Practicing Summer Sun Safety

August is a busy month, but it’s also the perfect time to take advantage of some fun in the sun before fall arrives. From a little time at the beach to lounging by the pool, hiking in the great outdoors or working in your yard—you probably have big plans to make the most of the remaining days of summer!

August is also Summer Sun Safety Month, so whatever you have planned, it’s important to protect your skin. Dr. Karyn Haitz recently offered a few skin safety tips, from planning ahead to how to pick the best sunscreen and more!

  1. Protecting your skin takes a little preparation. If you’re going to be spending extended time in the sun, especially from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. when UV rays are the strongest, it’s important to protect your skin from damage. “Sun protective clothing, sunscreen and shade-seeking behavior are some simple ways for people to protect their skin from the sun,” Dr. Haitz said. That may mean wearing clothing that keeps your skin covered, such as long sleeves, pants and wide-brimmed hats or clothing made from UPF fabric, utilizing sunscreen and taking a break under a beach umbrella or shady place periodically.
  2. Select your sunscreen carefully. “The best sunscreens are physical blockers, which are also called mineral sunscreens,” Dr. Haitz said. “Their active ingredients are zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, which are two natural minerals that are more effective in blocking the sun.” Dr. Haitz recommends at least SPF 30, but ideally SPF 50. “A higher SPF has a higher sun protection factor, which is better at blocking the sun,” she said. “But you get diminishing returns of sun protection as the SPF increases, particularly beyond SPF 50.”
  3. Sunburns are serious business. In the short-term, overexposure to sun can lead to redness and pain—which Dr. Haitz says aloe vera jelly can help relieve and products like Vaseline or Aquaphor can help soothe. But overexposure to the sun can also have long-term consequences. “Overexposure to the sun can lead to skin cancers, such as basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma, as well as pre-skin cancers,” Dr. Haitz said. “It can also trigger certain autoimmune diseases and suppress the immune system.” In addition, chronic sun exposure can lead to premature aging of the skin, such as wrinkles, loss of skin elasticity, dark and light spots, blotchiness and rough or leathery skin texture.
  4. There’s no such thing as a “safe” tan. Holding on to that golden glow as summer fades into fall may sound appealing, but any tan caused by exposure to UV radiation—whether from the sun or a tanning bed—is harmful to the skin. If you prefer a tan, self-tanning products may be the way to go. “Self-tanning products and sunless tanning lotions are safe to use because they don’t cause DNA damage. Just be careful not to inhale these products,” Dr. Haitz said.
  5. Wear sunscreen every day. “One misconception is, ‘I don’t need to put on sunscreen because I am inside all day,’” Dr. Haitz said. That may be true, but you will also likely get in your car or sit by a window, which means you will be exposed to UVA rays. “While UVB rays primarily cause sunburns, exposure to UVA or UVB rays can lead to the formation or skin cancers or premature aging,” Dr. Haitz said. Newer products, such as sunscreen brushes or tinted sunscreens, make it easier for you to reapply sun protection during the day or make it a part of your daily life, Dr. Haitz said.

Dr. Karyn Haitz, M.D., is a board-certified dermatologist who specializes in medical, surgical and cosmetic dermatology. She is part of the dermatology team at Pacific Dermatology Specialists. Dr. Haitz sees patients at three California locations: Seal Beach, Los Alamitos and Long Beach. Born and raised in Long Beach, she enjoys hiking, yoga and spending time with her daughter, family and friends.

Request an Appointment