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Beach Bag Essentials

Head into the sun with top product picks and smart summer safety.


If you're prone to dryness, try CeraVe Facial Moisturizing Lotion AM SPF 30. It's great for everyday use and is infused with hyaluronic acid, a humectant that sits on top of the skin and attracts water from the air. Don't forget to coat your neck, chest, and the tops of your ears.

If you do accidentally burn, take down the inflammation fast with a thin layer of aloe vera gel. It's more than 90% H2O, so it has an instant cooling effect, rather like a blanket of water. Top that with a coat of 1% hydrocortisone cream like Cortizone 10 Creme with Aloe a couple times a day.

The one beach-bag product to splurge on is a topical antioxidant, which can neutralize harmful molecules called free radicals and defend against environmental damage. Vitamin C in the form of L-absorbic acid is one of my favorites, and it's abundant in SkinCeuticals Serum 10 AOX+. Use it under your sunscreen for an additional layer of protection against summer's harsh outdoor elements.

The opinions expressed in this section are of the experts and are not the opinions of WebMD. WebMD does not endorse any specific product, service, or treatment.


The New Sunscreen Rules

Be aware of the new regulations developed by the FDA for over-the-counter sunscreens that took effect in the summer of 2012.

Sunscreen versus sunblock

Sunscreens can no longer be labeled "sunblock" because the FDA says the claim is false. "Sunblock implies the product 'blocks' 100% of the sun's rays, which is untrue," Kauvar says. "Sunscreens will absorb, scatter, or reflect varying amounts of UVB and UVA, depending on their composition."

SPF ratings

Only a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher can be labeled to say things like "reduces skin cancer risk" and "protects against early skin aging."

Broad-spectrum sunscreens

Sunscreens must protect equally against UVB (burning) and UVA (aging) rays to be labeled "broad spectrum."

Waterproof versus water resistant

Sunscreens can no longer be labeled "waterproof" or "sweatproof." "Sunscreens will either have no water-resistance label or will be labeled resistant for 40 or 80 minutes," Kauvar says. Most won’t be water resistant because moisturizers with SPF rub off easily.

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