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May 29, 2019Sunscreen and Sun Protection

I’m Wearing Sunscreen, So Why Am I Still Getting Burned (or Tan)?

Hi Guys!

A lot of you have mentioned that you like to have the video transcript accessible, so here it is!

I decided to name today’s video: “I’m Wearing Sunscreen, So Why Am I Still Getting Burned?” Or, for some people, “Why Am I Still Getting Tan?”  Sound familiar?  I hear it all the time in my practice, and I’m actually going to go ahead and take that one step further—I’m going to call someone out with this video. The title was inspired by my sister, Dore, who has said this exact thing to me so many times: “I was wearing sunscreen the whole time! Whit, seriously, I have no idea why I’m still burned and freckled!”

In my office, I hear: “But Dr. Bowe, I wore sunscreen the whole time! I have no idea how I got so dark!”

My sister is telling the truth. My patients are telling the truth. They packed sunscreen. They applied sunscreen. So, here’s the answer to this mystery – sunscreen is not enough to fully protect your skin from sun damage. Let this information sink in – it takes hearing it a few times before you might be ready to accept it.

Sunscreen is ONE piece of the puzzle but standing alone, sunscreen just isn’t enough. If you really want to protect your skin from damaging rays that can not only cause skin cancer but can also lead to signs of aging over time —yes, including brown spots, wrinkles, crepey texture and loose skin, you’ve got to think outside the sunscreen box, my friends (and, my family)!

So what are those secret ingredients in the special sauce to stay looking young and to stay skin cancer free?

#1: Sun Protective Clothing: This is a must-have for me, my daughter and my husband. You will never see me near a pool or beach without a UPF 50+ piece of swimwear on my body. My usual go-to is a long sleeved rashguard that covers that delicate skin on my chest and upper arms— those are the areas I treat every day in my office using lasers and other expensive procedures to try to undo the damage my patients have done over the years on their own skin, by relying only on sunscreen. Your chest is especially prone to becoming paper thin, and marked with brown spots and creases. Sunscreen alone just ain’t gonna cut it for that area, so I’m usually covering it up with fabric I can trust to filter out UVA and UVB rays. I partnered with one of my favorite UPF swimwear brands, Cabana Life, to bring you a collection I think you will absolutely love – we included swimsuits, rashguards, even pants, and mommy and me options to keep your little ones sunsafe.

#2: A supplement that protects your skin from the inside out. The one I recommend to my patients is Heliocare. It’s been proven in numerous clinical studies to boost the effect of your sunscreen, providing you with further protection against the sun’s rays. I recommend 1 Heliocare supplement every morning, but doubling up on those days you plan to spend time outdoors.  And if you’ve had extensive sun damage- we’re talking burns as a kid or visits to the tanning salon—then consider the new version, Heliocare Advanced, which also contains the B vitamin, nicotinamide. I have links for more information on these supplements right on my website.

#3: Effective shade. Seek shade especially during the hours when the sun is at its peak.  When we’re on vacation or spending a day at the beach, my family makes sure to take a nice long lunch break in the shade. No matter how powerful your sunscreen may be, it’s no match for mid-day sun. And not all shade is created equal– studies show that your typical umbrella at the beach does not provide the protection you think it does!  In studies where people were positioned under the shade of their beach umbrellas, the ones who didn’t wear sunscreen got burned- and they burned badly!  If you feel warmth on your skin even if you’re in the shade, that shade is probably not effective! Regroup and go somewhere you do not feel warmth on your skin.

#4: A hat. Why spend hundreds of dollars on expensive creams and serums for your face if you don’t take the simple step of covering your facial skin with shade by wearing a sun protective hat? Prevent that damage from being done in the first place! Yes, I wear sunscreen on my face and yes, I reapply it every 2 hours if I’m outdoors, but a hat is just as important as sunscreen. Look for one with a wide rim that goes all the way around, and ideally look for one made with UPF 50+ fabric.  Check out the hat I chose to be part of my collection with Cabana Life- it’s really cute and very easy to travel with.

There are so many changes happening right now in the world of sun protection. I’m keeping you guys on the pulse of all of it with videos, blog posts, and on my social media.  I’m here to be a resource for you to help keep your skin healthy this summer, while you also have fun and enjoy the beautiful summer months! So, I’ll see you soon with even more information and healthy summer skin in 2019!

Dr. Whitney