Keep Away the Rays

Tallahassee Plastic Surgery Clinic provides tips for spring and summer sun safety
Mature Woman Applying Sunscreen On Face
Photo by Getty Images/Ridofranz

If you live in or visit Florida, there’s no avoiding the sun. It is nicknamed the Sunshine State for a reason. Where the sun brings light and joy, it can also be highly damaging to one of your most prized possessions — your skin.

Knowing this doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the sun, but it does mean when you venture outdoors, you do so in a way that protects your skin. This begins with educating yourself and then seeking out the best sun-care products.

Sue Anne Pearce, license esthetician with Tallahassee Plastic Surgery Clinic, said that sun protection and sunscreen use should begin as early as 6 months old and continue throughout your life.

“The decisions we make when younger will impact our skin later in life,” said Pearce. “A child who doesn’t use sunscreen and gets a burn that blisters has damaged deep layers of the skin, which can show up in their 30s, 40s or later in life.”

The science of a burn includes the breaking down of once healthy cells to cells that have become melanized and begin multiplying. Pearce compares the sun’s penetrating rays on your skin to sitting inside a microwave.

Damage caused by sun exposure and sunburns can include wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, age spots, a leathery appearance, freckles, moles, keratosis, and in some cases, skin cancer.

To avoid these outcomes, start first and foremost with a quality sunscreen. Seek a UVA/UVB zinc oxide or titanium dioxide sunscreen. Mysty Bilbrey, licensed esthetician with Tallahassee Plastic Surgery clinic, suggests at least SPF 30 for weekday use and SPF 50 or higher for time spent outdoors.

Both estheticians recommend the ultra-sheer, tinted Skinceuticals Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF 50 for total protection. Another favorite, especially for marathon runners or those participating in rigorous outdoor activities, is the Skinceuticals Sport UV Defense sunscreen because it is sweat proof and waterproof.

With any sunscreen, you should apply it 30 minutes before venturing outdoors and reapply every 90 minutes to two hours for ample protection. Consider applying more frequently when engaged in water activities.

On top of your sunscreen, you can make a fashion and health statement by sporting sun protective clothing. Pearce encourages people to select the protective wear that best suits the activity whether that be swimsuits, long sleeves, shorts, visors, hats, gloves or sunglasses.

“Sun protective clothing companies have really listened to the needs of consumers and have stepped up their game both in style and in level of protection against UVA and UVB rays,” said Pearce.

Where you can, it’s best to avoid the sun during peak hours. We’ve long been told this is between 10 to 2, but Bilbrey says the hours have been extended from 10 to 4. Seek shade, even if under the wide brim of a sun protective umbrella.

If you do happen to experience too much sun, Skinceuticals Soothing Cleanser does as its name suggests, soothes and calms. Follow with C-Ferulic antioxidant serum, which neutralizes free radical damage caused by daily exposure to UV rays and pollution. Lastly, the Phyto-Corrective mask or gel combines botanicals, cucumber and hyaluronic acid to cool and comfort any sensitivity.

While Tallahassee Plastic Surgery Clinic’s No. 1 goal is prevention, there are some options for corrective procedures and reversals once the damage has been done. These treatments include microneedling, chemical peels, laser treatments, pico genesis and more.

“Besides wearing sunscreen, one of the best things you can do for your skin is getting it checked at least once a year by a dermatologist,” said Bilbrey. “As a society, we are moving in the right direction with sun safety education and doing more to protect our skin.”

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