Used to be, a white stripe of zinc oxide down the nose was about as stylish as skin protection got. It didn’t cover much, and as a look it really only worked on surfers, lifeguards and little kids.

Fortunately for the rest of us, these days there are better ways to protect our skin in style. For tips, Cincy contacted Dr. Tiffany Pickup, a dermatologist with Dermatology Specialists of Greater Cincinnati; Dr. Allison Holzapfel, a facial plastic surgeon; and Rebecca Long, a licensed medical aesthetician at Etage Laser & Skincare Center, in affiliation with Mangat-Kuy-Holzapfel Plastic Surgery Centers. These pros named five ways to keep looking cool while heating up:

 

  1. Sun-protective clothing

    “One of the biggest things that has changed is the amount of clothing available compared to 10 years ago,” says Dr. Pickup. Now, there are not only swim shirts for kids, there are whole lines of swim and sports clothes featuring fabric woven to include UV protection. Golf shorts, pants, long-sleeves or short, these clothes are made in breathable material that offers increased protection from the sun. Find them at major retailers or any number of online outfitters. They’re a far cry from the white T-shirt your mother had you put on—with protection equivalent to only about 4 to 6 SPF.

     

  2. Hats

    “Large hats that have a wide brim are an essential when spending hours in the sun,” Dr. Holzapfel says. “Not only will you feel cooler without the sun's rays on your face, but the wide brim protects the ears, neck and lower face that a traditional baseball cap or visor do not. 

    “Hats have become quite a statement and are not reserved for just the Derby anymore.”

    The wider-brimmed the better (look for three inches of brim), and they should be tightly woven to keep out the sun’s rays. To gauge how much light seeps in, especially if it’s a straw hat, hold it up to the light while still in the store.

    If hats still aren’t your thing, it may help to consider the alternative to sun protection ... and then at least give in to a visor or baseball cap.

    In her practice, Dr. Holzapfel sees patients of all ages with various stages of sun damage and facial aging.

    “The stages begin with just small amounts of freckling, progress to fine lines, larger coalescent spots and uneven pigmentation, to deep wrinkles throughout the face. The freckles usually begin on the nose and cheeks and then accumulate on the forehead and the upper lip. Lines begin in the crow's feet due to squinting in the sun, and then progress throughout the face due to loss of collagen and elastin secondary to sun damage and aging.”

     

  3. Shades

    Embrace today’s fashionable trend of extra large sunglasses for eye coverage and sun defense, but be sure they include sun-filtering properties like broad UV protection (100 percent UV protection, ideally). This may mean bypassing the discount bin, but you still “don’t have to spend $300 on a pair of sunglasses,” Dr. Pickup notes.

     

  4. Tinted sunscreen

    Start with the widely recommended SPF 30 level, reapply every two hours when in the sun, and then consider the add-ons, like a tint.

    “Many of these products have become very sophisticated and now include antioxidants like Vitamins C and E that can add an extra layer of protection,” Dr. Holzapfel says. “Tinted sunscreens can mean fewer layers of product and a nice glow to the skin as well.”

     

  5.  Sunscreen, period

It seems the importance of sunscreen can’t be overstated, or over-repeated.

“I tell all of our patients that sunscreen is the most important anti-aging, skin protecting product on the market, and for good reason! It protects your skin from damaging UV rays that lead to photo aging and worse, skin cancer. A broad spectrum UVA/UVB SPF 30 applied correctly will give you 97 percent cell protection,” Long says.

Dermatologists will tell you we’re collecting sun damage all the time, as the sun’s UV rays can penetrate clouds and car windows, so they recommend wearing it daily on regularly exposed skin like the face, neck, ears and chest.

“I take tons of skin cancers off hands and forearms,” as well as melanomas on women’s legs, says Dr. Pickup.

It’s helpful to know that some sunscreens are physical blockers, like zinc oxide, that requires no chemical reaction with the skin to work, while others are chemical blockers that do.

Because chemical blockers require a chemical reaction in the skin to work, they should be applied 20 minutes or so before heading outdoors, Dr. Pickup says.

If someone is sensitive or allergic to chemical blocker sunscreens, they should stick to physical blockers.

She also cautioned against sunscreens labeled waterproof or sweatproof, claims the FDA will no longer allow. Now if a sunscreen is deemed water-resistant, it must spell out whether it’s protective for 40 or 80 minutes of swimming or sweating.