A recent study found that just 14% of American Men and 30% of American Women regularly use sunscreen before sun exposure, and with the coming Spring and Summer seasons (when the UV Index is at its highest) we typically spend more time outdoors. It is always the time for protective measures from the sun, but it is especially important to consider how to increase your sun protection during the warmer months!
Spending more time in the sun means spending more time on sun protection!
Here are my recommendations on how to keep your skin safest this Spring & Summer and be proactive in reducing your sun exposure:
- Use a Physical (Mineral) sunscreen on all exposed areas of the body (remember your ears!). A physical sunscreen sits on the top of your skin and reflects harmful UVA and UVB rays. It uses mineral ingredients such as Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide which are inert and safe for all age groups including children. Sometimes Physical sunscreens have a bad rep for being thicker and leaving a white cast, so I recommend three products that I love so much we carry them in office:
– Elta MD UV Clear, which is a thinner formula great for more oily skin types
– Elta MD Tinted Physical, a lightly tinted formula that is glowy and radiant for drier skin types
– Elta MD Body Sunscreen for the body
- The suns UV rays can damage your skin in as little as 15 minutes. Avoid being in the sun between the hours of 10am-4pm (if you can) when the sun is at its highest intensity.
- Wear protective clothing when possible. Tighter woven fabrics offer the best protection, and there is also UPF rated sun protection clothing available. UPF is a rating for how much UV radiation is absorbed by the fabric. For instance, a UPF rating of 50 means that 1/50th of the suns UV radiation with pass through the fabric. This means it can reduce the UV rays that reach your skin by 50 times or close to 98% UV protection. So, clothing with a UPF grading of 50 works even better then regular clothing.
- Wear a hat! About 7% of head and neck melanomas are found on the ears.
- Wear a SPF protective lip balm to protect your lips and re-apply every 2 hours, and after you drink or eat. 
- Some natural oils such as Carrot or Coconut oil do provide some sun protection (about SPF 4), but they are not enough so be sure to not rely on them solely for your sun protection.
- Consider upping your protection from the inside out. I often recommend Heliocare, a daily dietary supplement that helps maintain your skin’s ability to protect itself against the aging effects of free radicals. It helps protect skin, increases your skins sunburn threshold, and reduces the risk of skin cancer. In fact, a diet high in antioxidants in general is a good way to increase your sun protection as well.
If you find yourself with something on your body that you’re not sure of, be sure to get a skin check from your Dermatologist. I recommend yearly skin checks just to make sure your skin is free of concern. If you find yourself with sun damage, there are also some procedures I like to do in office to help the appearance. We can reverse age spots, broken collagen, fine lines and broken blood vessels which can all appear years after prolonged sun exposure.