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Therese Iknoian

Traveler | Photographer at HI Travel Tales
Little did her parents know that a short trip to Europe in high school would launch a lifetime love of travel, languages and cultures. Trained as a news journalist, Therese Iknoian spent a decade as a daily newspaper journalist before launching a freelance writing career specializing in outdoor, fitness and training. All the while trotting the globe, her focus finally turned to travel. Fluent in German, Therese runs a translation business (www.ThereseTranslates.com) working primarily with companies in the outdoor/sports/retail industry. Also a French speaker, she loves to learn a bit of the language wherever she goes -- gdje je kupaonica? Мне нужна помощь! -- often embarrassing herself in the quest for cross-cultural communication and the search for great travel discoveries.
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Sunscreen-SunHI Travel Tales has been asked frequently what our recommended sunscreen brands are. Sunscreen is not seasonal and we advocate wearing sunscreen year-round of course. We have tested so many brands.

Remember, we are kinda maniacs about the importance of sunscreen here – and I’m the chief maniac — having done some lengthy and shocking investigative research in the past.

Click here to access my story announcing the Food and Drug Administration’s 2011 move after decades of inaction to implement better labeling, marketing and testing requirements. These regulations finally went into effect in December 2012 so you may start seeing new labels this spring based on it.

Simple drug store brands may not do the trick for good protection. Yes, they are often cheaper, but I’m not convinced that cheaper is better when it’s about protecting yourself from cancer. Plus, most sunscreens made purely with minerals don’t require as much for an application, thus making the price in reality lower than other cheaper and thinner types that require globs and globs.

Recommended Sunscreen Brands

For our latest recommended sunscreen brands, here are a few of our newer favorites, all are blockers focused on zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide. All are very water resistant, broad-spectrum, 30-50 SPF and no BS or bling.

Cotz – You won’t necessarily see its name that on the label but the Fallene skincare company makes a number of sunscreens that are some of our favorites. Plus it also has some that are a matte finish with a beige flesh color and go on like a makeup base for less-obvious daytime wear. Face Cotz (my personal fave for my face), as well as Cotz Face with the skin tone color, has an amazing dry feel but goes on thickly, leaving us feeling well protected (zinc oxide, 3.8 percent; titanium dioxide, 8 percent). Both are available in 1.5-ounce tubes. The Total Block line is also by Fallene, as is the Solar Protection line (zinc oxide, 3 percent; titanium dioxide, 10 percent). Also look for a foam application if you hate rubbing in lotions. Trivia: “Cotz” stands for “Contains Only Titanium and Zinc). Approximately $18 – $20, depending on size, ingredients and brand. Buy Cotz Sunscreen herewww.cotzskincare.com, www.solarprotectionformula.com, www.totalblock.com

Sunology has only been on the market since about March 2012 but is doing it right by not cutting corners. It is also the official supplier for the LPGA. The dry-feeling lotion is just zinc oxide (10 percent) and titanium dioxide (7.5 percent). Use sparingly and the 3-ounce tube will last quite awhile – and you’ll get protection without being too terribly white. We swore by this stuff when on a sailboat and hanging out under the pounding Fiji sun. $14.99 (body lotion). Buy Sunology Sunscreen here. www.sunology.com

Thinksport, the first sunscreen to pass Whole Foods Premium Care requirements, contains a whopping 20 percent zinc oxide. That’s it. Just zinc oxide. Making it a safe blocker that sits on top of your skin. That means it is whiter than some others but a good rub will eliminate that. Plus it has a non-oily feel. It’s branded LIVESTRONG with donations going to fight cancer. $15.99 for the 3-ounce tube. Buy Thinksport Sunscreen herewww.thinksport.co

Remember, even though we have listed our recommended sunscreen brands, sunscreen products change constantly – even one that looks the same. So read labeling carefully to be sure you’re getting what you want. And even though spring and summer are “sunscreen season,” in reality all year is sunscreen season since the sun never goes away, even when it’s cloudy.

You can click here to find a reader question and our answer on sunscreen SFP numbers.

Want even more detail? Click here to go directly to the FDA information.