Old rule: Apply a broad-spectrum UVA/UVB sunscreen with SPF 15 a half-hour before leaving the house.
New rule: Sunscreen alone is not enough: Wear an SPF 15 (at least) plus an antioxidant-enriched moisturizer.
"It’s no longer just about UV dam-age," says Fredric Brandt, MD, a dermatologist in New York City and Miami. "The sun also generates free radicals that break down your collagen and elastin fibers." Anti-oxidants in ingredients like soy, green tea, and vitamin C prevent free radicals from attacking, and they boost your protection level, too. Use a souped-up sunscreen like Prevage Day Ultra Protection Anti-Aging Moisturizer SPF 30 ($125; elizabetharden.com), which contains the powerful antioxidant idebenone. Or make sure your daily moisturizer has antioxidants in it so you’re covered from the start, then apply sunscreen as usual.
If you’re going to the beach, go higher than SPF 15, Dr. Brandt says. Most people don’t apply enough, so they may end up getting a protection level of 7 out of their 15. But if you’re slathering on 70? You’ll probably get at least a 30, so you’re good.
Old rule: Throw on a T-shirt or cover-up when you’re in direct sunlight.
New rule: If you’re not into sun-protective clothing, wear dark colors and tightly woven fabrics at peak hours.
You can’t get away with any ol’ thing (donning a breezy sarong is like wearing nothing at all). Fabrics have UPF ratings that measure their level of UV protection; a 30 is necessary to be awarded the Skin Cancer Foundation’s Seal of Recommendation. (FYI: A plain white tee comes in under 10.) If you’re up for a quick extra step, check out SunGuard Sun Protection ($2; sunguardsunprotection.com), a clear dye you can add to your laundry for an immediate UPF 30 that will last through 20 washings.