Ultraviolet (UV) rays cause sunburn, early aging and skin cancer—and not just in the summer. It’s important to protect your skin every season and on every day, even when it’s cloudy or hazy.
Follow these steps to keep your skin healthy:
Find a Shady Spot
- Remember that sunlight bounces off some surfaces, including sand, water and snow. That means UV rays can reach you even under an umbrella or a tree.
- Stay in the shade as much as you can.
- Try to avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. This is when UV rays are the strongest.
Use Sunscreen Whenever You’re Outside
- Choose a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
- Look for a sunscreen with zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, parsol 1789 (avobenzone) or mexoryl sx.
- Read the label to make sure it blocks both UVA and UVB rays. Both cause cancer, while UVA causes early aging and UVB causes sunburn.
Consider One of These Sunscreens
This list includes SPF 30 or higher sunscreens we recommend, but other good ones are available. Ask your dermatologist for other suggestions.
- Blue Lizard
- Blue Lizard Baby
- Blue Lizard Sensitive Skin
- Clinique Super City Block
- Coppertone Spectra 3
- Coppertone Sport
- Cotz/Total Block
- La Roche-Posay Anthelios 40
- Neutrogena Age Shield with Helioplex
- Neutrogena Body Mist with Helioplex (either Fresh Cooling or Ultra Sheer)
- Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry Touch with Helioplex
- Neutrogena Sensitive Skin
- Ombrelle Lotion/Spray
- Sea and Ski Dry Foam
- Solbar Gel
- Solbar Shield
- Vanicream Sensitive Skin
Apply Sunscreen Early and Often
- If you’ll be outside less than 15 minutes, it’s okay to use a moisturizer with an SPF of 15 or 30 as your sun protection.
- Make sure you use enough—the average adult in a bathing suit should use about two tablespoons full.
- Pay attention to areas that are easy to miss, such as your ears, around your eyes, lips, neck and the backs of your hands and feet.
- Put more sunscreen on every two hours. If you swim, sweat or dry yourself with a towel, reapply more often.
- Put your sunscreen on 30 minutes before you go outside.
- Remember to use sunscreen even on cloudy days—UV rays penetrate clouds.
- Consider using clothes specifically made to block the sun’s rays. These provide the best protection. Some companies that make sun-protective clothing are Sun Precautions, LL Bean, Magellan, Athletica and Coolibar.
- Wear a hat with a wide brim—about three to four inches—to shade your ears and neck. Baseball caps leave these areas unprotected.
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants. Clothes that are dark and tightly woven are best.
- Wear sunglasses that block UV rays. The ones with large frames are best because they protect more of the delicate skin around your eyes. These sunglasses can also help lower your risk of getting cataracts (clouding of the lens of your eye) later in life.
There is no such thing as a healthy tan. Instead, tanned skin is evidence of skin damage.
- If you want to look tanned, use a self-tanning product. These products are safe and can give you a tan that looks natural.
- Stay away from tanning parlors. The UV rays there are much stronger than those from the sun. These rays increase your risk of getting skin cancer.
Use sunscreen and other sun-safety techniques with your kids throughout summer and winter. Start early to teach them how to be safe in the sun.
If you have any questions about staying safe in the sun, call Lahey Dermatology at 781.744.5115 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
*The content on this website is for informational purposes only and is not medical advice. Please consult a physician regarding your specific medical condition, diagnosis and/or treatment.