Sun Protection at the Beach

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Wolffer dry rose

Enjoying a dry Rose cider poolside from local East Hampton Wolffer Winery

Last weekend one of my colleagues invited a few of us to her family home in East Hampton, and we enjoyed tons of good beach and pool time. How do dermatologists enjoy the sun, you may ask? With protection, lots of it. I’ve never seen anyone do the beach like my friend Sarah and her husband! They packed up their SUV with two HUGE foldable beach umbrellas, plenty of beach chairs, lots of water to stay hydrated, bottles of sunscreen, snacks, beach drinks, delicious sandwiches in a cooler, board games, and more. Sarah joked that her husband went out and bought a second large beach umbrella the weekend before because her dermatology colleagues were coming to visit! I was way way impressed.

beach selfie

Beach selfie time

For sun protection I used Neutrogena SPF 70 beach defense spray on sunscreen on my body and my go to favorite facial sunscreen lately, La Roche-Posay Anthelios 50 Mineral Tinted Ultra-Light Sunscreen Fluid. I typically wear SPF30 on my face, but when I’m going to be out in the sun for a long time I like to step up my game and wear higher SPF for maximum blockage of UV rays. I wore a big floppy hat, my new retro white Nordstrom sunnies (<$15 in the Nordstrom anniversary sale, also available in black and tortoise), and tried to stay under the umbrella for a majority of the time. But Sarah definitely one upped me on her sun protection game, and she wore a super cute rash guard / swim shirt from J Crew (below)!

To be honest I had never heard of a rash guard (clearly despite growing up in California I’m not familiar with surfing gear!). I had to google it! Apparently rash guards are tight fitting swim shirts used by surfers to protect their trunks from getting rashes from their surf boards. Now rash guards have made their way into mainstream culture to protect people from sunburns during long afternoons outdoors! In addition to providing excellent sun protection, rash guards also help people maintain their temperature more efficiently.

Rash guards come with a labeled Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF), which like SPF, is a rating system that measures the amount of UV protection provided by fabric. For example, just like sunscreen with SPF15 blocks out 93% of UV exposure, clothing with UPF of 50 allows just 1/50th of the sun’s rays from reaching your body (blocks 98% of UV rays). You can read about more information on UPF at the Skin Cancer Foundation article here. My friend Sarah has fair skin and red hair (meaning higher risk of sun damage) so by wearing her J Crew rash guard she kept herself protected from the sun while also looking stylish! I browsed the J Crew website and found that their rash guards come in all designs and colors, and they each boast UPF of 50 so you stay protected from the sun ALL day long. We all know that reapplying SPF every 2 hours is tough to do, especially if you’re out on the water, so having a rash guard on gets around that problem.

Here are some of the cute rash guards I found on the JCrew site:

I received a UPF 50 hat from Coolibar at the American Academy of Dermatology meeting last year (see the full backbreaking haul from the conference here), and I dug it out of my closet this week after returning from the Hamptons, inspired by Sarah to start using more UPF gear. I snapped a quick selfie of what it looks like:

Talk about a broad brim...

Talk about a broad brim…

My first impression is that it has a super broad brim that is also foldable so you can somewhat style it. By “style it” I mean bend the brim upwards slightly so I can actually see where I’m going and not walk into oncoming traffic. It comes in only one size (one size fits all usually doesn’t work for me) but it seems to stay on my head thus far. Will try wearing it during my walks to and from work and see if I can get some relief from the scorching sun during this heat wave that suddenly hit NYC this week.

Other products that I mentioned in this post:

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