Sun Protection Checklist: Saving Your Skin Beyond Sunscreen

Sun Protection Checklist: Saving Your Skin Beyond Sunscreen

I’ll say this every day until I die: The sun never goes away, people! It’s always there, even when it’s cloudy. Sun protection isn’t a summer-exclusive topic, but I always like to (lovingly) harp on it as soon as it starts getting warm because that’s when everyone starts spending a lot of time outdoors.

You all know by now that wearing sunscreen should be an everyday occurrence, but there are other ways to minimize the risk of sunburns and sun damage! So today I’m going to switch things up a little and tell you about a few other tips to add to your sun protection checklist.


1. Dial Back the Actives

You might have a good routine established that includes plenty of actives. I’m not saying that you should stop using actives completely (you can pry my adapalene out of my cold, dead hands), but I am saying that you should be more careful about how and when you use them.

Actives like retinol, retinoids, hydroquinone, and AHAs are all photosensitizing, which means they make your skin more sensitive to UV rays. If you’re diligent with sunscreen and sun protection overall, this isn’t a dealbreaker on your sun protection checklist. However, if you like to spend a lot of time outdoors, or you’re not the best at remembering to reapply sunscreen every few hours, then you might want to dial back the use of these products.

One other thing to remember is that, even if you shelve your photosensitizing actives for a while, it still takes at least a day or two for the extra photosensitivity to diminish.


2. Add More Antioxidants

Antioxidants (both oral and topical) are not a replacement for regular sunscreen application, but they can help to make your other sun protection measures more effective.

Antioxidants are a great sun protection booster because they work to neutralize the damaging free radicals that come along with sun exposure. They’re like the Robin to your sunscreen Batman.

The most popular topical antioxidant is, of course, vitamin C. To get the most out of your vitamin C serum, look for one that also contains vitamin E and ferulic acid. (The Skinceuticals C E Ferulic is a good example of this!)

While most actives are best used at night, antioxidant serums are better when used during your morning routine. Apply your vitamin C and any other antioxidant products before your SPF.

There are plenty of cases where less is more, especially in the beauty realm, but this is not one of those cases. When it comes to antioxidants, more is more! There are so many great ones that it’s completely fine to mix, match, and experiment with different products for both your AM and PM routines.


3. Wear a Hat (or Invest in a Parasol!)

Personally, I’m all for bringing back the parasol. There are tons of options for cute, affordable, and compact UPF umbrellas that are easy to keep in your car or toss in your bag. I love how easy it is to protect my head, shoulders, and back without worrying about the fuss of reapplying sunscreen.

sun protection checklist

If a sun umbrella isn’t your style, grab a hat instead. Hats are not only great for shielding your face (and possibly your shoulders, if you go for a wide-brimmed style), but they can protect your scalp from sunburn (because seriously, who puts sunscreen in their hair?), and they can also keep hair color from fading as quickly.


4. Get Creative With Your Sun Protection

I’ve always avoided the sun like it was my job, mostly because I will burn if I even think too hard about being outside. However, it wasn’t until recently that I realized just how many different ways there are to protect yourself from the sun without becoming a total hermit.

Brands like Coolibar make entire lines of everyday clothing that have built-in UPF50 protection, and there are many options for things like UPF driving gloves, lap blankets, and bandanas to offer targeted sun protection for activities like driving, watching a sporting event, or sitting on the beach.

sun protection checklist
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If you enjoy having natural light in your home, but you’re worried about UV rays, you can purchase static cling window vinyl that blocks UV rays (and helps regulate house temperatures) without the total opacity of curtains. The films are affordable and pretty easy to install, and you can even get them in pretty stained-glass patterns!

You can also get adhesive window clings or small window shades for your car that will help to block out UV rays and keep your car cooler during the summer months.


A Quick Warning: Skip the Sunscreen Supplements

You may have seen supplements like Heliocare, Solaricare, and Sunsafe Rx that claim to be able to keep you from getting sunburned as quickly, reduce the amount of sun damage you get, and help you “build a UV tolerance.”

sunscreen supplement

Unlike antioxidants, which can offer research-backed benefits, these so-called sunscreen pills are best left on the shelves. (Read my breakdown of sunscreen supplements here.) Dermatologists, medical experts, and even the FDA agree that the claims on these supplements are misleading and overblown. There are small amounts of lab-only research that show that these formulas might offer some extra protection from UV damage, but they can’t provide the kind of benefit that they want you to believe.

Skip the Heliocare and grab a hat instead. It’ll be way more useful, trust me.


Have a Safe and Sunny Summer

While I don’t really love spending a lot of time outdoors, I know lots of people do. I would never tell you to stop doing what you love in the name of avoiding the sun! Instead, just make sure to be diligent with your sun protection measures so that you stay safe and healthy this summer.

Do you have anything else on your sun protection checklist for this summer?


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