Ok, sure so we all know that the sun helps us manufacture the very important Vitamin D…which, these days, seems to be depleted in everyone under the sun.  That said, though, we also know a little sun goes a long way.  As spring rain clears, it’s a good time to brush up on sunscreen best practices. For those, we checked in with Dr. Jonathan D. Rich, D.O., Primary Care Physician with Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore.

1. Can you stress the importance of sunscreen in the summer, but also year round?

Sunscreen protects against the harmful UV rays from the sun that are responsible for problems such as sunburns, photo-aging and skin cancer.   If you are going to have sun exposure in winter or summer it is necessary to use protection.  The harmful rays may not seem as “strong” in the winter but the same damage occurs whether it is hot or cold outside.

2. What should we look for in a sunscreen?

There are numerous sunscreens on the market.  They are rated by the sun protection factor (SPF), which rates how well the sunscreen protects against a sunburn reaction, specifically for UVB rays. There is also a rating for protection against UVA rays and those will be labeled “broad spectrum,” generally SPF over 15.  It is recommended to use sunscreen products that are at least over 30 SPF.

3. What are some common areas we miss when putting on sunscreen?

Typical areas that are missed when applying sunscreen include the ears, scalp, feet, eyelids and lips.

4. What’s a good rule of thumb for how much sunscreen to use on our face and body?

A good amount of sunscreen to use is the “teaspoon rule.”  One teaspoon of sunscreen to the face and neck, a total of two teaspoons to the front and back torso, one teaspoon to each upper extremity and two teaspoons to each lower extremity.  Apply 15-30 minutes before sun exposure to allow the formation of a protective film.  Reapply at least every two hours and reapply after water exposure even if labeled “water resistant.”

After talking to Dr. Rich, we did some digging to find some new and current sunscreens—see below:

SkinMedica TOTAL DEFENSE + REPAIR is a rejuvenating sunscreen that prevents the appearance of premature aging from chronic exposure to infrared rays and provides broad spectrum protection beyond UVA/UVB rays while supporting the skin’s ability to restore itself for total skin health.  It’s available in SPF 34, SPF 34 Tinted, and SPF 50.  (Available at skinmedica.com)

The new Alastin HydraTint Pro Mineral Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 36 is a hybrid primer, moisturizer, foundation, and sunscreen.  The lightweight formula, which provides broad spectrum UVA/UVB sun protection, also gives a little mineral shimmer to your skin.  It’s also rich in antioxidants that shield against pollution.  (Available at alastin.com)

Pamper post-sun skin with Lush.  The Breath of Fresh Air Toner gives a gentle spritz of sea water and aloe vera gel to refresh and rose to soothe.  Try putting it in the fridge!  The Ultrabalm All-purpose Balm includes rose wax, candelilla wax, and organic jojoba oil to moisturize and soothe irritated skin.  Aqua Marina Face and Body Cleanser is a creamy, gentle cleanser to calm skin using cooling aloe vera and pink calamine powder.  Remove flaky buildup and treat a dry, troubled scalp with the Superbalm Scalp Treatment.  (Available at lushusa.com)

The AMOREPACIFIC Sun Protection Mist Broad Spectrum SPF 30, part of their Resort Collection, is a lightweight sunscreen and veils the skin with a sheer, even layer.  The high-performance sun mist soothes skin while protecting against damaging sunrays.  The formula includes plum extract to protect against heat-aging, which accelerates oxidation and inflammation, two major causes of premature aging.  (Available at sephora.com)

The Neutrogena Beach Defense Sunscreen SPF 70 Spray provides broad spectrum UVA/UVB rays in a lightweight, fast absorbing mist.  BJ’s offers a two pack, which includes Ultra Sheer SPF Lotion.  And BJ’s helps bring awareness to skin cancer prevention and sun safety best practices by donating over $800,000 to the Melanoma Research Alliance.  (Available at BJs.com)

First Aid Beauty helps hydrate skin after a day in the sun with the FAB Ultra Repair Cream.  The head-to-toe hydrating cream helps severely dry, scaly skin due to environmental conditions.  The rich, whipped texture includes Shea Butter, Colloidal Oatmeal, and Allantoin and is safe for sensitive skin.  (Available at sephora.com)

Mineral Fusion introduces new moisturizers formulated with SPF.  The SPF Brightening Moisturizer is a lightweight moisturizer that evens out skin tone.  The SPF 15 Oil-Free Moisturizer provides oil-free hydration using kaolin clay to absorb excess oil.  The Mineral SPF 40 Moisturizer is an age defense cream that provides pure mineral SPF protection.  The Mineral SPF 30 Brush-On Sun Defense is a transparent, mineral sunscreen powder that brushes on with ease.  All Mineral Fusion products are cruelty-free and certified by Leaping Bunny!  (Available at mineralfusion.com)

Packed with antioxidants and lactobionic acid, the Exuviance Sheer Daily Protector SPF 50 protects skin and helps prevent future damage.  The formula helps prevent collagen breakdown and signs of photoaging such as lines and wrinkles.  The ultra-fine transparent formula evens out your complexion without any white residue.  (Available at ulta.com)