The drugstore chain is making a major change that will affect how you shop for sunscreen.
We hope you're not using tanning oils with single digit SPFs like 2 or 4 (if you are, please stop!), but you're no longer going to be able to buy them at CVS. The drugstore chain is taking any sun products with an SPF lower than 15 off its shelves, as part of their new Long Live Skin campaign.
"Products with an SPF under 15 offer inadequate protection, and people think they're getting more protection than they really are," says New York City dermatologist Janet Prystowsky, M.D.
The campaign, a partnership with Johnson & Johnson and the American Cancer Society, aims to increase consumer education about skin care and sun safety. This includes educational signage in CVS stores, and more derm-approved, higher SPF, and natural and organic sunscreen options available throughout 2017. "Taking good care of your skin is part of taking care of your health, so we're making it easier than ever for our shoppers to access the information and products they need, including those with greater skin health benefits," said Judy Sansone, senior vice president of front store business and chief merchant at CVS Pharmacy, in a press release about the launch of the campaign.
How should you shop the new sunscreen aisle? Your best bet is to look for a broad-spectrum formula, meaning that it protects against both UVA and UVB rays, with at least an SPF 30 to 50, suggests Dr. Prystowsky. (You can also check out this convenient list of the year's best sunscreens.) Keep in mind that while the difference in protection between SPF 15 and SPF 30 isn't massive (the former blocks 93 percent of UVB rays, the latter 97 percent), most people don't apply enough or reapply frequently enough to get the labeled amount of protection. So it's always best to err on the higher side. (The American Academy of Dermatology recommends a minimum of SPF 30 for daily use.)
Above all, remember that picking an effective sunscreen is only part one of a solid sun protection plan. The second, very important, part is using it correctly. That means slathering up 365 days a year, rain or shine, and reapplying every two hours or after physical activity, notes Dr. Prystowsky. Not only will practicing safe sun protect you from developing skin cancer (two types of which are increasing at alarming rate, according to a recent report), but it will also keep signs of aging—wrinkles, spots, all those things no one wants—at bay. The bottom line: Follow CVS's lead and ditch any low-level SPFs, stat.