From all the formula factors to consider — How high of an SPF? Will it bother your sensitive skin? Does it easily sweat off? — to which part of your body needs what, Joshua Zeichner, MD, board-certified dermatologist and assistant professor in the dermatology department at Mt. Sinai Medical Center in New York City, is here to make the experience a lot less confusing.
1. Choose a Trusted Brand
If you're trying to decide between the fancy new bottle you see celebrities promoting on Instagram or a brand name you've seen on store shelves for years, stick with your go-to.
Dr. Zeichner says choosing a trusted brand with a track record of high-quality products is always the best option. The bottle might not be as pretty, but your skin will be thanks to the optimal protection.
2. Use at Least SPF 30
And when you're in doubt, Zeichner recommends going even higher.
"It acts like a safety net to give the highest amount of protection, even when you're not applying as much as you should or not reapplying," he says.
3. Use Water Resistant SPF When Necessary
Are you going to be spending time in the pool and/or playing volleyball? Make sure your SPF will protect you when things get sticky.
"If you are going to be sweating or swimming, make sure the sunscreen is water resistant," Zeichner says. "The bottle will say resistant for up to 40 or 80 minutes."
4. Choose the Right Formula for You
You've got creams, lotions, gels, sprays, sticks, and oils... talk about information overload! Zeichner knows there are countless products out there, but he's not going to tell you what's best because you're the only one who has the right answer to that question.
"Choose the right formulation for your preference, because now there's something for everyone," he says.
5. Use Different Types of Sunscreen on Different Body Parts
We've already embraced multi-masking — now it's time to embrace multi-sunscreening! Afraid to use your body sunscreen on your sensitive face? Don't. Zeichner says using multiple types is totally fine — and is actually encouraged.
"Consider your skin needs and think about one product for the body and another for the face," he says. "Face products have special aesthetics and ingredients to fit the needs of facial skin."