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Summer Skin: Best Sunscreens For Your Beach Bod

I know I sound a bit like a broken record but, ladies, sun exposure is no joking matter. Women nowadays should know better than to act like Jane Siegel from Mad Men (Don’s former secretary and Roger’s new fiancée) and allow themselves to turn a Sebastian the Crab shade of red during their trips to the beach. For one, deep frying your skin is hardly the way to look sexy and desirable (honestly, if you want to look bronzed, you need to build up that tan gradually or invest in a fantastic bronzing powder or self-tanner). Two, excessive sun exposure will merely activate a ticking time bomb in your skin, so that your time with a youthful countenance slips through your hands that much faster. I don’t know about y’all, but I’m working hard to look younger than I actually am and I intend to keep it that way well into my cougar phase and my golden years.

So, as redundant as it may sound, I’ll reiterate: do not skimp on the sunscreen. Invest in a quality face sunscreen and an equally effective SPF for your bod.

Here, a look at what to pack in your beach bag so your skin won’t have to pay for all that summer play.

Best Sunscreens for Body


Kiehl’s Vital Sun Protection Lotion SPF 30, $18.50. Visit Kiehls.com

This is one of those “I mean business” sunscreens. It’s a chalky white color, like most old-school sunscreens, but it’s easily absorbed by the skin, so you won’t look like Casper the Friendly Ghost after smoothing it on your skin. There are no artificial fragrances, but it’s still not exactly a rose bouquet — the again, that’s why perfume is for, right? Avobenzone, Ocitsalate, Octocrylene and Oxybenzone protect you against broad spectrum UV rays, while aloe leaf juice and soybean oil work to moisturize the skin.


Pevonia Botanica Ligne Soleil Hydrating Sunscreen SPF 30, $40. Visit Dermstore.com

A sunscreen that smells like a corsage? Yes, ladies, it exists. Aside from Titanium Dioxide, Octisalate and Octinoxate, Pevonia Botanica’s Ligne Soleil Hydrating Sunscreen SPF 30 includes such moisturizing ingredients as: vitamins E and C, green tea extract, French rose extract and safflower seed oil. I’m most fascinated by the inclusion of French rose extract in the formula since recent medical studies indicate that this botanical substance can protect against oxidative damage to cell membranes (which can, in turn, lead to skin cancer and/or premature aging). And the faint smell of rose certainly makes putting sunscreen on way sexier, don’t you think?


Clinique Sun SPF 15 Face/Body Cream, $20. Visit Cinique.com

This has become one of my favorite sunscreen options. It lasts quite some time, and it doesn’t make you feel greasy (as I’m sure you know, some sunscreens make you feel like a basted turkey which is not a delectable feeling). The body cream is part of Clinique’s Sun with Solar Smart collection, which is based on a 3:1 ratio of UVB versus UVA protection. The idea here is to ensure a proper amount of UVA protection since researchers now believe that, while, UVB rays are responsible for sunburns, UVA rays are greater culprits in accelerating the aging process.The formula contains: avobenzone, which protect the skin from UVA rays; ethylhexylsalicylate and homosalate, UVB absorbers that prevent sunburns form happening; oxybenzone, which provides broad
spectrum protection against UVA and UVB rays; and octocrylene, a water-resistant molecule that stabilizes UVA and UVB protection.

Ahava Mineral Suncare Sun Protection Anti-Aging Moisturizer SPF 30, $22. Visit AhavaUS.com

Unlike most sunscreens on the market, Ahava’s Suncare Sun Protection Anti-Aging Moisturizer deliberately avoid using oxybenzone, which is probably the most controversial chemical sunscreen, as recent studies suggest that it might trigger hormone disruption. Instead, it relies on avobenzone, octocrylene and octisalate to provide UVA/UVB protection, as well as titanium dioxide. Dead Sea minerals, meanwhile, replenish the skin’s moisture barrier and leave it feeling soft and supple.

Carita Paris Protecting and Moisturizing Sun Milk for Body SPF 20, $112. Visit CaritaDirect.com

This is a gold medal contender, in my opinion. The “sun milk” description really does help since it does, in fact, have a thin, milky consistency. In addition to octinoxate, octisalate, oxybenzone and titanium oxide (all of which protect against UVA and UVB rays), Carita Paris’ Protecting and Moisturizing Sun Milk includes sweet orange extract and healing myrrh extract (which ancient Greeks and Arabs used to cure skin conditions and gripes ranging from eczema to wrinkling).

Burt’s Bees Chemical-Free Sunscreen SPF 30, $13. Visit BurtsBees.com

If you’re looking for a chemical-free alternative, Burt’s Bees offers a sunscreen option that banishes chemical sunscreen additives like oxybenzone and octinoxate and, instead, relies on titanium dioxide (a mineral substance) to provide broad-spectrum UV protection. The sunscreen also contains healing botanical ingredients like hemp seed oil, orange peel oil, golden seal extract, sandalwood oil, patchouli oil, and witch hazel leaf extract. The smell is a bit disconcerting for me, as it reminds me of smoked out VW buses, Birkenstock sandals and Grateful Dead heads, but I do appreciate the idea of a natural sunscreen option.

Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula Moisturizing Gel Oi SPF 15, $9.49. Visit Walgreens.com

I love cocoa butter. Come to think of it, I don’t really know any person of color who doesn’t love cocoa butter — most of us grew up applying it to our skin (’cause looking ashy is just not sassy or classy) and kept on rubbing it on well into our adult years. Palmer’s is, of course, one of the masters of cocoa butter products, so I was beyond happy when I hears they’d developed a gel oil with SPF 15 protection. The gel gives your legs and arms a sexy glow (without making them sticky) which actually helps to enhance whatever tan you’ve developed. Vitamin E, jojoba oil and shea butter moisturize and heal the skin, so you won’t have to worry about drying up under the sun. And, of course, the chocolate-y aroma makes the whole endeavor all the more pleasant.


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