Here comes the sun

Appears in the June 2019 issue.

By Cara Sullivan

Creams and needles can do their part to blur age spots and smooth lines, but pros agree that daily sunscreen use is the single best way to prevent them—and most skin cancers, too. Here, Dr. Juliana Basko-Plluska of Naperville’s Basko Dermatology shines a light on the latest sun smarts, just in time for summer.

You’ll see everything from SPF 15 to 100 on drugstore shelves, but most derms—Basko included—recommend staying in the SPF 30 to 50 range. “The numbers tell us how much UVB a sunscreen can filter out,” she says. “SPF 30 filters 97 percent of UVB rays, for example, while SPF 50 protects against 98 percent.” For the average person, anything higher than that simply isn’t necessary.

Those aforementioned UVB rays, the main cause of sunburn and skin cancer, are only half of the equation; UVA rays, which contribute to skin cancer and premature aging, are the other half. To combat both, “look for the phrase ‘broad-spectrum’ on the bottle,” says Basko-Plluska.

Under normal circumstances, you’ll want to slather on a new layer of lotion every two to three hours—unless you’re swimming. “In that case, it’s important to use a water-resistant formula and reapply every 40 to 80 minutes,” she says.

No one likes going in for a checkup, but “it’s estimated that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime—and the best way to catch it is with an annual exam,” says Basko-Plluska. The good news: “Skin cancer is highly treatable when caught early,” she says.


Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen SPF 45
This potent potion offers broad-spectrum protection, is water resistant for up to 80 minutes, and boasts a lightweight, noncomedogenic formula that won’t cause breakouts. $11,

SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic
This beauty industry favorite relies on Vitamins C and E to brighten, blur, and undo sun damage, making it worth every single penny of its hefty price tag. $166,

Jergens Natural Glow Daily Moisturizer
When applied like regular lotion to towel-dried skin, this drugstore whip delivers a subtle golden glow that that builds as you use and it outperforms most high-end brands in the believable color category. $9.99,

Photograph by John Jennings