7 Summer Skin Secrets from the Dermatologist

You know that stepping out sans sunscreen is a big no-no, but how do the rest of your SPF smarts stack up? UAB’s Marian Northington, MD, shares her top sun-safe skin tips, from her favorite SPF to how often you should reapply. Dr. Northington is a dermatologic surgeon and assistant professor of dermatology at UAB.





  1. Buy Broad Spectrum. When choosing a sunscreen for the warm months ahead, choose a broad spectrum sunscreen, which protects the skin from both ultraviolet A rays and ultraviolet B rays. Ultraviolet B rays are responsible for sunburns and skin cancers, and ultraviolet A rays are associated more with photoaging (wrinkles) and melanoma. I prefer zinc oxide and titanium dioxide sunscreens.
  2. Be Wary of Windows. UVA rays penetrate window glass, so it is important to wear SPF or cover up while in the car or sitting by sunny windows.
  3. Know the Danger Hours. As a general rule, sunscreen needs to be worn unless it’s dark enough that a flashlight is needed. The most intense rays occur between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., but it is still necessary to wear at least SPF 30 anytime one is outside.
  4. Cloudy Doesn’t Mean All Clear. Clouds filter visible rays, but not ultraviolet rays, so it is important to wear SPF and practice sun avoidance behaviors even on cloudy days.
  5. Slather Often and Liberally. Sunscreen should be applied very liberally—at least a shot glass size (about one ounce) for the whole body—at least 30 minutes before going outdoors. Sunscreen should be reapplied every few hours and especially after swimming or excessive perspiration.
  6. Rely on Reinforcements. The best way to protect the skin is to avoid exposure to rays between 10 and 4, seek shade, and wear a hat and protective clothing. Remember, even under umbrellas on the beach, both sand and water reflect rays, and you will still get some UV exposure, although not as much.
  7. Get a Check-Up. Regular visits to your dermatologist are an essential part of keeping your skin as healthy as possible. To make an appointment with a dermatologist at UAB, call (205) 934-9999 or make an appointment online.

Source: UAB

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