Geishas, Victorian society ladies and Rihanna (in her hit “Umbrella,” if not in practice) were onto something: A recent study out of Emory University found umbrellas to be remarkably effective at protecting skin from the sun, blocking at least 75 percent of all UV rays. (All-black umbrellas are best, shielding more than 90 percent.) This is especially important in light of the fact that melanoma, the deadliest skin cancer, has increased 800 percent in young women over the past 40 years. “Most of it is preventable,” says Steven Q. Wang, M.D., director of dermatologic surgery and dermatology at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in Basking Ridge, New Jersey. Beyond umbrellas and hats, sun-blocking clothing—like rash guards and tunics from fashion-editor brand Parasol—is chicer than ever and a major help, especially for people who love to be in the water (sunscreens can no longer claim to be waterproof, though some last longer in water than others). A new bracelet called June by Netatmo monitors skin exposure and reminds you to reapply sunscreen or go inside.
What remains essential is finding a relatively high-SPF sun lotion and sticking with it—meaning reapplying obsessively, especially at the pool or beach, or while doing intense sports. Mineral formulas (the ones that take a bit more effort to rub in) block the sun’s rays and are better for sensitive skin; chemical ones, which work by absorbing the rays, blend easily but lose efficacy after two hours. (Definitely consider mineral formulas if you’re going in the ocean, to avoid releasing chemicals that damage coral reefs.) Future wrinkles and age spots are not the only reason to devote yourself to shielding your skin this summer. “We’re seeing more and more young patients,” says Wang. All the more reason to—seriously—take cover.
Click through above for new, inventive ways to protect your face and body from the summer sun.