The NYTimes on sunscreens and suncare. Looks like Neutrogena has released a sunscreen, Ultra Sheer SPFs 55 and 45, that is as effective as European sunscreens in blocking UVA rays.
The article also notes that a dry t-shirt only provides, on average, SPF 7 worth of sun protection (darker shirts are superior in this regard). When I worked a summer internship at P&G way back in the day, my roommate spent the summer testing sunscreens, and the common mistake, he told me, was that people don't slather enough sunscreen on.
American and European cultures hold a golden tan in high regard, but in Asia, fair skin is the holy grail. That may have cultural roots. My mother told me that in olden times, dark skin was an indication that you were a farmer or other worker who had to be in the sun all day. Fair skin was the province of the nobility. In American and Europe, a tan hints at yachts and vacation homes in St. Tropez, and perhaps somewhere along the line wires crossed and the tan became an indicator of health instead of (in addition to?) wealth.