I don’t know about you, but I LOVE being outside!  Ok…so maybe I don’t backpack anymore or think sleeping without an air mattress is fun, but it’s so beautiful out in nature.  Walkers, hikers and runners can really log some miles outside over the years.

It helps to change your thinking on this. Think light, not sun.  All natural light contains both UVA and UVB.  UVB is thought of as the “burning” ray and UVA most people don’t think about at all.  But if you consider that UVA is present all year around, and goes through clouds, and window glass …you start to see the problem.  UVA peaks at the summer solstice which is now, and is weakest at the winter solstice. It also penetrates deeper into the skin destroying more collagen and elastic fibers in your skin.

One problem with current sunscreens (unless they have zinc oxide) is that they don’t block UVA very well. There was even an argument a few years back that some sunscreens caused skin cancer (not true).  Their reasoning was that since people weren’t burning, so they were staying out so much longer, and getting more cumulative damage from all that UVA.  There’s a slightly demented logic in that.

Tips for limiting blotchiness, wrinkles and skin cancers

  • Find a sunscreen you love. You may need to try several.  This is key. Human nature is that we won’t use what we don’t like. I keep a separate less expensive one containing zinc (clear) for my body and then sometimes supplement that with the powder sunscreen (hi zinc) over that.  I use a high zinc clear (meaning not tinted) on my face, neck, chest and hands that’s better quality and more expensive and a high zinc tinted on my face.  If you sweat a lot, use the waterproof, sweat proof ones
  • Clothing works! The trick is to find the companies like Coolibar or REI who have the clothing that’s light weight and breathable enough to walk, hike, run in.  You may have to try a few that don’t work before you get it right.
  • It’s hard when running, but with walking and hiking a brimmed hat is doable. With running, if the sun is straight on your left cheek for example, just turn the brim temporarily to block it.
  • Go early in the morning and later in the afternoon, so you’re out of the direct sun midday.
  • Get a yearly skin check to make sure you don’t have small skin cancers starting.

Have fun, and stay safe!!

Hope this helps,

Dr. Brandith

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