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May 25th, 2009
10:19 AM ET

Sunscreen Season Begins

From CNN Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and CNN Producer Sabriya Rice

Memorial Day is the official start of summer, and so the official start of sunscreen season. A trip to the sunscreen aisle of your drug store can be bamboozling – there are so many products out there it can be difficult to choose. So here are the basics of buying a sunscreen to protect your skin this summer.

What SPF should I buy?: SPF 30 works just fine, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. SPF 30 sunscreens let in 3% of harmful rays. A sunscreen with an 85 SPF lets in 1% of harmful rays. The difference doesn’t matter, according to dermatologists. “There are diminishing returns at the higher numbers,” says Dr. Amy Derick, a spokeswoman for the AAD.

What else should I look for on the label? Make sure your sunscreen blocks both UVA and UVB rays. Some products don’t block UVA rays, which can cause wrinkles and age spots.

How much should I put on? Don’t be skimpy on the sunscreen. Use an ounce to cover your body – that’s enough to fill a shot glass. Re-apply every hour, or more frequently if you’ve been swimming.

What brand should I buy? According to the Environmental Working Group, some brands are better than others. See their report at

Filed under: Heidi Collins • Tony Harris
soundoff (13 Responses)
  1. Correction


    Thanks for your reporting today. There was an error when you aired the Chaplin and SFC earler, you refered to the Sergeant as Specalist First Class, He is a Sergeant First Class there is no such rank as you spoke. We all forgive you.

    SFC Sublett
    US Army Ft Campbell, KY

    May 25, 2009 at 10:38 am |
  2. MGySgt Doug Nikkel

    My thoughts are with my brothers in arms here with me in Iraq and those in Afghanistan. As I sit with my fellow Marines having our Memorial Day Dinner, I cant help but think of those that have passed on in defense of our freedoms. I am proud to live in a country where those that serve are honored and those that sacraficed are memorialized. We should never forget what they gave for each of us. Without their sacrafice, our freedoms may have never been acheived.

    May 25, 2009 at 10:38 am |
  3. Foster H. McNair III

    On this solemn day I think about the service my family has given and is stil giving, my sister now deceased serverd three tours in Vietnam she died of a strange cancer, I served during Vietnam in the Navy and my son is currently in the Navy and did one tour of Iraq. God bless all the men and women who have given their lives for our nation.

    May 25, 2009 at 10:40 am |
  4. Tim Gilbert, fort laudedale beach, to

    Please Insert a hyperlink to sunscreen brand recommendation report from your sunscreen article. I unable to click it from iphone. Thx

    May 25, 2009 at 10:41 am |
  5. jai

    Iam a Retired Sergeant First Class, the unit I belonged in 1991 lost two soldiers and my thoughts and prayers go out to all fallen soldiers. I would like to point out to Heidi, the two soldiers you spoke with, was a Chaplian and a Sergeant First Class, not a Specialist First Class, that rank does not exist.

    May 25, 2009 at 10:42 am |
  6. Laura Morrison

    On January 8, 2009, our family lost our soldier in Maiwand Afghanistan. Cpl Keith Eric Essary was lost that day, along with fellow soldier Staff Sergeant Joshua Rath. Memorial Day will never be the same for our families again. We are so grateful to all of the fallen soldiers that have given their lives so that we may have our freedoms. Please keep all of the soldiers that are still fighting and their families in your prayers. Pray for the soldiers to come home safe and for peace to their families as they wait for their return.

    May 25, 2009 at 10:46 am |
  7. Mitch Treider

    I am grateful for my father Bernard D. Treider's service in the U.S. Marines.He fought in Korea and lost many of his friends, as well as his best friend in the Battle of the Chosin Resevoire.Although my father passed away when I was 9 years old. I feel his presence this Memorial day. I am so proud of him, and proud to be an American. God Bless America, and all the dedicated servicemen who serve and protect her. ~Mitch

    May 25, 2009 at 10:49 am |
  8. Robert Barrett

    As a Flight Engineer with the Air Force Reserves for 26 years, Memorial Day has a special meaning to me. Many of my tours are taking the young men and women to the war fronts. For many, it is their first flight overseas, sending them into harms way. The terror in their eyes as they step off my aircraft often hidden by jokes and jesters is noticable. Vice versa, as we bring these young men and women home from the war front, the cheers are often so loud that we can't hear the radio calls but thats OK, we are bringing them home.

    As we taxi into the ramps, parents, husbands, wives, children and friends waiting, waving flaps, holding signs brings a real joy to the crew. As the soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines step off the aircraft, making eye contact with loved ones is the greatest joy anyone can imaging. Some seeing new borns for the first time, some lossing family members and friend during their deployment. All having tears of joy and sorrow

    We need to remember, Memorial day isn't a day of sales, BBQs, or a day off of work, it to remember the young men and women that paid the ultimate sacifice to give us the freedoms we enjoy today.

    May 25, 2009 at 11:02 am |
  9. Karen Molosky

    I am proud and grateful for all the men and women who have sacrificed for our freedom. Thank you.

    White Marble Markers

    White marble markers lined up in rows
    For as far as the eye can see
    Identifying those who gave their lives
    In a war
    Far or near

    Flags fly gracefully – high on their poles
    Men and boys take off their hats
    Quietly standing at attention
    With reverence for these souls that have passed

    Women and children lay down bright flowers
    Holding hands as they recollect
    Hankies and sleeves wipe away tears that flow
    Out of love – loss and respect

    For these soldiers – sons and daughters – husbands – wives
    Aunts and uncles – cousins – nieces – nephews
    Grand and great grand fathers – mothers – fathers
    Friends and neighbors – even lovers
    All these brave men and women who’ve lost their lives

    Was what they fought for right?

    Was it in their best interest to get caught up in the fight?

    There is honor in serving your country
    Certainly there is honor in living your life
    There is honor in being grateful
    For all those that have given their lives

    Now lying beneath white marble markers
    For as far as the eye can see
    Are the many brave men and women

    That died fighting for all that is free!

    ©copyright 2009 Karen Molosky

    May 25, 2009 at 11:21 am |
  10. michael armstrong sr.

    since the sun causes cancer do you think the government will have a sun tax like on cigarets .

    May 25, 2009 at 12:48 pm |
  11. jeff dickson

    wondering about the effect of the petroleum in the sunscreen on our skin ??

    May 25, 2009 at 2:21 pm |
  12. Emelia

    Sotomayor is the new face of America. Where in the world can you find an African American president and a Hispanic supreme court justice? In the great country of US. She is very educated and intellectual and that I love so Obama is doing well in his next one hundred days!

    May 26, 2009 at 10:54 am |
  13. Marta Rang

    Magnificent web site. Plenty of useful info here. I am sending it to a few friends ans additionally sharing in delicious. And of course, thanks on your sweat!

    January 28, 2021 at 10:14 pm |

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