Sun Protection Means More Than Just Sunscreen


Bikinis, baby oil, and the beach - that's how I used to spend my summers before I met my dermatologist husband. Forget about sunscreen, I wouldn't even sit near an umbrella because nothing would stand in the way of me getting my perfect summer tan. Fortunately, Dr. Z reformed my ways early enough that I didn't do too much damage. My years of sunbathing were over, and I was introduced to a world of sunscreen and shade. My skin now thanks me, because the dark spots I am fighting off now would have been so much worse had I baked in the sun for another ten years. Being married to a dermatologist, I have learned that sun protection means more than just applying sunscreen. With just a few tweaks to your daily routine, you can easily be sun smart and prevent what otherwise could become permanent sun damage. So here's some easy to follow tips to keep your skin sun safe this summer.

1. Sun protective clothing has come a long way.

Rash guards are shirts designed to protect your skin from the sun by blocking UV light from touching the skin. The best ones are labeled with UPF, or ultraviolet protection factor, so you know they are reliable even in the water. My husband calls UPF clothing "the lazy person's sunscreen," because it does the same job as your sunscreen without having to rub it on. The styles have come a long way, and there are prints to fit every style. Plus you can find something that matches your budget from brands like like Cabana Life, J. Crew, and Athleta. (And the best part is that there are sales for the end of the season, so buying it now means you will have it at a deal for next year. Now the big question that is certainly on your mind is, "What good is a bikini if you never see it?" I say to wear the rash guard over the bikini during peak sun house of 10 AM to 4 PM, and show off the bikini later in the day.

2. Find the perfect hat

You will never find me outside during the day without a hat. Like a rash guard, the hat's brim creates shade and physically protects your skin from the sun. But not all hats are created equally. The brim must be wide enough to protect your chin and neck. I like a baseball cap as much as next girl, especially to cover a bad hair day, but it just won't protect your full face or the back of your neck. So look for a hat with at least a 4 inch brim all the way around. I love my Eric Javits and Janessa Leone hats, but you can find hats across all different budgets from ShopBop or Bloomingdales. Plus, the hat needs to have a tight weave. Loosely knit hats with a holes in them may look stylish but they are not functional. If you can see through the hat, then it is just not going to do a good job at protecting you from the sun.

3.  Don’t forget your eyes

We always think about the damage UV light has on our skin, but it has also been link to eye damage like cataracts, melanoma in the eyes, and even macular degeneration. So, sunglasses are a must every day.  When it comes to glasses, I say go big or go home. Larger lenses do a better job for the mere fact that they physically block more of your eyes and surrounding skin from the sun. Most glasses now offer ultraviolet light protection, and polarized lenses cut down on glare so you aren't squinting (a big no-no because squinting can lead to crow's feet wrinkles).

4. Create your own shade

The number one investment to make for the beach is an umbrella. Use it and readjust it as the sun moves during the day. However, sitting under an umbrella does not mean you don't need sunscreen. In fact, my derm husband says that studies have shown that you can still get a sunburn under an umbrella because UV light reflects off sand and water. So umbrella or not, sunscreen is still a must.

5. Stick to print instead of digital

In a digital world, where we are all seemingly attached to our devices, here's a reason to put down your phone. According to my husband, studies have shown that UV light reflects off your phone or tablet directly to your face and can increase your risk of sunburn. I guess nothing really beats an old fashioned print magazine after all?

So there you have it, 5 easy ways to help protect yourself from the sun besides your sunscreen, dermatologist recommended and DermWife® approved.