective against those rays. And - what a surprise - there are varying opinions about what ingredients are really effective against UVA rays. Many dermatologists and other health professionals feel that only products with at least 5% Zinc Oxide - often in combination with Titanium Dioxide - protect the skin from harmful UVA rays because they are photostable (won't break down in the sun) and they offer a physical block on the skin, like clothing. But, in many cases, you need to apply an almost opaque layer in order to get that level of protection. The good news is that here are new technologies out there that allow certain sunscreen ingredients other than Zinc Oxide to remain stable, so if you don't like the sometimes tacky feeling and heavy, white application of Zinc Oxide or Titanium Dioxide products, there are options out there. Photo Credit:  Zitona
    What are Anti-Oxidants?  
  • What are Anti-Oxidants?  

    You may have noticed that a lot of skin care products, including SPF products, contain antioxidants.  If a product claims to have antioxidant benefits, it means that the product contains ingredients that protect the skin from free radicals. What? Well, free radicals are in the air and are caused by pollution. Free radicals cause signs of premature aging, i.e. fine lines, wrinkles and uneven skin tone. Your skin is under constant assault (especially if you live in a city), so why not protect it? Photo Credit:  pinch my salt
    Can Clothing Actually Protect Your Skin?
  • Can Clothing Actually Protect Your Skin?

    Dermatologist Cynthia Bailey stresses the importance not only of sunscreen, but of protective clothing (and hats!). Since not all clothing is created equal in terms of its protective qualities (thinner fabrics, lighter colors and looser weaves are less protective), she has actually found a great product that increases the protection your clothing can offer, Sun Guard Protective Clothing Treatment. It's only $4! Dr. Bailey's site has great sun care and skin care info for all skin types and product recommendations. I would highly recommend taking a look. Now here's your list of recommended SPF products.  I've divided them by type so you can easily find the sunscreens that suit your needs and lifestyle. Photo Credit:  Jimw
    Normal Skin - Also Great for High-Risk Users
  • Normal Skin - Also Great for High-Risk Users

    I like CVS Brand Age Defense Face Sunscreen SPF 95+. At $9.99 for 3 oz., you get a deal, especially when compared to Neutrogena's Helioplex at $10.99. The technology in this product claims to allow ingredients other than zinc oxide to remain photostable and protect against UVA/UVB rays. Because there is no Zinc Oxide in this product, it applies very smoothly and leaves a nice finish on the skin, which makes it perfect for under makeup. It also contains anti-oxidants and is sweat-resistant. Because of the high SPF of 95, I also recommend this for those in the high risk category. What I mean by "high risk" is that you either have a personal history or family history of skin cancer.  If this is you, you should be wearing a very high sunscreen at all times as well as protective clothing and hats. Photo Credit: CVS
    Normal-Oily Skin and Sports Enthusiasts
  • Normal-Oily Skin and Sports Enthusiasts

    Paula's Choice has some great sunblock options on the site, saying "Our Extra Care Non-Greasy Sunscreen SPF 45 contains a blend of active ingredients that not only provide reliable broad-spectrum sun protection, but has a perfect texture and feel for those with normal to oily skin. Unlike many sunscreens, this doesn’t make skin feel thick, occluded, or sticky. We also added potent and stable antioxidants that greatly add to our sunscreens ability to protect skin from other environmental stresses as well". I love this sunscreen, which costs $14.95 at Paula's Choice, because it's light and dries to a slightly matte finish, making it appropriate for those with normal to oily skin. It is also highly water-resistant (up to 80 minutes in water) and can be used on the body, so it's a great all-in-one product! As some of you may know, Paula Begoun is an internationally regarded beauty and skincare expert. Her book Don't Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me is now in its 8th edition and is a must-have for cosmetics and skincare users. She launched Paula's Choice, a collection of skincare, makeup, hair care and beauty tools in 1995. Visit Paula's Choice to check out Paula's fantastic line of products and to learn more about ingredients, your favorite brands and just about everything else beauty-related. It's a great resource. Photo Credit: Paula's Choice
    Anti-Aging for Dry Skin (just a little splurge!) 
  • Anti-Aging for Dry Skin (just a little splurge!) 

    If you have dry skin or are concerned about the effects of aging, I would highly recommend the Olay Regenerist Advanced Anti-Aging SPF 50, which rings in at $29.99. I am a huge fan of Olay's skin care products and was excited to see them offer such a high broad spectrum sunscreen. Olay's exclusive Amino-Peptide +B3 Complex replenishes skin's moisture barrier which can regenerate skin's appearance. It absorbs quickly into the skin, which makes it a fantastic product to wear under makeup. Photo Credit: CVS
    Lips - Clear Balm 
  • Lips - Clear Balm 

    I have become quite attached to the LaNatura Sunblock SPF 20 Organic Shea Butter Lip Balm.  It has a subtle minty taste and a smooth, creamy texture and moist finish. It feels a bit waxy going on, but don't be fooled - it warms up on your lips to a very comfortable, moist feel.  It's enriched with Shea Butter and natural oils to hydrate, condition and protect the lips.  And it's water-resistant, full of antioxidants and great for kids. Only $10. Photo Credit: LaNatura
    Lip Protection + Gloss  
  • Lip Protection + Gloss  

    If you like a clear gloss, I love the CVS brand Focus on Lips Moisture Mint Gloss SPF 15 for its high, glassy shine and SPF of 15. It's similar in feel to MAC's Lip Glass or Lancome Juicy Tubes. The SPF is a bonus and the price is right at $5.99. Photo Credit: CVS
    Body - Sports 
  • Body - Sports 

    I find that a lot of sunscreen products intended for sports feel very thick. I was happy to discover the Nature's Gate Aqua Block SPF 50 because although it provides broad spectrum protection with 10% Zinc Oxide, it does not feel sticky on the skin. It's very water-resistant so it won't run into your eyes and it's great for sports - even water sports. It's fragrance-free and has hydrating and moisturizing benefits of Chamomile and Shea Butter. $8.99 Photo Credit: Nature's Gate Aqua Block SPF 50
    Body SPF with  Insect Repellent
  • Body SPF with  Insect Repellent

    Avon Skin So Soft SPF 30 - love it! I used this all last summer and it's fantastic. Things get very buggy where I live in New Jersey, and I was grateful to have such an effective, DEET-free bug repellent with a bonus of SPF 30! I will definitely be ordering more this summer for $14 online or through your favorite Avon lady! Photo Credit:
    Body SPFs - For High-Risk Users 
  • Body SPFs - For High-Risk Users 

    I am very excited to have found SCAPE products, which are launching this month. SCAPE was created by a dermatologist, Dr. Nic Martens, who is responsible for many innovations in the beauty world (including the Neutrogena Helioplex SPF that I mentioned in this article). SCAPE is clinically tested to be 5 times more water-resistant than any other sports product on the market. This product is also athlete-tested and endorsed. The SCAPE products do not contain Zinc Oxide, so no opaque white application, and no drag on the skin. Dr. Martens actually made Avobenzone photostable. Avobenzone is a common SPF ingredient that tends to evaporate fairly quickly and therefore lose its efficacy, but with this technology, it's become an incredibly effective sunscreen without the heavy feeling that Zinc Oxide products can have on the skin. The SCAPE products feel really nice going on, and leave the skin feeling and looking moist. The lotion is available in SPF 30 & 50 and retails for $14.99. Also check out the Lip Balm SPF 50 for $3.50. As these products are brand new to the market, please email to order.  Starting Monday, products can be purchased at They will also be offering a special introductory bundle price for the 4-oz. lotion, the face stick (see next page) and the lip balm. $25 and free shipping. Photo Credit: SCAPE
    Body SPFs - Sticks 
  • Body SPFs - Sticks 

    Sticks are great because of their portability. But, I have to say that of all the SPF sticks I've tried (and I have tried a bunch), I only liked the SCAPE Face Stick SPF 50 ($11.99). All the other sticks had an unpleasant drag on application. I believe that sometimes we have to suffer a bit to take care of ourselves, but when you have the SCAPE Face Stick you don't have to. I walked around all day today in sunny NYC and was so happy to have the SCAPE Face Stick on hand to protect my skin. As this product is brand new to the market, please email to order.  Starting Monday, products can be purchased online. Photo Credit: SCAPE
    Body - SPF Sprays 
  • Body - SPF Sprays 

    Ron Robinson, beauty expert extraordinaire and 20-year veteran cosmetic chemist and research executive (for Clinique, Estee Lauder and Revlon, among others) recommends the Neutrogena Fresh Cooling Body Mist Sunblock SPF 70 With Helioplex ($9.99 at "The icy, superfine spray provides superior broad-spectrum coverage while refreshing hot, sticky skin. This cooling effect is so refreshing, it makes you want to re-apply often which is ideal for sun protection," says Ron. Ron is also the founder of, an online community that offers women a fun way to identify their individual beauty styles and concerns, discuss their questions with experts and connect to others with similar issues. Photo Credit:
    Sunscreen for Your Hair?
  • Sunscreen for Your Hair?

    You might have never thought that your hair needed protection, however, sun can be very drying to the hair and if you color your hair, it can affect the color. Also, people who have thinner hair or pronounced parts need extra protection along the part. Our friend Ron Robinson likes Redken Color Extend Sun Solar Screen SPF 12. Ron says, "It’s a lightweight, leave-in serum that strengthens and protects sun damaged and flustered hair. It’s particularly recommended for people who have side/middle and fringe parts. When applied to exposed scalp and hair, it prevents burning and peeling. When you apply it, the hair becomes coated with UV filters, and the company’s exclusive Interbond Conditioning System deliver nutrients like Ceramide (that strengthen), and Mango Oil (that hydrates)."  $12.24 at Photo Credit:
    Sunscreen for Your Hands
  • Sunscreen for Your Hands

    I think sometimes we forget how much sun exposure our hands get. Our hands are always exposed (and many of us have age spots and wrinkled hands to prove it) so it is very important to pay special attention to our hands. I did not find a hand-specific SPF product that I really liked, but would highly recommend the Alba Botanica Organic Lavender Sunscreen SPF 30 ($8.95) for your hands and whole body. It comes in a handy tube so you can carry it with you and it has a really nice, non-greasy feel, which I think is essential for a hand cream. It's packed with nutrients to keep the skin soft and smooth, and it's water-resistant. It also contains lavender, which is a calming scent and has natural bug-repellent properties, so this is a great product all around. $9.95 at Photo Credit: Alba Botanica
    Sunscreen for Kids - Cream
  • Sunscreen for Kids - Cream

    Banana Boat Baby SPF 50 is a fantastic SPF product that I've used on my 4-year-old daughter since she was 6 months old - remember that most doctors do not recommend that babies under 6 months spend any prolonged time in the sun. Sunscreen should be avoided and protective clothing should be used. Syl Tang, founder of Hipguide, a 10-year-old media company with a loyal selection of celebs and other media is another loyal user.    Hipguide provides its 500,000 viewers with content on travel and fashion, and Syl has traveled to just about every sunny spot in the world for Hipguide, including, St. John, Turks and Caicos, Martinique, Cebu, St. Tropez, Nayarit and the Great Barrier Reef. "I am unfortunately a bit sun allergic so I've tried everything from the drugstore to high-end boutiques. So far, in my opinion, nothing beats Banana Boat Baby SPF 50 - the big pink tube - which is also great because it's widely available and inexpensive. I know I sound like a commercial but I burn in under fifteen minutes using anything except that one," Syl said. $9.99 at Photo Credit:
    Sunscreen for Kids - Spray
  • Sunscreen for Kids - Spray

    If you like sprays for the kids, I like the CVS brand Kids Fast Color Continuous Lotion Spray SPF 50. It has a light feel and it dries down quickly with no sticky residue - great for squirmers. And it's water-resistant up to 80 minutes in the water. I will definitely be packing it in our beach bag this summer.  $7.99 at Photo Credit: CVS
    For the Eco-Conscious
  • For the Eco-Conscious

    Many environmentalists feel that sunscreen chemicals can be damaging to our reefs, fish life and oceans in general.  As a result, there are a lot of products emerging that are "reef friendly".  One such product is the Smart Girls Who Surf SPF 30+ Sunblock. It's chemical free, utilizing 7% Titanium Oxide and 5% Zinc Oxide. It is also water-resistant and won't sting your eyes. $15 at Photo Credit: SmartGirlsWhoSurf
    The Whole "Kit" and Caboodle
  • The Whole "Kit" and Caboodle

    Are you a fan of one-stop shopping like I am? Dermatologist Cynthia Bailey has done the shopping for us and compiled a clever kit that contains all you need for protecting your skin and the skin of your family (kids too!). The Ultimate Sun Kit contains Sun Guard Laundry Treatment, UV Ray Detecto Ring, LipCotz SPF 45, Silbar Zinc SPF 38 Sunscreen and Citrix Sunscreen SPF 30. This is a nice value when purchased as a kit. $47.50 Photo Credit:
    After Sun
  • After Sun

    After the skin has been exposed to sun, it is very important to nourish and rehydrate because no matter how diligent you were about protecting it, the skin can still be parched and delicate. Beyond Coastal has a great line of sun care products for those with active lifestyles, and their After-Sun Moisturizer is packed with nourishing Jojoba and Safflower Oils and soothing Calendula and Aloe - perfect for after-sun.  $9.99 at Photo Credit:
    Have fun!
  • Have fun!

    Those once intimidating sunscreen aisles should be no match for you now. Hopefully, you have a more clear idea what products you and your family need to protect yourselves this summer. Have fun shopping around and choose the products that are right for you and your lifestyle and be sure to purchase only what you need each spring and dispose of them at the end of that summer so you are always assured that you are using fresh and effective products. Photo Credit: jasfitz
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