Sun-Kissed Skin Care

Coconut-scented oils. Cooling mists. Tear-free formulas. Travel-friendly sticks. Kid-friendly Foams. There are a ton of sunscreen options out there, and SPF is just one factor to consider while selecting the one that’s right for you.

Beach Skincare

© Photo by: Russell James; courtesy of: Victoria’s Secret

The sun in the Caribbean is strong, so you’ll need more than the SPF in your daily body lotion to protect your skin. In this part of the world, the sun’s rays hit the earth at a pretty direct angle and aren’t absorbed by the atmosphere. The days are longer, and even in the winter months, the UV rays can be strong until early evening. While sticking to the shade is advisable during peak sun hours, it isn’t always possible when you’re out exploring. Even if you’re in the shade, the sun can reflect off of the water and the sand, so make sure you’re properly lotioned up and prepared.

You’ll need a sunscreen with a sun protection factor—otherwise known as SPF—of at least 30. Make sure the sunscreen you pick is labeled broad spectrum. That means it protects against both UVA and UVB rays. You’ll also want one that’s water resistant if you’re going to be swimming or sweating. And since you’re in the Caribbean, there’s a good chance you’ll be doing both.

Sunscreens last for three years. So if you packed a bottle that you picked up a few years ago, one that’s been kicking around the bottom of your suitcase for eons, get rid of it and get a new bottle. The same goes for sunscreens that have been exposed to the elements.

Apply your sunscreen early and often. Put it on fifteen to thirty minutes before you head into the sun, and reapply every two hours—more often if you’re swimming, sweating, or toweling off, even if the sunscreen says it’s water resistant. Consumer Reports annual sunscreen test in 2014 found only two formulas tested still provided the SPF the package claimed after water immersion. And make sure you’re using enough—one ounce to cover the face and body, which can feel like an awful lot while you’re slathering it on. Most people stop at half that amount according to Consumer Reports. Think of it like this: if you are using the recommended amount, an eight-ounce bottle should last for only eight days—and that’s if you are applying it only once a day.

Sunscreen Skincare

With sunscreen sticks and sprays, it can be tricky to tell if you are using the right amount. Sticks are easy to swipe on, and you should run it over your skin quite a few times to ensure you’ve built up enough coverage.

For sprays, lots of people end up misting a good portion of the product into the air instead of onto the skin. To prevent that, hold the bottle four to six inches from your skin and continuously spray each limb for two to four seconds. Do each part of your body twice to ensure you don’t miss any spots, and be sure to rub it in after each spray. While sprays are great for adults, be mindful that children could accidentally inhale the mist and irritate their lungs. Also be careful using a spray around an open flame.

With all this in mind, picking out a sunscreen can be a daunting task. Last spring, I made a quick run to the store to pick up a tear-free face formula, expecting to be in and out in under five minutes. I spent twenty minutes gazing in confusion at an entire aisle of options. Your vacation time is too precious for that. So to help you navigate the many, many options out there, our team did the research, tested the products, and made our selections for the standout sunscreens of the season.

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