How To Protect Your Skin From The Sun

Here in Memphis and the Mid-South, the summer months seem to stretch from May until September – and sometimes even longer! Between BBQs, pool parties, and family vacations, it’s hard to stay out of the sun’s rays when they’re at their strongest. And even if you could, who really wants to be stuck indoors half the year? Dermatology Realm wants you to enjoy yourself this summer, but that means protecting your skin. Prevention is key when it comes to avoiding damage, so let’s take a look at why protecting your skin from the sun is so important, how to do it successfully, and how we can help minimize any sun damage you might already have. Keep reading to learn more!

How UVA and UVB pack a punch

Ultraviolet (UV) light exists in the form of both long-wave UVA and short-wave UVB rays that penetrate the atmosphere first before zeroing in on your delicate skin. Once upon a time, researchers thought only UVB rays were responsible for skin damage, but we now know that UVA exposure can also damage the DNA in your skin cells. Together, these rays can injure your skin and change the DNA in the cells, leading to sunburns, wrinkles, and even skin cancer. Not only that, but your eyes and immune system can suffer from sun damage in the form of cataracts and a weakened ability to fight off infections and illnesses.

Sunscreen isn’t just for summer

Memphis gets over 200 days of sunshine every year, making skin protection a must! But even on gray and cloudy days, you can burn. That’s because white and gray act as a reflector for UVA and UVB rays. No matter what the weather is on any given day, or how light or dark your natural skin tone is, you should make it a habit to wear sunscreen during the day whenever you’re outside, near a window, or driving.


Learn how to layer

Cool mornings and sweltering afternoons are a thing around here during fall (and sometimes winter!) so you’re probably already familiar with the concept of wearing layers for comfort throughout the day, whatever the weather. You can apply this to sun protection, too. Wearing lightweight layers such as long-sleeved shirts or bathing suit cover-ups help to shield you from the sun’s damaging rays. Wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses are helpful accessories, and seek shade from umbrellas or trees whenever you have to be outside for long periods of time.

Layering works for sunscreen application, as well. Your daily routine should ideally include:

Layer 1

Use a moisturizer that has a sunscreen of at least SPF 30.

Layer 2

Add a sunscreen that is at least SPF 30.

Layer 3

This layer is optional, but if you wear makeup, try to use foundation and powder that are SPF 30, too. Alternatively, you could use a tinted sunscreen or brush-on sunscreen to replace your regular makeup.

Layer 4

Any portion of your body that will be exposed to the sun should be covered with a 30-50 SPF sunscreen before heading outdoors, including your arms, legs, chest, feet, etc. If you think you’ll be outside for a while, it’s a good idea to wear sunscreen under your clothes as well. Some clothing even has sun protection woven right into the fabric!

Don’t forget to keep your sunscreen close at hand all day. You’ll need to reapply it every two hours, after swimming, or if you’ve been sweating profusely. We recommend:

Blue Lizard

This sunscreen is good for everyone from babies to adults. It’s especially good for anyone with sensitive skin as it’s free of any parabens, chemicals, and fragrance. Blue Lizard is also rich in the physical blockers that give wearers the most protection. The active formulation is water-resistant, and will stay in place even if you get sweaty out in the sun. Water-resistant claims are regulated by the FDA, so you can rely on this label if you’re swimming or participating in anything active outdoors.


The Obagi line of sun protection contains a dual-function moisturizer, a sunscreen that uses an exclusive blend of skin-identical ceramides to help improve the appearance of the early signs of aging, and a sunscreen that combines UVB absorption and UVA protection in an elegant matte finish that is non-comedogenic, allergy tested, and dermatologist tested. This is one of the only products we’ve found which allows you to easily apply makeup after application of the sunscreen–just one of the many reasons we love Obagi!

We carry select products from both Blue Lizard and Obagi in our Germantown office.

Timing really is everything

While it’s not always possible, one of the best ways to keep your skin safe is to avoid the sun whenever possible from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Within this window, UV rays are the most potent and have the most potential to damage your skin.

We also encourage you to perform a thorough self-screening every month, looking over each area of your body, including between your fingers and toes. Scheduling an annual skin-cancer screening with your personal physician is also an important part of preventative skin care.

But if you’re already dealing with sun damage…

Even if you’re taking extra steps now to protect your skin, you may not have always been so vigilant. Here at Dermatology Realm, we offer a variety of services to treat discoloration and damage caused by sun exposure. These include:

The XC DayPeel

The XC DayPeel uses an innovative new technology to remove sun damage and fine lines with minimal downtime. It combines elements of our non-surgical facelift as well as our MicroLaserPeel procedures. This is an excellent option for patients who desire skin tightening, but would also like to remove sun spots and the fine lines associated with normal aging. The XC DayPeel is performed in our office during a regularly scheduled appointment. There is no pain during or after the treatment, and most people are able to return to work the next day (with makeup, if preferred.) Some patients may experience minor redness for a week or so after the procedure.


Microdermabrasion can help patients achieve cellular renewal, resulting in a glowing and radiant complexion. In just one hour, our diamond abrasion technique will deeply exfoliate and remove layers of dead skin to reveal the soft, supple, and healthy skin beneath it. Microdermabrasion can also be used to treat sun-damaged skin, discoloration due to the sun, blackheads and whiteheads, fine lines, and acne prone skin.


Our photofacial utilizes the Sciton BBL to even out skin tone by reducing sun damage, vascular lesions, and hyperpigmentation.


Keep your skin safe this summer

You don’t have to hole up inside your house when it’s hot outside to keep your skin protected from the sun! With some common sense, a little knowledge, and a lot of TLC, you can enjoy the pool, the beach, and anywhere in between without damaging your skin in the process. If you want to minimize the appearance of existing sun damage, we invite you to schedule a FREE cosmetic consultation with Dermatology Realm to find out what your treatment options are. We’ll help you get that summer glow you desire!