Sun Protection Basics

Considering that sun damage is the primary environmental factor in skin aging and skin cancer, we highly recommend that you thoroughly research the topic of UV protection, starting with reading all articles in this section.

In this article, we provide the summary of basic guidelines and principles to help you jumpstart your sun protection strategy. You can start here, but don’t stop here – learn more to optimize your sun protection.

The very basics

Plan outdoor activities early or late in the day to avoid peak sunlight hours between 10 am and 4 pm.

Avoid tanning beds.

Wear a broad-brimmed hat and sunglasses.

Sit in the shade whenever possible.

Wear protective, tightly-woven clothing.

Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a SPF of at least 15 on all exposed skin, including the lips, even on cloudy days.

Use a water-resistant sunscreen if exposed to water, either through swimming or sweating.

Apply sunscreen 20-30 min prior to exposure and reapply frequently. (See our article on correct sunscreen application.)

Note: Please keep in mind that children tend to spend more time in the sun and need extra protection. See AAD recommendations on protecting kids from the sun. 

Basics plus

In addition to the basic AAD recommendations, many experts consider a number of steps worthwhile, especially for people who wish to minimize skin aging:

Chose a comprehensive UVA+UVB blocking sunscreen with well-matched UV blocking agents and low risk of adverse reactions. If you have sun-sensitive skin, use SPF 30 or higher for UVB and similarly strong UVA protection (see our article on choosing the right sunscreen.)

Use extra caution near water, snow and sand as they reflect the damaging rays of the sun, which can increase your chance of sunburn and skin damage.

Do not neglect UV protection when indoors or driving. (See our article on indoor UV protection).

Ensure vitamin D status safely through a healthy diet that includes vitamin supplements. Don’t seek the sun. (See our article on how to minimize the downside of low sun sxposure)

Make sure your sunglasses protect from both UVA and UVB and, ideally, cover as much of your face as possible.

Consume diet (and possibly supplements) rich in nutrients that may reduce the severity of UV damage (e.g. lycopene, green tea, etc.).