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I regret the youthful insanity that once caused me to slather on tanning lotion and lay in the sun, hoping for a tan. Fortunately, it never became a habit because a) it was too uncomfortable and b) I finally had the good sense to realize that my fair skin was never going to get as brown as my lightest freckle.

A tan was once regarded as a sign of a person’s low station in life. Well-bred women did everything possible to cover themselves with hats and parasols to avoid getting a tan. That trend was turned on its ear after Coco Chanel returned from a sailing trip in 1923 and started a fad with her bronzed skin. How sorry I am to find that my old idol is credited with starting the tanning craze.

People still visit tanning beds, don’t they? For most of us, though, tanning has almost become taboo. Aiming for a healthy, bronzed look isn’t what it used to be, now that we fully understand the sun’s damaging effects—and now that self-tanners are so improved. (Although I contend that they may not be any healthier than the sun!)

In the 1970s, everyone wanted that sun-kissed look. As a fair-skinned redhead, I always felt out of step with old summer beauty rituals. Today’s ivory-skinned stars and runway beauties have mostly advanced the cause of people like me who gave up on tanning.

If we aren’t afraid of skin cancer, we’re at least concerned about the sun’s ability to make us look old before our time. More of us are using sunscreen. Despite better information on the health risks from the sun, we still have a lot to learn about sunscreen. I’ve been a devoted sunscreen user for as long as I can remember, but I only recently learned these tips from recent science on sunscreens.

Here are five revelations about sunscreen.

Don’t use sprays. As an avid golfer, I’ve always hated the way a thick, gooey sunscreen feels on my skin on a hot day. Unfortunately, it’s the better solution. Reason: Sprays don’t deposit enough protection. If that’s not enough to dissuade you, consider the risk of inhaling a thin mist of spray into your lungs. Bummer. I just bought a can for my golf bag.

Look for broad-spectrum protection. Choose products that offer UVA and UVB protection. Once upon a time, most sunscreens only protected us from ultraviolet B rays that caused sunburn, but they did nothing to keep us protected from ultraviolet A rays that cause aging, skin damage and cancer. Today’s sunscreens are required to carry a label that specifies their level of protection.

Reapply often with SPFs of 30 to 50. Anything above 50 is overkill. Worse, it can give you a false sense of protection that convinces you there’s no need to reapply. In fact, you should reapply at least every two hours. Apply generously in dollops the size of a golf ball.

Know your skin care products. Pay attention to other products like makeup and anti-aging formulations you may use that contain vitamin A and retinol products, which can cause greater sensitivity to the sun.

Pay attention to sunscreen ingredients. Nearly half of all sunscreens contain a chemical called oxybenzone, which can disrupt hormones, causing allergic reactions. It’s still a hotly contested, but most advocacy groups suggest products that use zinc oxide and titanium dioxide instead. Downside: they leave a milky white layer on the skin. Also avoid products with fragrance. They can add sensitivity.

To find the best suncreens, visit The Environmental Working Group, where you can search their 2013 database for information drawn from the EWG’s 2013 Guide to Sunscreens

I love to play golf in the sun, but I simply can’t bear to pull weeds under the same conditions. Is there something wrong with that picture? What are your plans in the summer sun? I hope whatever they are, you’ll be using sunscreen! I’m buying sunscreen for five random people who share this link and let me know about it on Facebook or Twitter using this hashtag: #DHDSunscreen

Stay tuned later this week and I’ll tell you about my $75 summer challenge.

Life is short. Wear the good stuff.