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Best Sunscreens

Sunscreens are essential for skin care day in and day out, 365 days a year. If applied correctly (meaning liberally and reapplied as often as needed), they are the best anti-wrinkle product you can use. In order to earn a spot on the Best Products list, a sunscreen, whether for adults or kids, must:

  • Provide broad-spectrum sun protection and be rated SPF 15 or greater
  • Protect skin from UVA damage with one or more of the right active ingredients
  • Help fight sun damage while strengthening skin with antioxidants and repairing ingredients
  • If labeled as such, contain ingredients that make it water-resistant
  • Contain minimal to no fragrance 

Additional qualities that push it into four-star (best-rated) category are the inclusion of meaningful amounts of repairing, cell communicating or antioxidant ingredients as well as unique characteristics that enhance its wearability.

“Sunscreens” are differentiated from “Daytime Moisturizers with SPF” by three primary qualities.

  • They must be marketed as “sunscreens” only by the brand.
  • They lack specific anti-aging claims.
  • Their size is greater than 2 ounces, unless it is specifically called out as a sunscreen for the face and is not positioned as a facial/daytime moisturizer with SPF.

Below are the standardized criteria for assessing the ratings of sunscreen formulas.

One Star (must meet three or more of these characteristics)

  • Lacks broad-spectrum UVA/UVB protection.
  • Formula contains multiple potential irritants and/or is highly fragranced.
  • Contains potential irritants that have a higher risk of damage to skin (i.e. denatured alcohol, lavender and citrus oils).
  • Lacks additional beneficial antioxidants.
  • Is aesthetically displeasing.
  • Packaged in a jar.

Two Stars (meets SPF range + two other requirements)

  • Provides SPF 20 or lower broad-spectrum UVA/UVB sun protection.
  • Contains some potential irritants (including fragrance) but in limited amount (towards the lower middle or end of the ingredient list).
  • Lacks additional beneficial antioxidants.
  • Packaged in a jar.

Three Stars (must meet SPF minimum + two other requirements)

  • Provides SPF 20-30 broad-spectrum UVA/UVB sun protection.
  • Contains little to no potential irritants (lower end of the ingredient list), including minimal to no fragrance.
  • Has pleasant aesthetics to enhance wearability and encourage daily use.
  • Contains beneficial antioxidants to enhance free-radical protection and/or other beneficial ingredients.
  • Has packaging that protects its ingredients from air and light exposure and/or enhance application/dispensing.

Four Stars (must meet SPF minimum + three or more other requirements)

  • Provides SPF 30 or greater broad-spectrum UVA/UVB sun protection.
  • Contains little to no potential irritants (lower end of the ingredient list) and preferably no fragrance or fragrant plant extracts/oils.
  • Appealing or unique aesthetics to enhance wearability or other enhancements that differentiate it from the average sunscreen.
  • Contains meaningful amounts of beneficial antioxidants to enhance free-radical protection and/or other repairing/cell-communicating ingredients.
  • Has packaging that protects its ingredients from air and light exposure.

Many, if not most, of the changes that take place on our skin over the years, such as wrinkles, skin discolorations, loss of elasticity, texture problems, and dryness, are the result of sun damage from exposure to the sun without appropriate or adequate sun protection.

In addition to keeping your skin looking younger, a good sunscreen can also potentially help prevent some forms of skin cancer. Sunscreen is an absolute must if you have already been treated for any type of skin cancer (or have a family history of it).

585632-IIS4 v1.0.0.411 8/30/2015 11:17:49 AM