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Skin Protection Tips

Courtesy of the Department of Dermatology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

Being outdoors and enjoying outdoor activities is a natural part of our daily lives. While the sun makes us feel good, its UV rays can also make our skin age more quickly, cause damage to our skin cells, and lead to skin cancer. Here are some tips to better protect yourself and your family.

Clothing and Hats

  • Clothing and hats provide the best protection from the sun’s harmful UV rays and should be used whenever possible.
  • Choose tight-weave articles.
  • A 4-inch wide brim hat offers protection of the face, ears and neck.
  • Special sun protective clothing is available including: Coolibar® (1-800-926-6509), Solumbra® (1-800-882-7860), and Sun Solutions® (1-800-895-0010).

Types of Sun Protection: Look for UVA and UVB Protection

  • Sunblock: Sunblock has chemicals (zinc oxide, titanium dioxide) that shield you from UV rays. It naturally blocks UVA and UVB rays.
  • Sunscreen: Sunscreen has chemicals that absorb UV rays so it does not damage your skin. You need to look for ones that have both UVA and UVB protection.
  • SPF (Sun Protective Factor): SPF is the amount of protection from sunburns (UVB); For example, if it takes you 10 minutes to burn, with SPF 30 sunscreen on correctly, it will take you 300 minutes. This is NOT a measure of UVA protection.

Sunblock/Sunscreen Application

  • Apply 15 to 30 minutes before going outside to allow a protective barrier to form.
  • Reapply at least every two hours, especially after swimming, sweating or after you “towel-off.”
  • Don’t forget a lip balm with SPF 15-30.
  • Try a moisturizer with SPF 15-30 for year-round protection, especially to the face.
  • Apply even on cloudy days or around reflective surfaces such as snow, sand and water.

Peak Sun Avoidance

  • The sun rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Try to plan activities before or after these times.


  • Infant skin is the most susceptible to damage from UV rays. Provide physical barriers whenever possible with stroller shades, hats, and car window shades. Ask your pediatrician about vitamin D supplement options.

Tanning Beds

  • We strongly discourage tanning bed use. It may increase one's risk of developing melanoma.


  • Chemicals found in self-tanners dye the skin to create the appearance of a tan. They are NOT sunscreens.
  • Sun protection/sunscreen still need to be used.

Above content provided by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. For advice about your medical care, consult your doctor.

Posted June 2013

Contact Information

Department of Dermatology
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

330 Brookline Avenue
Boston, MA 02215

25 Boylston Street
Chestnut Hill, MA 02467

304 Chestnut Street
Needham, MA 02492