Sun-Kissed Skin Care
Coconut-scented oils. Cooling mists. Tear-free formulas. Travel-friendly sticks. Kid-friendly Foams. There are a ton of sunscreen options out there, and SPF is just one factor to consider while selecting the one that’s right for you.
The sun in the Caribbean is strong, so you’ll need more than the SPF in your daily body lotion to protect your skin. In this part of the world, the sun’s rays hit the earth at a pretty direct angle and aren’t absorbed by the atmosphere. The days are longer, and even in the winter months, the UV rays can be strong until early evening. While sticking to the shade is advisable during peak sun hours, it isn’t always possible when you’re out exploring. Even if you’re in the shade, the sun can reflect off of the water and the sand, so make sure you’re properly lotioned up and prepared.
You’ll need a sunscreen with a sun protection factor—otherwise known as SPF—of at least 30. Make sure the sunscreen you pick is labeled broad spectrum. That means it protects against both UVA and UVB rays. You’ll also want one that’s water resistant if you’re going to be swimming or sweating. And since you’re in the Caribbean, there’s a good chance you’ll be doing both.
Sunscreens last for three years. So if you packed a bottle that you picked up a few years ago, one that’s been kicking around the bottom of your suitcase for eons, get rid of it and get a new bottle. The same goes for sunscreens that have been exposed to the elements.
Apply your sunscreen early and often. Put it on fifteen to thirty minutes before you head into the sun, and reapply every two hours—more often if you’re swimming, sweating, or toweling off, even if the sunscreen says it’s water resistant. Consumer Reports annual sunscreen test in 2014 found only two formulas tested still provided the SPF the package claimed after water immersion. And make sure you’re using enough—one ounce to cover the face and body, which can feel like an awful lot while you’re slathering it on. Most people stop at half that amount according to Consumer Reports. Think of it like this: if you are using the recommended amount, an eight-ounce bottle should last for only eight days—and that’s if you are applying it only once a day.
With sunscreen sticks and sprays, it can be tricky to tell if you are using the right amount. Sticks are easy to swipe on, and you should run it over your skin quite a few times to ensure you’ve built up enough coverage.
For sprays, lots of people end up misting a good portion of the product into the air instead of onto the skin. To prevent that, hold the bottle four to six inches from your skin and continuously spray each limb for two to four seconds. Do each part of your body twice to ensure you don’t miss any spots, and be sure to rub it in after each spray. While sprays are great for adults, be mindful that children could accidentally inhale the mist and irritate their lungs. Also be careful using a spray around an open flame.
With all this in mind, picking out a sunscreen can be a daunting task. Last spring, I made a quick run to the store to pick up a tear-free face formula, expecting to be in and out in under five minutes. I spent twenty minutes gazing in confusion at an entire aisle of options. Your vacation time is too precious for that. So to help you navigate the many, many options out there, our team did the research, tested the products, and made our selections for the standout sunscreens of the season.
Neutrogena UltraSheer Face & Body Stick glides on easy like a deodorant. The invisible formula is a mess-free way to apply sunscreen. It’s suitable for the face and the body, delivering clean, shine-free protection on the go.
© Neutrogena image courtesy of: Richard Pierce | All Rights Reserved
L’Oréal Paris Advanced Suncare Silky Sheer Lotion is packed with strong antioxidants like vitamin E and white grape seed to keep skin healthy and smooth.
Best For The Face
SkinCeuticals Physical Fusion UV Defense enhances natural skin tones with a universal tint that goes on clear and repels oil, which means you won’t have a white, shiny face in photos.
Best For Sport
Banana Boat Sport Performance Clear UltraMist has something the company calls powerstay technology. The lightweight, clear spray provides strong protection that absorbs quickly and won’t run into your eyes when you sweat.
Coppertone Sport AccuSpray claims a patented accurate-spray technology that means less mess and less wasted product.
Best For The Eco-Conscious
The Honest Co. Sunscreen Stick is from the headline-making company founded by Jessica Alba and focused on family-friendly, safe, eco-friendly products. This natural, unscented mineral sunscreen is easy to apply to faces, ears, and noses—great for all ages.
Hawaiian Tropic Dry Oil Clear Spray smells like paradise. It’s also packed with island botanicals that soothe, pamper, and nourish the skin.
Best For Vegetarians
Alba Botanica Very Emollient boasts some hefty environmental adherence: 100 percent vegetarian, biodegradable, reef-safe, never tested on animals, and the first natural sunscreen to earn the Skin Cancer Foundation Seal of Recommendation.
Best For Men
Banana Boat Triple Defense protects against the sun, odor, and dryness and boasts a manly scent to boot. It’s available as a lotion and a spray.
Best For The Water
Bull Frog Water Armor Sport Instacool is one of only two formulas tested by Consumer Reports that actually still offered the SPF level it claimed after time in the water. This one also cools and refreshes overheated skin thanks to a soothing menthyl lactate.
Best For Kids
Coppertone Kids Wacky Foam—a mousse that expands in your hand, distracting notoriously squirmy youngsters anxious to get back to the fun, then absorbs into skin fast. Banana Boat Kids Free Clear UltraMist is the runner-up in this category. It claims the title as the only alcohol-free, tear-free, sting-free kids clear spray.
Visit a Port of Call to Know More
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- Costa Maya
- Grand Cayman
- Grand Turk
- Key West
- Montego Bay
- Ocho Rios
- Port Canaveral
- San Juan
- St. Kitts
- Pacific Coast
- Cabo San Lucas
- Puerto Quetzal
- Puerto Vallarta