5 UV Protection Facts for Everyone Who Loves the Outdoors

I love being outside as much as possible. What can I do to keep my skin young and still be outdoors?

You’re really smart to connect the two because much of what we think of as “normal aging” is really just sun/UV damage. Part of the problem is that most people think “sun” as compared to “light”. And consequently, don’t think of sunscreen when it’s cloudy, or rainy etc.

Love the outdoors… you need to know this!

  1. UV light causes damage to the DNA of skin cells. It’s like a cup that you are filling over your lifetime. First it spills over into wrinkles, uneven skin color and texture, and then eventually into skin cancers.
  2. UV light is present all day long even when the sun isn’t out and through windows (UVA).
  3. UVA and UVB both cause damage. UVA is a longer ray so it tends to cause damage deeper…like collagen and elastic fibers. UVB is a shorter ray so it tends to damage the outer layer (epidermis) more and cause blotchiness and skin cancers.
  4. Zinc oxide is the only common sunscreen ingredient available that blocks both UVB and UVA most effectively. Look for 10-20%.
  5. Clothing and hats work! Going for a walk? Sunscreen and a hat make a big difference over time.

Tricky sunscreen labels

It seems like the manufacturers make this as tough as possible. The easiest thing is to just turn over the tube or bottle and look at the Active Ingredients. You want zinc oxide 10-20%. The drugstore zinc works, but are often “chalky”. For better quality ones that absorb and don’t look chalky, try Madison MD Everyday Clear UV Protection SPF 45.

Hope this helps,

Brandith Irwin, MD

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