LET’S GET THE SCARY NEWS out of the way first. The rate of people getting melanoma, the most dangerous kind of skin cancer, has been increasing dramatically for more than 30 years. (You can thank, primarily, the end of the Earth’s ozone layer for that.) According to the American Cancer Society, there’ll be some 76,000 new melanoma cases this year alone. And that’s only melanoma. The American Academy of Dermatology reports that more than 3.5 million skin cancers in more than two million patients are being diagnosed annually.
If you have fair skin, a history of severe sunburns, and unprotected, excessive exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation – found in sunlight and tanning booths – you’re at the highest risk.
However, no one’s safe. If you have dark skin, you too can get skin cancer. It’ll just take longer. Golfers, tennis enthusiasts, joggers, all you sports types are susceptible as well. So are those who say they have to bake outside to get enough Vitamin D (choose supplements, not sun).
Here’s the encouraging news. Many if not most skin cancers are preventable. Doctors want sunscreens that have:
Broad-spectrum protection. Meaning both UVA (the aging rays) and UVB (the burning rays).
Sun Protection Factor (SPF) 30 or higher. Yes, more is better.
Water resistance of at least 40-80 minutes. Even if you’re not at the beach, you sweat.
We non-doctors want sunscreens that are:
Quick-drying, with easy and fast application. Otherwise, they won’t get used.
Silky, light, un-greasy texture. That is our collective dream.
Without weird chemical smells. Ditto.
The beauty of these new body sprays is that they fit both bills. After showering and before getting dressed, generously spray and smooth across your neck, chest, shoulders, back (if exposed), arms and legs. Let absorb for a few minutes, and go. Reapply if you’ve been outside for more than two hours, and don’t use on or near your face. More on the facial matter later on.
The Un-Oily Oil
Supergoop! Sun-Defying Sunscreen Oil With Meadowfoam Broad Spectrum SPF 50 ($10-$26). If your body’s skin is dry like mine, this is what you want. Meadowfoam seed oil is an odorless, refined, super-stable (i.e. long-lasting) ingredient that hydrates without heaviness. How this discreetly fragrant oil feels this light yet this supple is beyond me. It’s got radish, grape and sunflower oil, plus Argan and coconut oils and shea butter. And the fabulous fragrance? It’s derived from grapefruit peel extract, orange peel extract, tangerine peel extract, lemon peel extract and calendula flower extract.
Clarins Broad Spectrum SPF 50+ Spray Solaire Sunscreen Care Milk-Lotion Spray ($35). This creamy liquid spray comes out white and immediately disappears into skin. Since it’s a pump, you can control exactly where it goes. Perfect for your neck, chest and even the backs of your hands. The combination of five plant extracts (including pea and olive) helps skin resist wrinkles, spots and uneven tone. Smells like a model sunning on a yacht moored in Monaco’s Port Hercules.
Dr. Dennis Gross Daily Essentials Sheer Mineral Sun Spray Broad Spectrum SPF 50+ Sunscreen Protection ($42). Cruelty-free and vegan, this spray absorbs instantly and has no scent, residue or any trace it was ever there. The bottle’s nozzle can go 360 degrees, so you can reach everywhere. Love it. Be sure to shake it well; you’ll hear a ball inside like in a can of spray paint.
Supergoop! Antioxidant-Infused Sunscreen Mist With Vitamin C Broad Spectrum SPF 50 Non-Aerosol Continuous Mist ($13-$19). I’m a sucker for continuous mists; you don’t have to keep pumping away. This one’s nourishing – Vitamin C gives radiance and helps prevent free radical damage — and smells like clean skin warmed with mandarin orange peel oil, lavender oil and spearmint leaf oil.
Kiehl’s Activated Sun Protector Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 50 Lotion Spray For Body ($25). Oil-, fragrance-, and paraben-free. Non-comedogenic. Simplicity at its best.
Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Body Mist Sunscreen Helioplex Broad Spectrum SPF 100+ ($10.99). My skin’s the fairest of the fair, and this is like an entire, invisible body condom in even the harshest sun. It feels and, as the name implies, looks, like nothing at all. And a 100+ SPF? Practically unheard of. A summer must for My Kind.
Neutrogena Fresh Cooling Sunscreen Helioplex Broad Spectrum SPF 70+ ($9.59). My other summer must because there’s nothing like it. Feels like ice going on. So refreshing on hot summer mornings. This one’s pretty hard to find, so stock up. There’s still a lot of summer left.
L’Oréal Paris Advanced Suncare Invisible Protect Sheer Spray SPF 50+ ($7.97). It doesn’t get better than this for the price, plus I love the summery container. I also love that this weightless, unscented spray contains the excellent antioxidants white grapeseed oil and Vitamin E.
Coola Sport Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Citrus Mimosa Certified Organic Sunscreen Spray + Environmental Protection ($32). Champagne and citrus juice. Can this awesome “farm to face” spray really go there? Well, it goes damn close. It won’t make you tipsy, exactly, but people will want to smell you. That’s from orange peel oil, lemon peel oil, tangerine peel oil, cucumber fruit extract and strawberry fruit extract. And the evil sun won’t stand a chance. Not with red raspberry seed oil, a natural sunscreen and anti-inflammatory rich in Omega-3 and 6. Light, lovely, and I love the container as much as L’Oréal’s.
The Continuous Fancy
Hampton Sun Smart Serious Sunbathing Broad Spectrum SPF 55 Continuous Mist Sunscreen Oil-Free With Aloe Vera ($32). If Ralph Lauren designed a sunscreen, this would be it. Romantic, clean and warm, it smells like a million old-money bucks and feels like pure luxury. It also has Vitamins A, C and E to protect, soothe and replenish skin. I need an outfit to go with this.
The Facial Matter
Colorescience Sunforgettable Powder Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Brush ($52). I know. This is not a spray. However, this new product is so cool and so smart that I had to include it. Besides, I wouldn’t want your face to feel left out. Here’s a portable powder mineral sunscreen in a tube that’s super-sheer, breezy-light and refillable. Keep it in your purse and brush it on whenever. In a couple of sweeps, you’re matte and ready to face the sun safely. The three shades also come in a subtle shimmer, which looks beautiful down the center of your neck, across your clavicle and along your shoulder blades.
— Gigi Anders
Gigi Anders is a freelance writer in the New York City area.[subscribe2]