Sun Safety

Expert tips for protecting skin and planet.

By Jennifer Kennedy, RN, & DR. Paul Jarrod Frank

Let’s face it: You can’t properly participate in a pro-aging lifestyle if you don’t have the basics down. The No. 1 precursor to premature aging is excessive sun exposure, often caused by avoidance of sunscreen or improper use of sunscreen. With an abundance of bad information out there and TikTokers all of a sudden becoming skin care experts, it’s time for the Pro-Aging K.I.S.S (keep it simple, stupid) Rules for Sun Safety.

Should you use chemical or mineral-based sunscreens? They are both very safe and effective, but only if you use them! If you have sensitive skin, acne-prone skin, a personal or familial history of skin cancer, or you’re a lifeguard exposed to copious amounts of sun, you’re better off with the reflective mineral-based sunscreens. However, you don’t have to be too worried about the toxic effect of chemical sunscreens unless you are bathing in them 24/7. Any downsides of using chemical sunscreens are not as bad as the toxicity of radiation damage from the sun and skin cancer.

Does the SPF number matter? All you really need is an SPF of 30. It covers about 97 percent of all the UVA and UVB rays. Choosing a broad-spectrum sunscreen is important; however, going above SPF 30 is not only cosmetically inelegant, but it gets really expensive. If you apply an SPF 100 at 9AM and think you’re covered for the day, you are wrong. Even SPF 100 is only effective for 2 to 2.5 hours, and it tends to leave a white film on the skin. Pasty does not equal safety! You’re better off applying an SPF 30 every 2 hours (90 minutes if active), particularly during peak sun times of 10AM-4PM. Everyone swears they wear sunscreen, but the key to avoiding sun damage lies in the reapplication.

It is crucial to apply your sunscreen 20 to 30 minutes before going outside or in the water. A first application of sunscreen while at the beach, right before jumping into the water, offers little to no protection. You have to let it absorb into the skin in order to gain protection. If you are consistent in applying and reapplying, then the SPF number doesn’t matter. You need about a shot glass amount (1.5 ounces) for your entire body, every time you apply sunscreen.

Don’t believe the hype: There is no such thing as a waterproof sunscreen, and if you plan on being in the water for more than 20 minutes, it’s time to reapply.

At the end of the day, the best sunscreen out there is the one you’re going to use, and reuse. If you are truly avoidant of using any chemicals on the skin—remember, there is always shade, a wide-brimmed hat and protective clothing. Enjoy your summer.