It's not enough anymore to just block those UVA-UVB rays.
This season it seems sunscreens are multitasking, with anti-aging or other benefits.
Clarins' latest sun products contain a complex of five plant extracts to help protect skin from environmental pollutants. There's a wrinkle control cream for the face, $32.50, and a milk-lotion spray for body, $30, both with SPF 50+; at makeup counters or clarins.com.
Rich in vitamins C and E, along with some soothing botanicals, emerginC's sunscreen SPF 30+ comes in tinted ($39) and untinted ($37) versions, at emerginc.com.
Try a number of the latest sun products with Sephora's 2011 Sun Safety Kit, a beach tote filled with generous samples of products from Bare Escentuals, Murad, Peter Thomas Roth, Shiseido and Philosophy, to name a few; $25 ($147 value) while supplies last. The best part -- net profits benefit the Skin Cancer Foundation.
NEOVA's two new Damage Control sunscreens come in SPF 43 for everyday use, $39, and SPF 45 for active use, $46. Both contain technology said to repair and prevent damage to the skin; at nextderm.com.
Hamptons Sun products contain vitamins A through E (all powerful antioxidants) plus a signature fragrance inspired by the East End's blooming privets; in SPF 15, 35 and 55, $32 each,
at select Bloomingdale's stores or hamptonsuncare .com.
Photodynamic Therapy SPF 30 from DERMAdoctor puts the sun to work. High-tech ingredients transform UV light into red light, which is said to restore firmness and radiance to the skin, while reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles; $85, at select Sephora stores or sephora.com.
Don't forget your hair. Ouidad's Sun & Sport Leave In Conditoner protects against rays while moisturizing and nourishing hair; $20, at ouidad.com.
* Take Banana Boat's sun certification quiz at facebook.com/BananaBoat Brand, and the company will donate $1 to the Skin Cancer Foundation's education programs. (The goal is to "certify" 101,000 people.)
* As part of its SOS -- Save Our Skin campaign -- La Roche-Posay offers a UV check iPhone app that will help you determine the daily UV indexes for your current location.
* Environmental Working Group's 2011 Sunscreen Guide (breakingnews.ewg.org/2011sunscreen) rates 1,700-plus sunscreens.
We asked Deborah Sarnoff, a dermatologist in Greenvale and Manhattan and senior vice president of the Skin Cancer Foundation, to impart her best advice on choosing a sunscreen:
* Be sure you like the smell and feel. For daily use (going to the office, etc.) she says SPF15 is fine; for beach or other days, at least SPF30.
* Know your rays. SPF only measures UVB protection, but "UVA rays are equally as damaging to the skin. ... Therefore, when choosing a sunscreen, be sure to look for one that offers 'broad protection' from both UVB and UVA rays, containing ingredients such as titanium oxide, zinc oxide, oxybenzone or mexoryl." (Look for new labeling regulations on all this starting next year.)
* Makeup isn't enough. "Although makeup or moisturizers may contain an SPF factor, you're only applying a thin layer . . . you may not be getting adequate protection." Better, she says, is to use these products "in conjunction with a broad-spectrum sunscreen or sunblock that provides sufficient protection from UVB and UVA rays." There's no harm in layering, she says.
* Look for the seal. "I tell my patients to look for products labeled with the seal of recommendation from the Skin Cancer Foundation. The seal of recommendation is only awarded to those products that surpass stringent clinical testing to ensure their effectiveness." And don't forget to apply enough (at least two tablespoons) to your body, she says, and to reapply every two to three hours, especially after swimming. -- Barbara Schuler