We know you’ve heard this countless times from us, your dermatologist, primary care, and article after article. However, it is good to be reminded as there might be a nugget of information you did not know.
Soooo… a few pointers about protecting your skin from the sun:
- You need to protect all your skin, not just your face. Do not neglect, the neck, neckline, back of the neck, or head – whether you’re bald or not – arms, legs, or anything that is exposed to the sun.
- If you are going to be out in the sun for extended periods of time you may want to add sunblock on your body, even though it might be covered by clothing. There are clothes that are SPF-certified, especially athletic wear. This should also be considered for those of you who work outside or are athletically inclined from long walks, hikes, bike rides, or gardening, to name a few.
- Don’t neglect your lips. Use a lip balm with an SPF of at least 30.
- Speaking of SPF, according to the American Academy of Dermatology:
- Sunscreen should be broad-spectrum covering UVA and UVB rays.
- SPF of 30 or higher. SPF 30 blocks 97% of the sun’s UVB rays. No sunblock provides 100% protection.
- Use a sunscreen that is water resistant.
- Don’t let the clouds fool you, 80% of harmful UV rays can penetrate clouds.
- Reapply sunblock every 3 hours.
- Most windows do not block harmful UV rays. In a CBS News article citing a New England Journal of Medicine article (registration might be needed), you can see the unilateral damage to a truck driver’s face from one-sided exposure to the sun through his window in 28 years of driving (see image). Lesson? Use sunblock.
- When using spray-on sunblock, make sure to rub it in. Just spraying it on can leave gaps in coverage that can lead to skin damage and burns. Also, make sure that there is plenty of sunblock and not just a light layer.
- It is best to use a separate, dedicated sunblock along with your moisturizer and makeup. For example, mixed sunblock with moisturizers may not be as effective.
- Be aware that certain treatments and medications may make your skin photosensitive, increasing the chances of damage and burn, including but not limited to:
- Laser treatments
- Microneedling and Morpheus8 treatments
- Acne medications, like Tretinoin
- Anti-inflammatory medications like NSAIDs (i.e., ibuprofen)
- Finally, protecting your skin from the sun is not only a summer activity. Even though there is less sun intensity in the winter months, sun damage can occur and become more pronounced at higher elevations, while on water or surrounded by snow due to their reflective and magnifying qualities.
If you are unsure of your exposure and how to protect yourself, ask a medical professional for guidance.