What Sunscreens Do Dermatologists Use Themselves?

Sunscreens Dermatologists use dr. cynthia Bailey

 I’m often asked by patients, friends, and family members what sunscreen I use. I want to share my answer with you and tell you a little bit about my “sunscreen story” to help you understand why I’m such a sun protection advocate.

The warm weather is here and sun protection is the single biggest step you can take to protect yourself and your family from skin cancer. Using a really good sunscreen when you are in the sun is one of the most important steps you can take to protect your skin from skin cancer and sun damage. But, how do you pick “really good sunscreens” for yourself and your family?

Knowing which sunscreens to use and using them has helped me to stave off skin cancer thus far – and I’m at a much higher than average risk. I’ve used sunscreen for more than 30 years, ever since I entered my dermatology residency training program. Before that I was a tanning addicted sun lover. When I was a teen and young adult, I had two worrisome skin tumors (called Spitz Nevi), which grew during my tanning addiction days. I also now know that I carry the BRCA mutation (for breast and ovarian cancer), which puts me at greater than average risk for melanoma skin cancer. Add to that the fact that non-BRCA mutation family members of mine also have a strong history of melanoma and I know that I’m very uniquely “blessed” with a high risk of melanoma. Believe me, I’m motivated to find the best sunscreens and keep the sun off my skin!

I’ve critically scrutinized evolving sunscreen scientific advances over the years for both personal and professional reasons. My patients depend on it and I know that my health depends on it too. I want to help you learn how to pick from the hundreds of sunscreen products with all the associated advertising hype, so that you and your family also use ONLY the best sunscreens – ones that I know really work.

My assessment is that the mineral zinc oxide products work the best and give the most trustworthy broad spectrum UV protection.  That’s why I personally use only zinc oxide sunscreens and they are exclusively what I recommend for my patients. In particular, I trust high-concentration pure zinc oxide products (over 17%) and products with the zinc oxide at a minimum of 5% combined with octinoxate. I’ve seen these products work over and over again; while I have seen others fail.

These 30 years of good sun protection have paid off in dividends for me and I want to help you reap the same benefits. In addition to helping protect against skin cancer, using a broad spectrum zinc oxide sunscreen every day will also help keep your skin looking healthy and attractive too. Honestly, my skin looks less sun damaged today, in my 55th year, than it did when I was in my 20’s – so no more skin tumors since I started diligently using daily sunscreen and a reversal of the signs of skin aging and sun damage – those are the potential benefits of using sunscreen and why I’m such a fan of zinc oxide in particular. More good news is that skin care product manufactures have worked hard in the past 30 years to make zinc oxide products elegant for you to use and invisible when rubbed onto your skin.

I’m a scientist and I observed how well the Citrix works as a sunscreen.” Anonymous

I was on vacation at the beach and put Citrix on my hands but a regular sunscreen with SPF 50 everywhere else. You can see where the Citrix ended because beyond that I’m tan and my age spots are darker. I didn’t get burned but I got brown. The Citrix works so much better.  Anonymous

Here are the sunscreen products that I rely on for my own very fair (Fitzpatrick type 2) skin

Sunscreens from Dermatologists Suntegrity 5 in 1 Natural Moisturizing Face SunscreenSuntegrity BB Cream 5 in 1 Tinted Pure (20%) Zinc Oxide SPF 30 Sunscreen. I wear this natural product on my face every day and I am constantly complimented on how nice my complexion looks – I know it’s partly the Suntegrity BB Cream.




Dermatologist recommended Citrix SunscreenCitrix SPF 40 Water-Resistant Sunscreen with 7% zinc oxide and 7.5% octinoxate. I wear Citrix every day on my ears, neck, chest, and back of my hands. Sometimes I wear it on my face instead of the Suntegrity BB Cream and until Suntegrity came on the scene a few years ago, I wore Citrix on my face every day. I’ve used it for more years than I can remember and I both love and trust this product. It is also my husband’s very favorite sunscreen.



raw elements lotion high performance natural sunscreenRaw Elements Eco Formula SPF 30 pure 23% zinc oxide sunscreen. I wear this tenacious high-performance sunscreen when I need a product that I can’t budge, rub, or easily wash off my skin. Those are times when I garden, swim, or hike. I apply this high-performance product to all the parts of my skin not covered by Coolibar Sun Protective Clothing. I, of course, wear a hat or swim cap too.



economical and dermatologist recommended Solbar Zinc sunscreenSolbar Zinc SPF 38 Water Resistant Sunscreenwith 7.5% zinc oxide and octinoxate and 10% homosalate. I’ve used Solbar Zinc for as long as I’ve used Citrix. My kids grew up wearing Solbar Zinc every day too. It spreads easily and rubs in invisibly. I’m more likely to use Solbar Zinc on my legs or arms because the product slides easily over larger areas of skin and it’s a very economical product of the highest quality.



sunscreen detecto rings to tell if UV rays are present?I also use my UV Detecto Ring to test my guesstimates of when I’m UV exposed. That little ring of UV sensing beads has colored up when I least expected it – and I’m a sun exposure geek! Take home message is that sunscreen goes on first thing in the morning before you start your day!



Want more info on how to pick the best sunscreen for yourself?

Click here to compare sunscreens products.

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6 Responses to “What Sunscreens Do Dermatologists Use Themselves?”

  1. Cura Pelle June 9, 2014 at 12:45 pm #

    The answer to that question depends on where the dermatologists live. Australian dermatologists probably use a lot less sunscreen than their American counterparts.

    Have you seen this?

  2. Cynthia Bailey, M.D. June 9, 2014 at 9:54 pm #

    Thanks for the link, that is a compelling article and dovetails with what I’ve said about Vitamin D and sun exposure in many of my posts – that it’s complicated and important, and to get your level measured from time to time so that you know what you should do for your skin relative to your sun exposure in your part of the world. That said, no matter what your skin color – yes no matter what your skin color – the sun will photo age your skin. People of every color care, more blanket statements just don’t honor that and I want to help give people the tools they need to feel good about their healthy and attractive skin.

    The sun most definitely causes irregular hyperpigmentation, skin atrophy and wrinkling. Most of us do not want that which is why broad spectrum sunscreen use and non-sunscreen sun protection is important for the areas of chronic sun exposure which include typically the face, neck, chest, hands, arms and sometimes the back and lower legs. These are the areas where I see the photodamage and skin cancers day after day in my practice.

    Regarding UVB and vitamin D, you will see that over the years I have recommended one use the impractical exposure of the belly if they want to turn their skin into their vitamin D factory. I also recommend giving this a good think first and taking supplements. The added benefit of using the belly skin is that if cancer forms there it is easy for a person to find because most people can see their belly (but not their back) and there is often plenty of loose belly skin to do a surgery on. A surgical scar on the belly will be less on display and it also is an easy area to heal and do post op care of. All very practical.

    So, I agree with the author that the topic is complex and blanket statements don’t do the topic justice. Thanks for the intriguing link, as always you comments are wonderful!

  3. Ivaylo June 11, 2014 at 10:55 am #

    Dear Dr. Bailey, you are such a great inspiration for med school students! :-) Thank you very much!

  4. Rachel June 12, 2014 at 9:42 pm #

    My skin only tolerates Elta MD UV Physical SPF41(9% Zinc oxide 7% Titanium dioxide). I am allergic to other sunscreens. Only this product works for me. What do you think about this product?

  5. jack June 17, 2014 at 2:50 am #

    Dr.Baily,thank you for your help on sunscreen.But still i don’t understand how i would choose my sunscreen?my skin is so much oily.can you please suggest me what type of sunscreen should i use?

  6. Cynthia Bailey, M.D. June 17, 2014 at 9:43 am #

    My favorite sunscreens for oily skin are the MDSolar Sciences and the Elta MD Clear. They can be found on my sunscreen pages where you can read more about why I like these products for oily complexions.