Tips for Staying Safe in the Sun!

February 19, 2020
By: Dr. Darlene Gou

Dr. Darlene Gou at Innovative Dermatology offers tips and advice for staying sun-safe!

Here in Plano, Texas, it feels like the rain and cold are never going to end, but in just a few weeks spring and more sunshine will be here! I spend a LOT of time outdoors with my family, and I love helping my loved ones and patients practice sun safety.

These are some common topics I enjoy discussing in-clinic regarding sunscreen and sun protection.

I only wear sunscreen when I’m “going to be outside”. 

Protecting yourself from UV radiation is the best way to protect yourself from skin cancer. In addition, sun exposure is the biggest cause of visible aging, including wrinkles, fine lines, and discoloration. Making sunscreen use a daily habit is the best way to reduce your risk of skin cancer and premature aging.

Do I need sunscreen on cloudy days? 

Yes! Clouds only block a fraction of cancer-causing and pro-aging UV rays, so you still need SPF 30 or greater on all exposed areas, especially your face, neck, chest, and hands.

What about days when I just get into my car and drive to work? 

Most car windshields are made of laminated glass, meaning they are made of two pieces of glass separated by a thin sheet of vinyl. This front windshield does block almost all UV rays. However, the side and back windows are typically not laminated, meaning that you are still being exposed to UV radiation. 

Does SPF in my makeup or moisturizer count? 

This is probably better than using nothing at all, but studies have shown that the amount of sun protection from makeup or a moisturizer is far less than what a dedicated sunscreen gives you. We recommend using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30 or greater, then following with your usual makeup to ensure that you are protected.

How much sunscreen do I need to use? 

More than you think! For the average adult, a full shot glass worth of sunscreen is needed to cover the entire body. Don’t forget to reapply every 1-2 hours, especially after swimming, sweating, or toweling off. 

I don’t like the way sunscreen feels.

You just have to find one that you like! We’ve come a long way from the thick pasty sunscreens of the past. There are many newer formulations with micronized zinc oxide and titanium dioxide that feel much more elegant. Sunscreens with tint or iron oxide are also helpful if others tend to leave a white cast. 
We are also fortunate to live in a time when there is an abundance of sun-protective products available! Look for sun-protective clothing with UPF 50 or greater on the label. Coolibar, REI, and Columbia are brands with great options. There is also a product called Sun Guard, which you add to your laundry cycle and adds UPF 30 to all of your clothes for 20 washes. Finally, don’t forget lip balm with SPF 30 or greater, a broad-brimmed hat, and sunglasses.
Enjoy your time outdoors!