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.
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 it naturally has.
The good news is that practical, effective, comfortable and fashionable sun protection is now easy because of advances in sunscreen and 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?
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 the new high-tech tights, instead of exposing your skin to the sun.
Look for clothing rated as UPF 50, and cover as much of your skin as you can. I trust the brand Coolibar the most, which has advanced sun protection fiber technology that lasts 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 to wash into your favorite garments. This will create sun protective clothing out of what is in your closet.
These products are my favorite ‘go to’ products for sun protective clothing for outdoor activities. I have them in many colors and buy them for my entire family.
Did You Know That a Simple Tee Shirt Has an SPF of 5?
That’s Not Good Enough for Your Skin!
– 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.
I teach people to “A.S.K” themselves: Will my exposed skin be protected? Sun protection is as easy as this simple word:
APPLY THE RIGHT SUNSCREEN: 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 others also neutralize 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.
Click here to see my sunscreen product comparison chart.
I’ve also 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 products to choose from.
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. All uncovered skin needs protection. Reapply your sunscreen every 2 hours during intense sun exposure, always after swimming, sweating or rubbing product off your skin.
SEEK THE SHADE: 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.
Choose your hat for protection. Not all hats protect your skin. Be sure that you wear a hat with a full 3 or more inch brim made of sunblocking material to shade your face and neck. Don’t rely on ball caps or visors to shade your skin fully. I have a collection of attractive, and affordable hats so that you can use them hard and often, but still feel fashionable.
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 about your protection when the sun is most intense. Try to avoid direct sun exposure at those times when UVB intensity is the highest such as 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. From sun up to sun down, UVA rays are everywhere and your skin still requires protection. UVA rays come through most glass too. Don’t be fooled by the seemingly ‘softer’ morning and late afternoon light – stay protected.
UV rays also 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.