The Sun & Your Skin: Everything You Need to Know

Sunny days have arrived, which means people will be spending a lot more time outside. Though being outside in the sun can lift your spirits and shake off those winter blues, it is important to remember to take care of your skin, as it's easy to get caught up in the excitement of warmer, brighter days.

You probably already know that the sun has two types of rays, UVA and UVB, but there is a common misconception that only one of these is harmful to your skin. When thinking of UVB rays think 'B' for 'burn,' because these rays are the ones that burn the outermost layers of the skin. UVB rays hold a key role in developing skin cancer. When you get a sunburn and your skin starts peeling, it's because the UVB rays have severely damaged that superficial layer and your body is trying to get rid of the damaged cells! Though this is the damage you can see right away, UVB rays are not the only rays you need protection from.

UVA rays penetrate deep into your skin and can cause premature aging and wrinkles. Not only that, but they can suppress your immune system and initiate the development of skin cancer! So, even if you're the type of person who doesn't burn, your skin is still at risk. So, be sure to choose an SPF of 15 or higher and look for the words "broad spectrum." Broad spectrum sunscreens are made to block both UVB and UVA rays. If your sunscreen doesn't say that, it likely does not provide UVA protection.

So, with this knowledge available, why doesn't everyone wear sunscreen daily? Some people think they are stocking up on vitamin D after a long winter, as the sun can manufacture a small amount of vitamin D in the skin when its UVB rays interact with the skin's 7-DHC. However,  according to The Skin Cancer Foundation, Roy Geronemus, MD, clinical professor of dermatology at New York University Medical Center reported, "...we can produce only a limited amount of vitamin D from UVB. A few minutes at midday are sufficient for many Caucasians. After reaching the production limit, further exposure actually destroys the vitamin, decreasing vitamin D levels."

Limit your sun exposure and when you must be outside, apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen, spend some time cooling off in the shade, wear wide-brim hats to block the sun from the sensitive skin on your face, neck, and chest, and wear UV-Protection sunglasses, as your eyes are susceptible to sun damage, as well. Also, don't forget to stay hydrated being out in the heat, as your skin is 64% water. Be sure to use a hydrating cream or serum to restore moisture that could be stripped from the sun, swimming, or cranking up the A/C. 

If you already have been affected by the sun's damaging rays, we have options to help reverse its effects, like the Sciton BBL that renews your skin, treating brown spots, uneven texture, and firmness, and Botox and Dysport to reduce and eliminate wrinkles. And don't forget to get your vitamin D levels in check this summer; we can test your levels and provide you a supplement for your needs.

Dr. Hicks' Recommendations

  • For Sun Protection

    Obagi Sun Shield Matte Broad Spectrum SPF 50 – Its lightweight formula features broad spectrum solar protection and absorbs quickly for a non-greasy, matte finish. Vitamin C brightens the complexion while ubiquinone promotes firmness and neutralizes free radicals. Available at Ave.

  • For Skin Hydration

    SkinMedica Dermal Repair Cream – Ultra rich moisturizer helps prevent moisture loss and improves skin smoothness to restore your skin’s natural beauty. It contains high levels of antioxidant vitamins C and E, along with highly effective moisturizing ingredients like Sodium Hyaluronate, to provide hydration. Sodium Hyaluronate naturally occurs in the skin and has the ability to retain up to 40 times its weight in water on the surface of the skin. Available at Ave.