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Going out in the sun? Slather on the SPF

By Melissa New

With the official first day of summer right around the corner, the days will grow longer, and the temperature will keep rising. People will be out and about at the beach, lying by the pool, boating and hosting backyard barbecues. Along with these fun activities comes the threat of sun damage. 

The three biggest concerns that arise from getting too much sun are skin cancer, premature aging and other skin damage, which includes hyperpigmentation — aka “dark spots’ or “sun spots.” We all want to age gracefully, and that starts with taking the time to protect yourself properly when exposed to the sun. 

Above all, we need to wear sunscreen every day — yes, even on cloudy days. While clouds may block some of the sun’s ultraviolet rays, they do not block them all. Remember to wear sunblock even if you work indoors. Sun can penetrate office windows and car windows. 


Start with SPF 30 for everyday use, The American Academy of Dermatology now recommends a minimum of SPF 30, which protects against 97 percent of the sun’s UVB rays. If you will be out in the sun for a prolonged period, use an SPF 50. No sunscreen can block 100 percent of the sun’s rays, according to the AAD, and there’s actually no evidence that SPFs higher than 50 provide better protection. 

Look for the term “broad spectrum,” which ensures you have UVA and UVB protection, and remember to reapply every couple of hours when you are out for long periods. On top of slathering on the SPF, wearing protective clothing, such as a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses, is helpful in blocking the sun’s damaging rays. 

Don’t forget to apply sunscreen to your ears, neck, and chest. 

Lastly, if you are not sure about which sunscreen is right for you and provides the best protection, consult with a professional who can evaluate your skin and provide a personalized recommendation. 

Remember, the sun may feel great and give you that perfect, glowing tan, but it carries risks beyond the occasional sunburn. Stay protected, and you will thank yourself later. 

Melissa New is an independent, licensed esthetician and owner of New Skin Care, based in Gulfport at Doctors Care. Reach her at (501) 328-7984. 

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