Today is national “Don’t Fry Day” and if you are looking more George Hamilton than Kate Winslet - well, then, this is for you!
Here are 5 tips for avoiding sun overexposure from Dr. Ilya Reyter, a Hollywood dermatologist who has lots of famous patients that he can’t mention by name, of course!
1) For sensitive skin - use a baby sunscreen! Many sunscreens formulated for infants and small children avoid chemicals that can irritate the skin. They also tend to block more of the harmful ultraviolet rays. Adult sunscreens are often formulated to make them easy to rub in, so they include chemicals that get absorbed into skin and can counterintuitively react with sunlight to produce skin irritation in people with sensitive skin. Good baby sunscreens, on the other hand, usually use zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, which sit on top of the skin and work like tiny mirrors, scattering and reflecting the sunlight. Neutrogena Pure & Free Baby Sunblock Lotion is inexpensive, easy to find at almost any store and does a wonderful job protecting the skin from the sun and from unnecessary irritation.
2) Don’t be fooled by the SPF number. Some brands are now claiming SPFs in the triple digits. What is the difference in protection between an SPF 30 sunscreen and SPF 100? Not much. Both block almost the same percentage of the sun’s rays and despite the claims, almost all sunscreen tend to break down from sun exposure after several hours, so you still need to reapply it frequently, regardless of SPF number. I tell my patients not to choose sunscreen based on SPF, which can be misleading. As long as it’s SPF 30, it will do the trick. Instead, I tell them to read the ingredients and make sure that the sunscreen protects against both ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B rays. Ingredients such as avobenzone (Parsol 1789), oxybenzone, ecamsule (found in Mexoryl) and titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are all good, broad spectrum ultraviolet ray blockers.
3) Apply enough sunscreen. Recently, scientists studied how much sunscreen people actually use and it turns out that people apply only 25-50% of the recommended amount of sunscreen. To get the maximum amount of benefit, make sure to use a liberal amount of sunscreen. A rough guide is about a shot glass full of sunscreen to cover the sun exposed parts of the body.
4) Avoid too much sun, even if wearing sunscreen. What is the link between use of sunscreen and skin cancer prevention? Good question, because there is no conclusive evidence to show that sunscreen use reduces the risk of skin cancer. Sunscreens don’t block all of the sun’s harmful rays, but they do protect a person from getting sunburned. So, even though you aren’t turning red and blistering, your skin may still be accumulating sun damage, giving you a false sense of security. In addition, I also advise patients to cover their skin with clothing when spending prolonged periods of time outdoors.
5) Don’t forget to protect your eyes. With all the attention being focused on the skin, some people forget that sun damage affects the eyes as well. Ultraviolet light damage to the eye can lead to blurred vision and even cancer. To minimize risks of eye damage, wear sunglasses with ultraviolet protection whenever you are outdoors. Sun damage is cumulative, so get in the habit of putting on sunglasses every time you are in the sun. Make sure the lenses block close to 100% of ultraviolet rays.