By Alix Turoff

Right now you may be fantasizing about the way your deep tan will look with your white jeans and your hot pink tank this summer. But, as you age, and your skin starts to wrinkle and show signs of aging due to sun damage, you probably won’t be so happy. And leathery skin isn’t the only thing we’re worried about…According to the Skin Cancer foundation, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States with over 3.5 million cases diagnosed each year. Yikes!

Skin cancer, though, isn’t something only older people have to worry about. Rather, melanoma is the most common form of cancer for adults in their 20’s. And it is caused by ultraviolet radiation from the sun.

More scary facts about melanoma and prevention!

We’re not suggesting that you take to a life of perpetual umbrellas and huge sun hats (although many of us here are going the route!) but what we are strongly suggesting is that you protect yourself and your skin by wearing the right sunscreen – every. single. day.

Heading to your local Duane Reade, though, has been known to cause a mild anxiety attack in many an SPF shopper because of the sheer number of options and confusing numbers and letters out there: SPF? UVB? UVA? 30? 40? What???!?!

Here’s what you need to know…

SPF stands for “Sun Protection Factor” and it indicates the level of protection the sunscreen will provide. The higher the number, the more protection. (Although added protection is minimal after an SPF of 30, so don’t get too caught up in trying to find an SPF 100.)

Sun hats to help protect your face even more!

UVB rays affect the epidermis, or the top layer of the skin, which results in nasty sunburns. UVB rays are the strongest during sunny, summer days between the hours of 10:00am and 2:00pm so it’s super important to apply and reapply your sunscreen continuously.

UVA rays affect the dermis or the deeper layer of skin, which contributes to long-term sun damage and skin cancer. While UVB rays are highest in the summer, UVA rays don’t seasonally discriminate and are present at all times during the year so it’s also important to wear your sunscreen during those cloudy winter days too).

Our top picks…

On cloudy days and all winter long… we really like to use Clinique Moisture Surge Tinted Moisture SPF 15 ($24.50) in the winter and months leading up to summer for protection against UVA rays as well as a nice hint of color that evens out the skin tone and gives you a bronze glow. We found it even works as a concealer for hiding little imperfections.

More self-tanning tips!

For daily use… we like NIA 24’s Sun Damage Prevention UVA/UVB Sunscreen ($45), which has an SPF of 30 and a rating of PA+++ (making it the highest grade of protection against harmful rays). We also like that this product is clear, unlike many sunscreens that leave a white residue.

To keep in our beach bags… Tocca Stella SPF 30+ Sunscreen Towelettes ($28) are perfect for keeping in our beach bags for emergency touch-ups or when you forget to bring your sunscreen. Each towelette is individually wrapped and saturated in a sweat resistant sunscreen (and, obviously, we love with the classic Stella scent, perfect if you want your sunscreen to double as a perfume).

For active days… try MD SolarSciences SPF 40 Quick Dry Body Spray ($21) when your planning on an outdoor workout. Just throw it in your tennis bag or spritz it before heading out for a run for UVA and UVB protection without that oily feeling that doesn’t really mix well with sweat.

For drugstore junkies… when we heard about Cetaphil UVA/UVB Defense SPF 50 Facial Moisturizer ($13.99) we were psyched! It’s not only one of our favorite drugstore brands, but also this moisturizer is specifically designed for the face, so it won’t make your skin oily (or cause unwanted breakouts).

To reverse sun damage… If you’re looking to reverse the damage from childhood burns, try StriVectin-SH Age Protect SPF 30 ($49). It not only offers great UVA protection but also reverses signs of aging.

The anti-aging workout!