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Sun Protection Tips For a Healthy and Attractive Complexion

By Cynthia Bailey MD. This page was updated on Tue, Mar 31, 2020

sun protection tips
Sun protection tips from a dermatologist can keep your skin healthy and strong over the years. In my 30 years practicing dermatology, I have done well over 200,000 skin exams on sun-loving Californians. I've seen over and over what sun does to skin and what sun protection strategies and sunscreens work. 

Get Sun Protection Tips from a Dermatologist

    Most of the skin changes we associate with aging are actually due to sun exposure:

    • The process of wrinkles and dermal thinning are due to a breakdown of skin collagen activated by UV rays.
    • Uneven pigment skin color is also caused or exacerbated by sun.
    sun protection tips from dermatologist Dr. Cynthia Bailey

    Every person’s skin will appear better when it is sun protected. UV rays from the sun cause damage that leads to wrinkling, skin thinning, liver spots, uneven skin pigmentation and skin cancer. There is no denying the negative impact the sun has on your skin, no matter how much pigment your skin naturally has. - Dermatologist and Skin Wellness Expert Dr. Cynthia Bailey

    The good news is that practical, effective, comfortable and fashionable sun protection is now easy because of advances in sunscreen and sun protection fiber technologies.

    How do you conveniently, fashionably and easily keep the sun off your skin while you enjoy the outdoors?

    The simple concept of UV protection is that you want to prevent UV rays from entering your skin. You can do that by applying sunscreen that acts as a shield, or you can cover your skin with clothing that does the same thing.

    Even in the shade or near a window, UV rays (though fewer) are still bouncing around. That means sun up to sun down, you want your skin protected.

    What Is Sun Protective Clothing?

    Look for clothing rated as UPF 50, and cover as much of your skin as you can. Not every cloth blocks UV rays, but technology now exists to alter fabric fibers so that they block the UV rays. When you plan to be outdoors, you want to be certain the fabric in your clothing is sun protective. Your skin will feel more comfortable when you wear UPF 50 clothing instead of exposing your skin to the sun.

    The brand of sun protective clothing that I trust the most is Coolibar. Coolibar has the most advanced sun protection fiber technology available. The UPF protection of Coolibar clothing lasts for the lifetime of the garment. Coolibar makes clothing for all activities including walking, running, golf, tennis, swimming, and snorkeling. I garden, hike, and swim in Coolibar all year long.

    Another alternative product is called SunGuard. This is a UPF treatment you can use to wash into your favorite garments. SunGuard creates sun protective clothing out of what is in your closet.

    Did you know that a simple tee shirt has an SPF of 5? It's even lower if you use it for swimming and stretch out the wet fabric. Yep, that’s not good enough for your precious skin! I recommend you wear real UPF rated clothing for days you plan to spend in the sun. - Dr. Cynthia Bailey 

    How do you protect skin that is not covered by sun protective clothing?

    The skin under your sun protective clothing is safe and you can relax about being in the UV rays. For every inch of skin that you can’t cover with clothing, such as your hands, face, ears, neck, you need to put in effort for sun protection.

    Sun protection infographic

    I teach people to “A.S.K” themselves: Will my exposed skin be protected? Sun protection is as easy as this simple word and I explain the details of how to know that your skin is well sun protected in my free Sun Protection Infographic. I invite you to download it and share it with friends and family. It helps simplify the confusion around dermatologist recommended sun protection. Click here to share my Sun Protection Infographic and help everyone in your life get the best sun protection that they can. Here's what A.S.K stands for:

    A: APPLY THE RIGHT SUNSCREEN TO ALL EXPOSED SKIN

    I only trust zinc oxide-based sunscreens. I’ve followed the sunscreen science for 30+ years, and it is my opinion that zinc wins out over all the others. Zinc oxide is a mineral that actually reflects UV rays. It has broad spectrum for both UVB and UVA and it is durable on your skin.

    All other sunscreens either are not broad or are not durable. The chemical sunscreens (everything other than zinc oxide and titanium dioxide) work by neutralizing UV rays instead of bouncing them, causing a heat-generating chemical reaction on your skin. I’m not a fan.

    Because I am such a zinc oxide advocate, I have stocked great mineral zinc oxide sunscreens to fit every complexion, physical activity, and a range of personal values and budgets.

    Sheer Strength Pure Physical Sunscreens

    Click here to see the sunscreens that I trust for my skin and that of my patients. I’ve watched these sunscreens serve my thousands of patients well and they trust these products too.

    Over my years of medical practice, I’ve heard many stories and seen the results of other sunscreens failing. For these reasons, I’m very specific about sunscreen and I use only well-made zinc oxide sunscreen products in my practice and for my family. Zinc oxide technology has evolved rapidly in the past decade and there are a variety of invisible and easy-to-use mineral zinc oxide sunscreen products to choose from.

    View Dr Bailey's Recommended Sunscreens

    Sunscreen application tips:

    • Apply your zinc oxide SPF 30+ broad spectrum sunscreen to all uncovered skin. Don’t forget your ears, the back and sides of your neck and the back of your hands.
    • Apply enough sunscreen to get the full SPF of protection.
      • The average size adult needs 1 ounce of sunscreen to cover their body in a bathing suit.
      • 1 teaspoon of sunscreen is needed for the full head and neck.
      • For the face, most people need 1/3 to 1/4 teaspoon of sunscreen depending on the size of their facial surface area. 
    • Reapply your sunscreen every 2 hours during intense sun exposure.
    • Always reapply sunscreen after swimming, sweating or rubbing product off your skin.

    S: SEEK AND CREATE SHADE

    Shade helps reduce the number of UV rays that take aim at your skin!

    • Make shade for your face and scalp by wearing a wide-brimmed hat.
    • Shade your delicate eye area by wearing UV-blocking sunglasses.
    • Shade the rest of your body by being under umbrellas, or in the shade of trees and structures.

    Even in the shade, you need sunscreen and sun protective clothing because some UV rays bounce around.

    best sun hats for sun protection

    Sun hats create mobile shade for your precious head and neck skin - the most at-risk skin when it comes to skin cancer and sun damage! - Dr. Cynthia Bailey

    Choose your hat for good sun protection. Not all hats protect your skin.

    • Be sure that your sun protection hat is made of sun blocking fabric, ideally tested and rated UPF50+.
    • Wear a hat with a full 3 or more inch brim, the necessary brim to protect the average adult face/ears/neck.
    • A sun protection hat must cover your scalp skin too.

    Don’t rely on ball caps or visors to shade your skin fully. They are a dermatologist's job security.

    I have a collection of attractive, and affordable hats so that you can use them hard and often, but still feel fashionable.

    View Dr Bailey's Recommended Sun Hats

     K: KNOW YOUR EXPOSURE RISK

    UV ray intensity varies with the season, time of day, where you live, and proximity to reflective surfaces. Be extra careful and try to avoid direct sun exposure during the times when the sun's UVB rays are most intense.

    When are UVB rays most intense?

    • UVB intensity is the highest at 10 am – 2 pm standard time, or 11 am – 3 pm daylight savings time.
    • UVB is more intense:
      • in the summer,
      • near the equator, and
      • at high altitude.

    UVA rays are the other UV ray that damages skin. 

    • From 'sun up to sun down' UVA rays are strong enough to damage skin. This includes morning, night and in the winter when sun feels 'softer'.
    • UVA rays come through most glass too.

    Don’t be fooled by the seemingly ‘softer’ morning and late afternoon light - stay protected.

    All UV rays bounce off reflective surfaces like cement, sand, walls and other reflective surfaces to intensify exposure. If there is sunlight, there are UV rays – be protected.

    Learn more about sun protecting your skin in my free eBook guide to sunburns and the damage they cause.

    Everything You Need to Know About Sunburns

    Everything You Need to Know About Sunburns

     

    Download your free dermatologist's sun protection eBook today!

    In my free eBook on sunburns and sun protection you will learn about

    1. The damage sunburn does to your skin
    2. The 4 steps to halt and reverse the appearance of sun damaged skin
    3. The 2 types of tans
    4. The truth behind the 'base tanning' myth
    5. How to maintain a golden glow without tanning

    I've created the information and resources you need for the best sun protection because I want you informed and prepared to take good care of your skin while enjoying life on our sunny planet.