Just because it’s not summer doesn’t mean you’re safe from sun-related skin damage.
“The highest level of concern is usually during the summer months, but sun damage can occur year-round, even on cloudy or rainy days,” said dermatologist Dr. Sarah Taylor, an assistant professor at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C.
“In fact, many people don’t realize that you also get sun exposure through windows at the office, at home or in cars,” she said in a hospital news release.
That’s why “dermatologists recommend that everyone wear broad-spectrum sunscreen every day, all year,” Taylor said.
To best protect your skin from the sun, she suggests:
- Using broad-spectrum, physical blocker sunscreens with zinc oxide or titanium oxide. They should have a sunscreen protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher.
- Using liquid or powder sunscreen, not sprays.
- You should overapply sunscreen to all areas of exposed skin. This includes the sides of your face, ears, front and back of your neck, hands and arms.
New powder sunscreens make it easy to reapply during the day, according to Taylor. If your office or workplace has a lot of sunlight, try to reapply every two hours.
Many people believe that using more than one product that contains sunscreen — like moisturizers and makeup — doubles the protection. But that’s not the case, she said. In fact, some sunscreen ingredients can deactivate others.
Some research has suggested that certain supplements can help decrease the effects of ultraviolet radiation on the skin. These include polypodium leucotomos, which is derived from a Central and South American fern and has been studied in Europe. Taylor said that a daily dose of 240 milligrams as an oral supplement is considered safe.
Another, the B vitamin niacinamide, is considered safe at doses of 500 milligrams twice a day, she added.
“People may also want to use prescription retinoids to treat the signs of photoaging,” Taylor said.
However, she cautioned that any woman who’s pregnant or trying to get pregnant should talk with her doctor before using any topical sunscreen, retinoid or nutritional supplement.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on sun safety.