First things first. Do you prefer a spray or a lotion?
Sprays: Ideal for lightweights
“I burn easily, which means I’m religious about my sunscreen (re)application. Spray sunscreens make this whole process much more enjoyable, because there is nothing I hate more than feeling suffocated by product. (I’m looking at you, creamy lotions.)” –Victoria DiPlacido, associate beauty editor
Banana Boat Dry Balance Clear UltraMist Spray SPF 50+ ($11), at walmart.ca; La Roche-Posay Ultra-Light Anthelios Mist SPF 50 ($32), at rexall.ca; Alba Botanica Sport Fragrance Free Continuous Spray Sunscreen SPF 50+ ($17), at well.ca; Hawaiian Tropic Silk Hydration Weightless Clear Sunscreen Spray SPF 30 ($13), at walmart.ca.
Lotions: Must-haves for control freaks
“For me, lotions are foolproof formulas—rub in, dance along the waterside, reapply—that create a circle of trust against sun damage. They’re the only way to keep burns in my memory bank where they belong (oops, teenage years), and they stay put—unlike wayward misty sprays that evaporate into the beachy breeze along with my summer rosé budget.” –Katherine Flemming, health & beauty editor
Live Clean Sport Mineral Sunscreen Lotion SPF 45 ($17), at walmart.com; Sun Bum Broad Spectrum SPF 30 ($18), at shoppersdrugmart.ca; Clé de Peau Beauté 50+ UV Protective Emulsion Very High Protection for Body ($110), at nordstrom.com; Neutrogena Sheer Zinc Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50 ($20), at londondrugs.com.
The newest sunscreens designed exclusively for the face are often lightweight, mineral (meaning they reflect the sun’s rays as opposed to absorbing them) or tinted, so you don’t need to add another layer of CC cream or foundation.
Coppertone ClearlySheer Lotion for Face ($8), at well.ca; Ombrelle Ultra Light Advanced 100% Mineral Tinted Face Lotion with SPF 60 ($18), at rexall.ca; Bioderma Photoderm Compact SPF 50+ Mineral Compact ($29.50), at beautyboutique.ca; Shiseido Sports BB Broad Spectrum SPF 50+ ($48), at thebay.com.
How much should you apply?
When sunscreen is tested in a lab to determine the SPF factor, it’s applied in a thick layer. IRL, application often falls short. “I encourage my patients to use a higher SPF [than they think they need],” says Dr. Julia Carroll, a Toronto-based dermatologist, citing studies showing that people tend to apply only a quarter to half of the amount of sunscreen needed to achieve the SPF listed on the bottle. If you work indoors, use an SPF 30 daily. If you’re going to be in direct sunlight, use an SPF 50+ and reapply every two hours. You’ll need a golf-ball-size amount for your entire body and a nickel-size amount for your face.
Consider topical vitamin C
Layer on an antioxidant, like vitamin C, before you apply sunscreen. “It’s the gold standard,” says Carroll, who calls it a “second line of defence” against free radicals from UV light, which can cause sun damage that shows up on skin in the form of wrinkles and pigmentation. NB: This doesn’t replace sunscreen. “It’s not one or the other,” says Carroll. “It’s like putting on a shirt and then a jacket.” Look for 10- to 20-percent L-ascorbic acid listed on the packaging—otherwise, she says, it likely doesn’t contain enough to be effective.
Try: Jouviance Restructiv Vitamin C ($65), at jouviance.com.
The bod of your dreams won’t come from a bottle (hate to break it to you) but these products will help things along.
This article originally appeared in the Summer 2017 issue of ELLE Canada.