WITH TEMPERATURES soaring outside, we're trying anything to keep our cool. If you do have to venture outside, you should make sure you are adequately protected from damaging sun rays by wearing a hat, sunglasses and, of course, applying a generous amount of sunscreen. The Israel Cancer Association advises staying out of the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., and using a cream or lotion with a sunscreen protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 whenever you are exposed to sun rays. The UVA and UVB rays emitted by the sun are damaging to our skin, not only in the short run, but also long-term, and could cause skin cancer. The UVA rays penetrate deep into the skin and are responsible for wrinkles and aging of the skin. The UVB rays are shorter and can cause the skin to burn and turn red. A good sunscreen will protect your skin from both UVA and UVB rays but, in spite of the promises sometimes advertised prominently on the bottles, no cream filters these rays 100%, warns Nava Inbar of the Israel Cancer Association. On most bottles, besides the SPF number, which indicates the offered protection against UVB rays, you will find an indication of the protection against UVA rays. Dr. Fischer Ultrasol with an SPF of 34, for example, filters UVA rays for 99.4% while Life Face Sun Protection with an SPF of 50 filters them for 96%. Creams and emulsions with a higher SPF number will, in theory, provide a higher protection from sunburn, but even the creams with a high SPF number will have to be reapplied, especially after swimming. The higher the number, the longer you can expose your skin before it will burn. IN ISRAEL, you can find sunscreens with an SPF of 100, for example by Dr. Fischer, but this high number won't add much benefit, and the creams do get more expensive as the SPF gets higher. As said, the Israel Cancer Association recommends using a cream with an SPF of 15 and up, and the European Cosmetic Toiletry and Perfumery Association now recommends using lotions with an SPF of 50, claiming this number offers most benefits. The number you choose should depend on the color of your skin - people with fair skin and blond or red hair need a cream with a higher SPF than people with dark skin and hair. THE PRICE can be a decisive factor when buying a sunscreen - a more expensive brand doesn't necessarily offer more protection, though it may add other skin care qualities. The Life brand, sold at the SuperPharm chain, is, on average, the cheapest brand you can find. The Israeli brand Dr. Fischer dominates the local market, and has a wide range of products, from creams to mousse to sprays, for babies, kids, and adults, and for different skin types. A bottle of Dr. Fischer Ultrasol with an SPF of 15, for example, is NIS 45, a 200 ml. bottle of mousse with an SPF of 30 is NIS 75, and a box with 20 single-use wipes with sunscreen for kids, a new product in the Ultrasol line, is NIS 60. The Dr. Fischer Ultrasol creams also carry the seal of the American Skin Cancer Foundation. With prices for suntan lotions still being on the high side, you might want to keep an eye open for sales. The SuperPharm chain is offering your money back, in the form of a coupon to be spent in the store, when buying a Skingard product. This deal is valid until June 15. IN ISRAEL there is no law that requires companies to mention an expiration date on the packages of sunscreen products, and most people probably have stocks of lotions and creams that are bought last season or even longer ago. Because of chemical changes the products stop being useful after a while and, therefore, the Israel Cancer Association recommends use products during the year they are bought, and certainly not stock them for more than two years. A company that does state the expiration date on its products is Av ne, which offers a range of creams and emulsions containing Av ne's thermal spring water, making them suitable for sensitive skin. The Av ne sunscreens contain mineral filters and Vitamin E. These products, like other imported sunscreens, are rather expensive: a 50 ml. tube of Av ne cream or emulsion with an SPF of 50+ is NIS 109.95. MOST BRANDS will offer a separate sun protection cream for the face, and some can be used instead of your regular face cream. Skingard has a face cream with an SPF of 15 (also in an oil-free version for acne-prone skin), 34, and 50, with prices ranging from NIS 47 to NIS 54 for 60 ml. The new Life face cream with an SPF of 50 is NIS 45. Vichy has a sun block cream for the face and exposed areas of the skin with an SPF of 50+, offering a high protection against UVA rays, which is very easily absorbed and feels light. For this comfort, however, you will have to pay NIS 120 for 40 ml. of face milk or 50 ml. of face cream. Clarins has a new Eye Contour Care cream (SPF 30) containing 100% mineral filters, protecting the delicate skin around the eyes and preventing wrinkles. A 20 ml. tube is NIS 119. TO PROTECT your face on normal days, not only when spending time at the pool or at the beach, Clinique has the Super City Block, an oil-free face protector with SPF 40 that can be applied on top of a face cream and underneath make up; a 40 ml. tube is NIS 125. Clarins has a Protective Day Screen with SPF 40, protecting you from sunburn and pollution, thanks to a white tea extract. The Day Screen is applied on top of your regular face cream, making it ideal for women who want to continue using their regular cream, which doesn't contain an SPF. Again, you pay for the exclusive brand name: a 30 ml. bottle is NIS 229. THE BEST protection from the sun at the pool or at the beach is offered by swimwear with UV protection, such as the swimsuits made by the Australian company SunWay. Especially for little kids, they offer cute overalls with shoulder and upper arm coverage, or shorts and t-shirts with nice color schemes and pictures, filtering 98% of the UVA rays. Prices of overalls start at NIS 100, and shirts start at NIS 80. It will be a little harder to convince older kids to wear these suits (at least in my experience, my seven and nine-year old girls would rather wear their fashionable bikinis), but the more variety available, the more chances they will find something to their liking. My girls adamantly refused to wear pink suits with a picture of Barbie, but there are other options, such as flower prints. To check out the variety, go to www.sunwayswimwear.com. Hopefully, the companies such as SunWay and Speedo will come up with even more variety for older children, since it is especially important to shield kids from sunburn, which causes damage even later on in life. SunWay also has sun protection hats, with a brim and neck coverage, available in different colors for NIS 40. And if you're exposed to lots of sunshine during the day, you can protect your skin with clothes made by Columbia, with an UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) of 15, 30 or 50. You can find these pants, shirts, or hats at the Lametayel and Rikochet stores.