The sizzling summer sun doesn't have to keep you from enjoying California's great outdoors, but be smart about it.
Even though there's growing awareness about the damage sun rays can cause, the rates of melanoma have been rising for the last 30 years, said David Andrews, a senior scientist for the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit agency that specializes in research and advocacy.
One factor is that sunscreen's efficacy isn't just about using it — but how you use it:
Purchase "Broad Spectrum" UVA/UVB-protection sunscreen. Use an SPF 30 or higher, but anything higher than 50 can be unnecessary and misleading. Reapply about a shot-glass amount of sunscreen per area at least every two hours or immediately after swimming or heavy sweating. And check the expiration date — products that are too old should be tossed.
The good news is that sunscreens are improving, Andrews said, "but a critical part of our messaging is that sunscreen is not the end-all or be-all, it's not the magic bullet or the magic cream that's going to make you invincible to the sun's rays, it's a tool. It's a piece of your sun-protection strategy that needs to include sun-protective clothing, hats and UV-protecting shades."
Also, avoid peak sun hours — about 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. — and stay in the shade, which is especially important for infants.
Clinique Mineral Sunscreen Fluid For Face, SPF 50. $26. Clinique.com
COOLA Suncare Sport Tint Mineral Sunscreen Stick, SPF 50. $26. Shop.cCoolaSuncare.com
Coppertone Sport High Performance Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30. $10. Amazon.com
Cover FX Clear Cover Invisible Sunscreen, SPF 30. $45. CoverFx.com
Kiehl's Super Fluid UV Mineral Defense Sunscreen, SPF 50+. $38. Kiehls.com
The Body Shop Vitamin E Lip Care Stick, SPF 15. $4.95. TheBodyShop.com
Banana Boat SunComfort Clear UltraMist Spray, SPF 50+. $7.59. Target.com
Equate Sport Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 50. $4.98. Wal-Mart.com
La Roche-Posay Anthelios Melt-in Sunscreen Milk, SPF 60 $35.99. laroche-posay.us
Trader Joe's Nourish Spray, SPF 50+. $5.99. Trader Joe's stories nationwide.