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Sunshine and Safety: Your Guide to Happy, Healthy Summer Skin

By: Emily Perez, DO (Eta Alpha-Texas A&M) 

We all love soaking up the sun, but here’s the deal: protecting our skin is the key to enjoying sunny days safely and keeping our skin happy and healthy for years to come.  

Dr. Emily Perez (Eta Alpha-Texas A&M/College Station) is passionate about community health and sun safety. She wants to share her expertise to help you avoid the harmful effects of sun exposure. 

Want to know the best anti-aging product you can invest in? Drumroll, please … sunscreen!  

This time of year, we love being outside and enjoying the pool or the beach with our Kaydee sisters. Today, we bring you a few tips to do that with a bit of caution to keep yourself healthy and fabulous in the long run! 

Protecting your skin is an investment in your health for years to come. Sun exposure accelerates skin aging, causing wrinkles and dark spots. It depletes collagen, reducing skin elasticity and thickness, making it more prone to tears and bruises as we age.  

Sun damage can also be a silent enemy, showing up in many harmful ways, and skin cancer is the most serious consequence of overexposure to UV rays. Did you know that one kind of skin cancer — basal cell carcinoma (BCC) — affects 1 in 5 Americans? Both BCC and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) are highly treatable when caught early, yet they can still leave unwanted scars. Malignant melanoma, on the other hand, can spread to other parts of the body and often requires extensive surgeries and chemotherapy. Alarmingly, most skin cancers are the result of sun exposure before age 18, underscoring the importance of protecting young skin.  

When it comes to sun protection, the best method is the one you’ll stick with. After all, sunshine might be tough on the skin but it’s great for the soul. So, let’s talk practical solutions: sun-protective clothing, sunscreen, sunglasses and taking breaks in the shade.  

  • Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) clothing is a game-changer in shielding your skin from UVA and UVB rays. You can find UPF swimwear, shirts, pants, hats, gloves and more. Personally, I keep UPF gloves in my car year-round to protect my hands while driving under the Arizona sun.  
  • UV-blocking sunglasses are another must-have, protecting your eyes and helping you avoid squinting, which leads to wrinkles around the eyes.  
  • Wide-brim hats offer superior coverage compared to baseball caps, shielding your ears, neck and more of your face.

We’re fortunate to live in a time with so many sunscreen options, although this can make choosing one feel overwhelming. Remember, the best sunscreen is the one you’ll use!  

Sunscreens fall into two main categories: physical and chemical.  

Gone are the days of thick, white pastes—modern mineral sunscreens blend smoothly into the skin, and many come in tinted options to match different skin tones. 

For daily protection, I recommend at least SPF 30, but for prolonged sun exposure, go for SPF 50 or higher. Remember, significant sun exposure can occur through car windows, during short outdoor walks, and even on cloudy days, so daily use is essential for everyone. 

Here are some of the sunscreens I recommend:

Take control of your skin’s health and embrace sun protection as a daily ritual. Your future self will thank you! 

About the author: 

Emily Perez, DO 

Dr. Perez is an alumna of the Eta Alpha Chapter of Kappa Delta at Texas A&M University where she served as Vice PresidentMember Education. She recently graduated from the Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine. During her time in medical school, she co-founded the local chapter of Sun Protection Outreach by Students and was involved in community outreach through running a sun safety booth with Special Olympics Arizona at events throughout the state. She will remain in the Phoenix area for her family medicine residency.