Whether you’re heading on a mid-winter escape or a summer beach weekend, there’s one thing you can’t leave home without: sunscreen. We talked to Dr. Doris Day, a New York City dermatologist and author of Forget the Facelift about what to look for when browsing the drugstore aisle.
According to Day, the main things to look for are SPF and types of protection. Find one that’s between SPF 30 and 50 (anything higher protects only incrementally more) and has UVA and UVB protection, she says. Broad-spectrum coverage makes the lotion more stable, so it will last longer in the sun—though Day still advises applying every two hours. For a tropical getaway, go for a water-resistant formula (there’s no such thing as waterproof). As for which form of sunscreen to choose: “It’s a matter of personal preference between a gel, cream, wipe, powder, spray, or lotion,” Day says. “They’re equally effective.” Just don’t pack more than 3.4 ounces in your carry-on—and don’t forget a hat, sunglasses, and protective or SPF-treated clothing.