11 Interesting Things You Didn’t Know About UV Safety

11 Interesting Things You Didn’t Know About UV Safety

It’s really hard to avoid sun exposure, because it’s everywhere! Whether you’re walking your dog, doing yard work, or are even just getting the mail, you’re being subject to UV radiation.

As luck would have it, June is UV Safety Month, so we’ve teamed up with Lindsey Grady, PA-C from Pinnacle Dermatology here in Decatur, IL.

Lindsey, originally from northwest Indiana, started in private practice in 2011 when she realized her passion for dermatology. She treats patients of all ages and conditions, and she has a special passion for senior citizens and veterans.

The summer months are upon us, which means protecting your skin from UV damage is more important than ever. Without further ado, here are 11 interesting things you may not have known about UV safety – #3 certainly shocked us!

1. There are actually two different types of sunscreens.

If you’ve ever looked at the ingredients list on the back of sunscreen bottles, you may have noticed that there are different kinds of active ingredients on the market.

The ones with crazy long names? Those are called chemical sunscreens. “Chemical sunscreens have ingredients that you can’t pronounce,” laughs Lindsey. “They allow UV rays to get into your skin, but they neutralize the free radicals.”

Essentially, the chemicals stop the UV radiation from damaging your skin. The drawback? Chemical sunscreens can be irritating.

The other kind of sunscreen is called physical sunscreen, and it physically blocks the UV rays from entering your skin. Lindsey explains, “It acts as a mirror by providing a reflective surface.”

Ingredients in physical sunscreens include zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. “Physical sunscreens are better for people with sensitive skin, because they’re less irritating,” she says.

The drawback of physical sunscreen is that is can leave a chalky, white look to the skin. However, Lindsey says that sunscreen companies are starting to tint those sunscreens a flesh like color to avoid the chalky appearance.

2. The sunscreen in your makeup is giving you a false sense of security.

If you wear makeup with SPF in it, it’s likely giving you a false sense of security about how safe you are from the sun.

Lindsey explains, “No matter where the source of SPF is coming from, we have to reapply every 2 hours.”

So, unless you want to re-do your makeup 10 times per day, the SPF in your foundation isn’t going to actually protect you for long.

One option, if you do need to wear makeup and you know you’ll be exposed to the sun, is to consider a makeup setting spray with sunscreen. However, you do need to apply a generous amount.

Lindsey says that you’re always looking for an SPF of 30+, and your skin should be wet or glistening after you spray it.

“That goes for sunscreen in general. Typically, with sprays, people don’t apply enough. If it doesn’t look wet or shiny, you probably haven’t applied enough,” she says.

3. The amount of sunscreen you need for your body is the size of a shot glass.

If you’re going to be out in the sun where most of your body is exposed, you need about a shot glass-sized amount of sunscreen to be adequately covered.

“Most people just don’t apply enough sunscreen,” says Lindsey.

If you’re worried that that amount of sunscreen is going to clog your pores, Lindsey suggests using a sunscreen labeled as “non-comedogenic” or "break-out free." That also won’t make current acne any worse.

“I recommend Neutrogena products ($7.99), which are all non-comedogenic," she says.

"For facial products and makeup, I like IT Cosmetics ($39), which you can purchase at Ulta,” Lindsey continues.

4. Homemade sunscreen with natural ingredients doesn’t provide much coverage.

“Making your own sunscreen with different types of oils like coconut oil will only provide you with an SPF of about 4, so it’s really not high enough to provide the protection you need,” explains Lindsey.

Lindsey says that she knows many people have concerns about chemicals in sunscreen, and if that might be you, she recommends a physical sunscreen blocker. The ingredients in physical sunscreens won’t get absorbed into your system.

In addition, physical blockers are more user-friendly and generally cause less irritation for those with sensitive skin.

5. Certain supplements can actually prevent the oxidizing effects of UV rays.

There are a couple supplements you can take that have been shown to help prevent the oxidizing effects that UV rays can have on your skin.

The first is called Heliocare ($26.99), which is a botanical extract from a fern. Lindsey explains that it has been shown to have some sun protective properties, but it should still be used in addition to sunscreen.

Another supplement is called Nicotinamide ($50), which also goes by the name Niacinamide ($10-$15), which can help prevent some of the damaging effects of the sun. This is a great option for those with existing skin damage or skin cancers.

Lindsey says, “With Nicotinamide, you want to take 500mg twice per day. It’s available at Whole Foods, and sometimes it’s even at CVS or Walmart.”

6. You can use a scalp powder to protect your scalp from burning.

If you thought the only way to protect your scalp and hairline from burning was spray or lotion, think again!

Lindsey recommends a scalp powder called Colorescience ($65) that you can purchase on Amazon. “It’s a brush-like applicator, and it’s a UV protective powder that goes into your hair. You don’t have to worry about your hair getting all gunky!” says Lindsey.

This is particularly great for women, because they don’t always wear hats as often as men.

7. Tanned skin won’t protect you from getting burnt.

“Tan skin provides an SPF of about 2,” says Lindsey. She explains that many people want to get a tan before a tropical vacation to shield their skin from being burnt. However, that philosophy is actually worse for your skin.

There’s no safe amount of sun exposure,” she says. “However, sun exposure is the reality of life. My advice is to keep inventory on your skin. Are things changing or growing? Are you starting to get spots or sores? If so, get them checked out by a dermatology provider.”

8. Skin cancer can show up even where the sun doesn’t shine.

“I’ve found melanomas in between people’s toes and the bottom of their feet – sometimes even on the buttocks!” Lindsey says.

While the most damage appears on the scalp, face, ears, neck, forearms, hands, chest, and back, most people don’t realize that the skin is an organ.

“Any time we’re getting UV damage, we can see skin cancer and precancerous lesions pop up on other areas where the sun doesn’t shine,” Lindsey explains.

9. UV protective clothing does actually provide SPF.

If you’ve seen clothing tags that claim to have UV protection and wondered if it was a marketing gimmick, think again!

A regular cotton t-shirt does provide some SPF, but it’s not as high as UV protective clothing in particular, which boasts an SPF of 30-50. “It depends on the material and how tightly woven it is,” explains Lindsey.

While this specialized clothing isn’t completely necessary, it certainly doesn’t hurt. A hat and protective clothing in general is always recommended, says Lindsey.

10. Self-tanners are the only safe tan.

If you do want to have tan skin, self-tanners are the only safe tan. Lindsey says that as far as research has shown, they are completely safe.

“It’s just the result of a sugar being deposited on the top surface of your skin that temporary dyes it,” she explains.

If you tried self-tanners a few years ago, you might’ve been repulsed by the smell and the orange hue. However, Lindsey says they’ve all gotten a lot better. She recommends Jergens ($10.79), Neutrogena (8.29), or – if you prefer a higher-end product that smells a little better – San Tropez ($44).

11. It’s never too late to start protecting your skin.

“I’ve had farmers come in and say they’ve been damaging their skin for the last 25 years, and why should they start trying to protect it now?” says Lindsey.

She says that the studies do show that even if you have a lot of sun damage, starting protective measures can help further damage from occurring.

“I can look at someone clinically and see how much sun damage they have. They may have dark spots, light spots, pink or red spots, or even little blood vessels that pop up where sun damage has occurred. A simple blacklight reveals sun damage,” she says.

In her Pinnacle Dermatology office, she has a blacklight she can use to reveal the extended of the damage. “They results are almost always pretty shocking, especially on people who don’t think they have a lot of sun damage,” she says.

Lindsey Grady under the blacklight, which immediately shows sun damage spots

Keep Your Skin Safe From UV Damage

There you have it – 11 things you may not have known about UV safety. The overarching point that Lindsey wants to make is that it’s not just one thing that’ll keep you safe from UV rays: “It’s the cumulative of everything working together that keeps your skin healthy.

Lindsey recommends sunscreen (chemical or physical), supplements like Heliocare and Nicotinamide, scalp powder, hats, and protective clothing.

If you need dermatology services or just want to see the state of your skin, you can book an appointment with Lindsey on the Decatur Pinnacle Dermatology website. Happy UV Safety month!

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