Sun Protection Tips: How to Protect Yourself from Sun Damage & Still Look Great

Some sunscreen a day keeps the wrinkles away.

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This post will show you the best sun protection tips to prevent sun damage and still look amazing this summer.

Sun protection tips: How to protect yourself from the sun and still look great
Photo by Mikhail Nilov from Pexels

Summer is finally here, and if it feels like we’ve gone years without summer, and that’s because we have. Two years, to be exact.

So, we can all agree this summer is long overdue — and I can’t decide what I’m most excited about. Going to the beach? Lunch with friends? Shopping in stores? Sunday brunch? Going to the movies? Or maybe it’s simply being outside in the sun. Cue Phineas and Ferb theme song: “There’s 104 days of summer vacation” and so much to do. 

And while we’re making up for lost time, the last thing we want to do is lose more time later in our lives. While sun protection is essential year-round, it’s never more more so than during the summer.

Thanks to longer days and stronger UV radiation, our skin is more susceptible to the harmful effects of sun rays. While wrinkles may be many people’s top of mind issue, don’t forget the very much so life threatening illnesses that can arise far before signs of aging can become a problem.

Below, I’m sharing some facts about sun exposure, plus our best sun protection tips to have a safe summer while still looking amazing. (Don’t worry, you can still look tan without harming yourself — scroll to the bottom for details.)

Sun Facts:

  • ANY visible tan on your skin that differs from your natural skin color is sun damage; the deeper the color, the worse the damage.
  • All skin colors are susceptible to skin cancer, not just fair skin.
  • Most skin cancer is caused by sun damage that occurred before the age of 20.
  • You can get melanoma on your scalp.
  • Melanoma is the most common form of cancer for young adults, and can often be deadly.
  • The sun doesn’t just damage your skin: it can cause numerous eye problems, such as cataracts and pteryguim.
  • 90% of fine lines, wrinkles, and brown spots on skin are caused by sun damage and could have been prevented.

Scary, right? And those are just a few of the facts. For more information on skin cancer, check out the American Academy of Dermatology and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – both are excellent resources that are worth reading.

Basic Sun Protection Tips:

So how do we protect our skin from sun damage and cancer?

Well ultimately, it comes down to your habits, so here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Reapply sunscreen every two hours: Sunscreen isn’t a one and done deal, it’s not the J&J vaccine. It’s not even like Pfizer and Moderna — if you want results, you’ll be having to reapply often throughout the day. Keep this in mind: getting red is not a sign that you’re going to tan after, it’s a sign that your skin has been damaged.
  • Get any sun exposure during weaker UV hours: While you may be looking for the strongest UV hours to really get that model tan, laying out in strong sun is super bad for you. Fake tan instead and limit your summer sun exposure as much as possible to the hours before 10 am or after 4 pm.
  • Always wear a hat and/or sunglasses: Your face, chest, and neck will show the most signs of aging, that’s because the skin on these areas is among the thinnest on our body. So protect it at all costs, especially the skin around your eyes. You can always use makeup to match the tan on the rest of your body, but no amount of makeup will be able to fix wrinkles and sun damage. Pro tip: sunscreen, hat and sunglasses, triple protection.
  • Never, never, NEVER!!!! go into a tanning bed. Really, just don’t. Despite what the salon owners may try to tell you, there is NO such thing as a safe tan!! According to the skin cancer foundation, worldwide, there are more skin cancer cases due to indoor tanning than there are lung cancer cases due to smoking. Stay away!!

Now, for some more detailed sun protection tips and strategies. Here are your summer essentials to look great this summer without sacrificing your health.

Face Sunscreen

I don’t think I need to reemphasize the importance of sunscreen every day no matter the season. But I will reemphasize the importance of wearing it constantly during the summer.

And with this tinted, dermatologist-approved sunscreen, you can skip the makeup. This product evens out your skin tone and looks completely natural and glowy, while providing excellent sun protection.

SPF Translucent Powder

Ilia powder sunblock

Reapplying sunscreen all the time can make the skin on your face look oily and if you have makeup on, that can get really messy.

My solution is to carry some Translucent Powder with SPF embedded into the formula.

My favorite is this ILIA powder because it’s also made with natural ingredients so it won’t harm your skin and will keep you shine-free.

Lip Sunscreen

Buy from Amazon.com

If you’ve ever felt like your lips get really red during the summer and exceptionally dry that’s probably because you aren’t drinking enough water. Oh, and because you aren’t protecting the skin on your lips from the sun.

So add a reusable water bottle to your Amazon Shopping cart, preferably one with a straw (ensures you drink often) and stock up on this amazing lip sunscreen.

Body Sunscreen

Buy from Amazon.com

Life hack: you can buy “tanning” oil with a high SPF that will help you look bronzed while keeping you extremely protected. It’s a great way to wean yourself off of tanning oil if that’s something you’ve used in the past — you’ll feel like you’re laying out, but you’re actually protecting your skin.

Also, this Australian Gold spray gives you an automatic shimmer that will look great while you’re chilling by the pool or hanging out at the beach.

Aloe Vera

Okay, so this isn’t a sun protection tip, but it’s a summer must-have. It’s important to moisturize your skin every day, even during the warm summer months.

And the best moisturizer if your skin is being exposed to the sun? Aloe Vera. It’s as natural as it gets and as hydrating as it gets. It also feels amazing on your skin!

Hair Protection

There’s nothing I hated more as a kid than my mom applying sunscreen on my hair, but now I can’t live without it. My hair always gets dry in the sun if I don’t protect it with this fantastic spray.

This sun protection tip is especially useful if you’re going lighter for the summer — your hair is already damaged, don’t let the sun add on to it. Also, it protects your scalp at your part.

Sunglasses

As we age, the skin around our eyes is the first to show damage. And while I hope all the wrinkles around your eyes show the joy in your life rather than your forehead showing the frowns in your life, it’s better to let those signs come on later in life.

So protect your eyes with sunglasses. Bonus points: they are the best summer accessory.

Hats

Regularly wearing a hat is one of those basic sun protection tips you should really add to your routine. You can never protect your face enough, and a hat provides an extra layer of protection that’s needed during the brightest hours of the day.

Hats are super in — even bucket hats have made it into mainstream fashion — so you have no excuse to not wear a hat. Plus they’ll immediately make you look like a fashion influencer.

Cover Ups

When you’re not in the water or doing some activity, throw on a cute cover up and take some Instagram-worthy pics with your friends. Every extra bit of sun protection helps.

Protecting your skin is crucial to avoid any unwanted illnesses and it’s another reason to go shopping. For your health, of course.

And if you still really want to be tan…

If you still feel the need to look bronzed in the summer, self tanners are amazing these days and can give you a natural tan with minimal effort. Here are two CF favorites for 2021:

Tanluxe The Gradual

This is the easiest and most convenient self tanner, period.

If you don’t have hours to spend applying traditional self tanner, waiting for it to dry, avoiding water for multiple hours, potentially turning your sheets orange, and planning your schedule around your fake tanning routine, this is the product for you.

TanLuxe The Gradual is a lotion you apply after your shower (or whenever you like), just like you would any body lotion. Just wait a minute or two for it to dry, wash your hands, and go. Your tan will develop over the day and it won’t turn your clothes orange like a regular self tanner would.

You can reapply the next day for a darker look. Minimal effort, great results.

Tanluxe The Face

Since you don’t want to use a product designed for body on your face, these self tanning drops will give your face all the color you want without breaking you out.

Just mix these drops with your moisturizer and apply all over your face and neck. A glow will appear in just a few hours. Reapply as needed from day to day to keep your face as bronzed as you want.

As a reminder, most dermatologists say no amount of natural tan is the healthiest amount. So, keep that as your guiding principle when trying to look tan.

And remember, if you want to avoid this problem altogether, get good at self-tanning or schedule yourself a spray tan. Just don’t Mississippi count. (Only the true Friends fans will get that joke.)

Have a great summer! Stay outside but stay protected.

What’s your best sun protection tip?

What activity will you be doing in the sun? What are you most excited for this summer? Let us know!

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in 2010; it was completely updated and revamped in 2021 with new photos and information.

41 thoughts on “Sun Protection Tips: How to Protect Yourself from Sun Damage & Still Look Great”

  1. Very relevant topic. I just read on Time magazine that young women can be more easily convinced about the risks of sun damage when they are told about how it affects their appearance (wrinkles). That is so true. Because somehow we all think that cancer is never going to happen to us… Crazy!

    I am from a country (Brazil) where people love tanned skin and they really call me whitey (even though for U.S. standards I’m not that white), but whenever someone says I need to get some tan I always say I prefer to keep my skin healthy.

    The only thing I hate is that I can’t find a moisturizer with sunscreen that won’t make my face shiny.

    Reply
  2. So, I haven’t decided how I feel about this yet, so please, feel free to comment on my comment 🙂

    I go to the tanning bed and just turned 22. I have been going since I was a teenager. I want to quit, but I seriously look great with a tan and terrible without it. And I’m not just being vain, I really look bad without a tan, its crazy. And spray tans are NOT worth the money. They only last about 3 days and cost too much. And for those of you that call tanners “oompa loompas”, thats not funny, and its not true, tanning can look great if not overdone.

    I need a product that makes me tan and is worth the money. I don’t like any of the Jergen’s products. And why do I need to wear SPF if I have an office job and go to school? I don’t really understand the point.

    Reply
  3. Thanks for this great article! Girls need to remember to be comfortable in their own skin and not look like fake orange oompa loompas!!

    Reply
  4. Sunshine– better young and with a bottle-tan than young with skin cancer. A girl I went to high school with just found out she has skin cancer– AND SHE IS ONLY TWENTY YEARS OLD!!!!

    I’m proud to rock the pale skin. And I’ll still look good when I’m 45.

    Reply
  5. I’m a super-pale redhead, I’m having trouble finding SPF for every day that doesn’t break me out. I still wear it, but man it sucks being broken out when the last thing I want to do is cover up in makeup.

    Reply
  6. Sunscreen is routine for me, like brushing my teeth. I worked at a cancer clinic (as a summer student) and there was a male patient who passed away from melanoma, which started in his foot. It was unbelievable. The only thing I would add to this article is to MAKE SURE, ladies and gents, that you COVER yourself in lotion: ears, feet, backs of hands…etc. Another great article!!

    Reply
  7. I have yet to find a good sunless tanner. I think they all look unnatural on me. I have a weird skin color and I tan differently than most white people so those tanners just don’t work for me.
    I’ve never been in a tanning bed, and I never would, but I do love bronzing poolside in the sunshine. I wear sunscreen when I do, and even though technically its damaged skin, i love the tan I get.
    So basically, I’m super conflicted. Its like I know better but I don’t care and I hate being like that.
    I think sunshine, like everything else, is okay in moderation.

    Reply
  8. YES ! the shisedo sunblock is a bit expensive but i’ve been usign this baby for ONE year and it works WONDERS ! its very high in spf & doesn’t irritate skin !

    Reply
  9. Sunshine (and everyone else who thinks sun protection is a joke, including me, circa 2008),

    I recently had to have SEVERAL “suspicious” spots removed and tested for cancer – They were tiny, tiny moles or dots, nothing like the scary pictures in magazines. I went to three different dermatologists for different opinions (hey, I didn’t want holes cut in my body). All of them said the same thing – they need to get out! So, it’s been almost two weeks later, and I have 6 different dime sizes holes in my body that will absolutely scar. Yes, I thought a tan would be worth being old and wrinkly, but now I will have scars for the rest of my life (one of which is on my forehead). NOT WORTH IT! Yes, I miss having a golden tan, and I should buy stock in sunless tanners, but holy cow, being told I might have cancer was the scariest thing ever (and I’m 23). Luckily, my results came back a few days ago and none of the spots were cancerous, but it happens!

    Plus, one of my best friends older sister (who is 28) tanned for only special occasions and in the summer when she was in her teens/early 20s, and she is already getting botox for wrinkles. Old and wrinkley, not a problem. 28 and wrinkles? No thanks.

    Thanks, CF, for this article. People will still tan if they are bull-headed enough, but if this article made ONE person rethink that baby oil or tanning bed, it was worth it!

    And tan is not nature’s answer to SPF…it’s your body’s reaction to being BURNED. Dark skin (naturally, like in African and Middle Eastern people) is nature’s answer to SPF – the melanin in their skin helps with sun protection, but they can STILL get skin cancer!

    Reply
  10. Good call on this article! I’m an avid sunscreen user (SPF 45 is a must for me), and my favourite brand is Ombrelle (by L’Oreal).

    Also, I would really like to see a post about stylish hats for the summer – I have no idea what’s “in” right now! Thanks 🙂

    Reply
  11. Such awesome hats! And I LOVE my Olay stuff. Normally I don’t think about sunscreen, but I don’t have to because it is in my Olay moisturizer. Great post.

    Aaaaaaand Sunshine, I LOVE the sun too but you gotta remember waaaaaaay back in the day really white people lived in places where the light level was not so intense. People who lived where there is more sun had the adaptation of darker skin with more melanin, which helps protect the skin from the UV rays that cause cancer . Today Australia, a place with people who came from England (a low light place with low melanin people), has one of the worst skin cancer rates in the world b/c it’s tons of pale people in the sun too long.

    Not only that but people a long time ago, especially those from the low light areas, went outside completely covered up, and that was their sunscreen. I believe we were created to be outside too. So frolic and be free in the sun, just be careful please! 🙂

    Reply
  12. The sun’s rays damage was not as potent back in the days as it is now because of the depletion of the ozone, Sunshine. You dont have to do what the article tells you but please dont discourage other people from protecting themselves or bash an article that is meant to help out others. That’s just immature.

    Anyways, I enjoy using Jergens Natural Glow, it works awesome on my skin. My mom never tanned and she just turned 56 and when we go out people really really think she’s my older sister, sun damage is not joke at all. It’s not about looking wrikly, it’s about serious damage to your skin.

    Reply
  13. Some good advice! I’ve got the kind of skin that burns, and never tans so I’m always very careful to protect my skin from the sun. I had never heard of that Sun Guard stuff to wash you clothes in, but it looks like an interesting concept.

    And because I do a lot of copy editing, I have to point out that it’s Olay Regenerist and not Reginerist. Just so you know and can fix it!

    Reply
  14. Rather old and wrinkley than young and white. I want to look good in the prime of my life!
    Yeeez, what’s with the sunblock? We are animals, we are created to stay outside! People was out and about in the sun ages before sunscreen and hardly anyone of them are known to be killed by cancer.
    I will be enjoying the sun with no sunsceen and a REAL tan. Tan is natures answer to SPF!

    Reply

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