Healio interviews

Disclosures: Mullans reports no relevant financial disclosures.
May 28, 2021
2 min read

Q&A: Sunscreen needed to protect skin from dangerous UV rays


Healio interviews

Disclosures: Mullans reports no relevant financial disclosures.
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Sun exposure can cause deadly skin cancers, and as summer heats up and more people begin to take advantage of the outdoors, it is important to highlight the dangers of harmful UV rays.

Healio spoke with Elizabeth Mullans, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and founder of Uptown Dermatology in Houston, about how to best protect skin from sun damage and why it is important.

Sunscreens can protect the skin from dangerous UVA and UVB rays.

Healio: Who needs sunscreen, and when should it be used?

Elizabeth Mullans

Mullans: Sunblock is important for our skin, and you should never skip sunscreen, even while mask wearing. If concerned about using heavy sunscreen on the face, try using a light moisturizer with hyaluronic acid before mask use to protect the skin’s barrier and follow up with sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher before heading outside. You should wear SPF indoors if you are sitting near windows or in front of a computer screen, as you are exposing yourself to potentially skin-damaging light. It is easy to believe that once we are indoors that we are protected from the sun. Not all glass is created equally. It is still important to apply daily SPF 30 or higher because harmful UVA rays can penetrate windows.

Healio: What are the different types of UV rays, and how do they affect the skin?

Mullans: Ultraviolet A (UVA) is associated with skin aging, while ultraviolet B (UVB) is associated with skin burning.

Healio: What type of sunscreen is the best to use?

Mullans: Look for something that is nongreasy and good for all skin types and protects from both UVA and UVB rays of the sun. For oily skin, mainly in younger people, they cannot take too much product on their skin without breaking out so everything in skin care and makeup should be oil-free. A great tinted moisturizer with an SPF 30 is Neutrogena radiant tinted moisturizer. Cetaphil’s daily facial moisturizer SPF 35 is affordable and the best type of sunscreen for combination skin. There are also different degrees of heaviness; something lighter, such as a serum, would be for your face, while a lotion cream or oil would be for the body.

Healio: What are other ways to protect the skin from sun damage?

Mullans: In my clinic lately, I am seeing skin peeling on patients from not wearing SPF on their tattoos. Not using sunscreen causes tattoos to fade when they are exposed to sunlight. I recommend using a sunscreen of at least SPF 30, such as Mad Rabbit Defend, specifically designed for tattoos.

Healio: How and when should clinicians advise their dermatology patients in regard to sun protection?

Mullans: Sunblock in your makeup may not be strong enough for your skin type. It may only be SPF 15 in your makeup, and if you have fair skin, you will need a higher SPF like a 40 and 50. I also recommend taking a supplement such as Vitafusion Gorgeous Hair, Skin and Nails gummies that include vitamin E and are easy to take.

The skin can become irritated from using too many irritating agents or too many products that are not compatible. This ends up disrupting and breaking down the protective barrier of the skin from the outside in. Sometimes it can be from mechanical irritation, exfoliating the skin with harsh scrubs that abrade the skin from the outside in. I recommend my patients who have sensitive skin or suffer with irritation to always use fragrance-free sensitive skin detergents to protect their skin, such as Arm & Hammer Sensitive Skin detergent. Sometimes the problem starts as inflammation, and people try to calm it down with the wrong products that then actually irritate the skin from the outside in.