Skip to main content

Style Magazine

Protect Your Skin: Stay Safe Under the Summer Sun - Advice From Local Specialists

1) Summer is coming, and it’s time to consider how to protect yourself from skin cancer. Minimizing sun exposure during peak UV hours (10 a.m.-3 p.m.) and wearing a sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher are critical to reducing exposure to cancer-causing sunlight. Sunscreens labeled “Broad Spectrum” help protect against both UVA and UVB light, and physical sunscreens, such as zinc oxide, provide excellent protection without chemicals or potential skin allergies. Since we have been sheltering at home since the onset of COVID-19, sunscreen sales worldwide have seen a significant decline. Given such, our skin may be particularly vulnerable to sunburns. So as society opens up again, it is really important to be especially careful by wearing sunscreen, a hat, and sun-protective clothing.
 If you do get a sunburn, cool showers and frequent moisturization can help with the burning sensation and healing process. Also, drink extra water, because sunburnt skin can lead to dehydration. If blisters form, do not break them open as they will heal naturally.
 After weeks of sheltering indoors, we are all ready to get out and enjoy the outdoors. Let’s do it safely!
— David No, MD, PhD
Dermatology Center of Northern California

2) Prevention, prevention, prevention. Stay in covered shade whenever possible, use a sunscreen with a minimum 50 SPF, and stay hydrated.
It’s important to understand the differences between the sun’s three types of UV rays. UVA travels deeper into the skin. It is the main cause of tanning, skin aging, and a small amount of sunburn. UVB, which is stronger than UVA, stays more superficial in the skin and is the main cause of sunburn. It plays a key role in the development of skin cancer. UVC is very strong, and our ozone layer currently blocks this.
And remember that SPF is a relative measure of how long a sunscreen should protect you from the sun. Not everyone will get the same protection from the same sunscreen. This amount of protection varies, and is based on your skin type and how quickly you burn. For example, let’s say your skin turns red in two minutes while you are unprotected and out in the sun. This means an SPF of 30 should protect you 30 times longer than two minutes. Therefore, 2 x 30 = 60 minutes, or one hour of protection. In the same scenario, a person who is unprotected and turns red in 10 minutes while unprotected and out in the sun, would obtain 300 minutes, or five hours of protection from the same 30 SPF sunscreen.
While you’re enjoying your most favorite summer beverage, don’t forget to eat your fruits and veggies! Believe it or not, a diet high in fruits and veggies will also help with burn prevention, as it provides your skin with lots of antioxidants to fight off those harmful rays.
If you get a sunburn, cut open an aloe vera leaf and remove the sticky gel inside for topical use. Start cultivating that green thumb and keep an aloe vera plant on hand—you never know when it might come in handy for sunburn relief.
— Karla Alberts, ND
Revolutions Naturopathic,

3) Carry sun protection with you so you will always be prepared. Have sunscreen in your purse or book bag or keep a hat in your car. 
Sunscreen is active on your skin for about 80 to 90 minutes and then its efficacy goes down dramatically. Look for an SPF of 30 or higher.
Apply sunscreen before putting on clothing to avoid any “missing spots” around sleeves, straps, or flip flops.
If you get a sunburn, stay in a cool room and drink plenty of water to rehydrate from the inside out.  Cooling aloe gel can make the areas feel better. Aspirin or ibuprofen will help with inflammation and pain. Never pick or pull at peeling skin or blisters.
— Kate Gant, MD
West Oak Dermatology

4) The main reason sun protection is so important is for skin cancer prevention, but also to prevent sunburns and delay/reduce signs of skin aging.
Some tips to protect your skin from the sun’s damaging ultraviolet (UV) rays and reduce your risk of skin cancer and sunburn:
  • Seek shade when the sun’s rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
  • Wear protective clothing as much as possible such as lightweight long-sleeved shirts, pants, wide-brimmed hats, and sunglasses. This is especially important in babies and children.
  • Use a broad spectrum (provides protection from both UVA and UVB), water resistant sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30. SPF number indicates how well the sunscreen protects you from the sun, and less than SPF 30 does not provide adequate protection. Water resistance does not mean waterproof or sweatproof.  Most adults need about an ounce of sunscreen to cover their entire body (about the size of  a shot glass). Spray sunscreens should still be rubbed in and spread out evenly.
  • Sunscreen needs to be used whenever you are going to be outdoors, even on rainy/cloudy days.
  • When outside, all sunscreens need to be re-applied every two hours (no matter the number of SPF) or immediately after sweating or swimming.
  • Use extra caution near sand or water as these surfaces reflect the damaging sun rays and increase the chance of sunburn.
  • “Who’s got your back?” Try and enlist a buddy to help you apply sunscreen on hard-to-reach areas so you do not miss any parts of your skin.

If you get a sunburn, begin treating it as soon as you notice it. First, get out of the sun.
Once indoors:
  • Take frequent cool baths or showers to help relieve the pain.
  • Then, apply a moisturizer (in an ointment that contains aloe vera or soy to help soothe the skin. Use plain petroleum jelly if you have sensitive skin).
  • If you are very uncomfortable from the sunburn, you can apply an over-the-counter hydrocortisone ointment. Avoid using products with “-caine”  (such as lidocaine), as these may irritate the skin or cause an allergic reaction.
  • May take aspirin or ibuprofen to help reduce any swelling, redness, and discomfort.
  • Drink extra water to help prevent dehydration.

If your skin blisters, it means you have second-degree burns. Allow the blisters to heal and do not pop them, as intact blisters help prevent infection on your skin and also help your skin heal. Take extra care to protect sunburned skin while it heals by wearing sun protective clothing or clothing with tightly woven fabrics. 
Remember, sunburns are not temporary and can cause long-lasting damage to the skin and increase your risk for getting skin cancer.
— Anna Juern, MD
Dignity Health Mercy Medical Group,


Beat the Heat Summer Must-Haves

Elta MD UV Daily Broad-Spectrum SPF 40 $28.50,  
Dermatology Center of Northern California,
192 Blue Ravine Road, Suite 100, Folsom, 916-983-3373,

BCBG Maz Azria Carefree Sunglasses $109,  
Dr. Shawn McDonald Optometrist,
2802 Mallard Lane, Placerville, 530-626-8440,

Blowfish Granola Rope Women's Sandals $40,  
Lees’ Boutique,
4110 Datsun Court, Shingle Springs, 530-677-4891,

Oakley Fuel Cell Sunglasses $179  
Dr. Shawn McDonald Optometrist,
2802 Mallard Lane, Placerville, 530-626-8440,

Hydrating Moisture Cream $40  
The Tiger’s Eye Skin Care,
8016 Folsom-Auburn Road, Folsom, 916-988-4973,

Outdoor Research Mojave Sun Hat $49  
REI, 2425 Iron Point Road, Folsom, 916-817-8944;
1148 Galleria Boulevard, Roseville, 916-724-6750,