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

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

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.


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.


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. I’m forwarding this article to my tan-aholic roommates ASAP. Tanning is just not worth it. Especially when there are products like Jergens Natural Glow available – I absolutely swear by that stuff!

  2. Sunshine :

    I appreciate your explanation and apologise for lashing out. While I may not agree with your reasons, they are certainly understandable. I guess I need to deal with that chip on my shoulder…

    xoxo, Scarlett

  3. I love the Jason Mraz’ ish hat types. Throw on a flannel, ripped denim shorts and boots and hello hammock and guitar. Welcome summer.

    To celar up confusion about my tan;
    I tan 1-3 hours daily in the real sun with no SPF. I do this all year, and never get burned. If you don’t have a base or you have skin that burns, do not take a walk in my shoes.
    Self tanners have proven to be quite dangerous(and you mostly end up looking like a human carrot), and tanningbeds…yeah, not woth mentioning.

    I love the sun, and the time I spend tanning is the only time I’m fully exposed. I do NOT believe in overuse of SPF or dressing like an eskimo. I do not believe in hooker-tans eighter. You know what I mean.

    Why I wrote what I did in post 1 was because that is how I feel. Anti sun propaganda is being shoved down our necks and I was trying to show some frustration. I think the SPF propganda is overdone, mainly because it only shows one side of the story.

    I hope my statement didn’t bother you to much. x

  4. Scarlett:
    You don’t need to “burst my bubble” and I am sorry if I in any way have offended you as I was not trying to be mean. I simply stated my belief and it might seem a little blunt due to the fact that my mother tounge is Norwegian.
    However, what I don’t get is that tan is not natural spf. It is the skins way of protecting itself from the sun than how can it not be good for you? I get that if you spend much of the year inside and come out to play one month of the year, sun is baaaad. Most derms seem to agree that if you are out and about all year the skin learns to protect itself(natural protection).
    “pathetic sake of vanity” Sadly my tanning has very little to do with vanity and more to do with my ichtyosis. It truly is a cure, and I find life much more liberating without medicin.
    AGAIN; my post was not supposed to offend you, and I see why you react strongly. My point is that you should not overdo protection. I never said overdo tanning eighter, just that I was enjoying the sun without spf.
    “People was out and about in the sun ages before sunscreen and hardly anyone of them are known to be killed by cancer.” This is actually something I asked my derm about, and my conclution of my discussion with him. I’m not quite shure what you want me to say further about this subject.
    Sorry for the long post, I won’t bother me if you don’t read it. Just thought I should explain myself.

  5. well now I read the comments…
    Luckily the Europeant Union united the SPF number specification, so it is easier to pick. The proof about sunblocks being harmful: me!
    And those are really nice hats. I wish I found a pretty one form me, my old (almost) sombrero) looks used.

  6. College Fashion –

    Thank you, thank you, thank you a million times from the bottom of my heart. This is an article that so many girls need to read.

    Sun protection and tanning in general is a matter close to my heart, because my dad’s battle with cancer began in the skin. It later reached his lymph nodes and spread. He never tried to get tan, but when he was home between flights he’d work outside in the garden, with horses, etc. Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that you don’t even have to try to get cancer. You just have to be careless.

    Sunshine : Let’s burst some bubbles right now. A tan is NOT nature’s answer to SPF. A tan is nature trying to protect you, since you’re obviously rather unwilling to do so for the pathetic sake of vanity. Why look good in the prime of your life when you can look good all your life? It’s called ‘bronzer,’ and it’s cheap. Invest in some and a good fan brush to match. You say hardly anyone was known to be killed of cancer ‘in the ages before sunscreen.’ If this is true, I’d love for you to explain how Hippocrates was able to document so many different types of cancer in his writings. Really, try, it would greatly entertain me. Then again, ANY attempted rebuttal would be entertaining.

    Ariel : It’s important to wear sunscreen even if you’re indoors because UV rays penetrate glass. 🙂

    Thanks again, College Fashion. More people need to read and heed this article.

    xoxo, Scarlett

  7. Some of you guys asked about facial sunscreens. I bought Banana Boat Sport Performance Active Dry Protect and it came with a free sample of face sunscreen. Not only does it provide 30 SPF and protects you from UVA and UVB, but it is oil free and therefore prevents breakouts. It dries quickly, and in my experience, it really works. Plus, it doesn’t look greasy!

    Maybe it will work for you too 🙂

  8. I think this post is awesome, very good information!

    The facts about sunscreen doing more harm is strange, I’ve never heard of that before. I’ve been wearing sunscreen for over 20 years and my parents even longer and none of us have mutated dna or anything, and we don’t have skin cancer. When every magazine has an article about the harm of suncreen like it does about the harm of the sun I’ll take it more serious. Until then, I’ll keep the sunscreen on to keep the sun’s harmful rays off of me.

    It’s like comparing the safety of different ways to travel, planes crash, boats sink, and trains derail. This post is called How to Protect Yourself From Sun Damage, not sun screen. If it was called how to be informed of the safest ways to travel by boat, you wouldn’t comment saying ride a plane. Those crash and things happen there too, there’s ups and downs to everything.

    Just saying, great post Calli!

  9. This article is brilliant, but may I just point out one thing. I recently read an article about a woman who made sure she always had sunscreen on and stayed out of the sun as much as possible. She’s now suffering from hypovitaminosis D because her body was severely deficient in vitamin D. While it’s important to protect our skin from the sun’s rays, there has to be a balance, because the sun does a lot of good too. As long as sunscreen is topped up after every few hours, going out in the sun shouldn’t be a problem.

  10. Totally agree with everything posted on this article! I have lived in South Florida my entire life and USED to go to tanning beds about once or twice a week a couple years ago. I have just now, at 19, really started to understand the importance of sunscreen and how HORRIBLE tanning beds are for you. I don’t want to wake up only 10 years from now and have wrinkles all over my face from something as silly as not wanting to wear sunscreen. Thanks for the post! Good job!!

  11. to Sunshine-
    “Rather old and wrinkley than young and white. I want to look good in the prime of my life!”

    Really? Thats an attitude alot of girls I know have, and it really upsets me. I used to go tanning, but that was before my mom was diagnosed with skin cancer. She used to lay out in the sun every day which is what doctors said caused the cancer.

    She had to have a large portion of skin removed and reconstructive surgery on her face. It’s eight months later and she will still need more surgeries if she wants to look the way she did pre surgery and pre cancer. She was actually lucky with that outcome, I could have lost my mom.

    I also know a SEVENTEEN year old guy, who had melanoma on his back in three different places. He never used sunscreen.

    Please everyone, don’t be idiots when it comes to tanning. It really can kill you.

  12. I would rather be white as paper and cancer-free (as long as possible anyways). With all the toxins that we take in compared to people of the past, our cancer risks are higher as it is–why make it worse by bringing it on?

    I know someone that constantly tans (it looks gross) and she has huge spots of discolored blackish gray skin on her body now from the damage. I used a tanning bed once before prom and got burned and that is the last time I ever “tanned” myself.

  13. I hope this website won’t become part of the youth-worship culture completely. Yes, sun protection is important, but no, SPF will not keep skin young and wrinkly forever.

    So next time, please don’t use pictures of wrinkles and call it “not so cute”, because it’s this obsession with youth that’s not cute.

  14. Thanks for such an important beauty article!
    I wear sunscreen every single day, all seasons. It’s especially important here in Australia, where we sit directly under a giant fat hole in the ozone layer and our sun is extremely strong. I use Neutrogena’s Ultrasheer Drytouch, it feels lovely on your skin, and is a fantastic base for foundation.
    I was very disappointed though by your inclusion of a suggestion to “reverse sun damage”. Sun damage cannot, ever, be reversed. It is extremely irresponsible of you to mislead your readers like that – you cannot undo the harm caused!

  15. Thank you SO MUCH for writing this article! So many people are either unaware or ignorant to the effects of sun tanning AND tanning beds. Spray tans can be worth the $25+ dollars if you find the right salon; it just takes some trial and error. Since spray tans don’t last more than a few days, I love to use Victoria’s Secret New Beach Sexy line. I use the Daily Glow Gradual Tan Moisturizer with SPF 15 in it every day. I highly recommend this stuff (I’m pretty picky when it comes to self-tanners)! I hope this article changed at least a few reader’s attitudes and behaviors on tanning.

    P.S. My mom, like @Isabelle’s, hasn’t tanned and moisturizes her face and body every day and looks at least 10 years younger than she really is (in both mine and many other people’s opinion).

  16. Thank you for writing this post – love it! But I have a suggestion,

    Do you think you could do a quick update/second part on this post? I recently found a nonprofit group called the Environment Working Group, which tests every single sunscreen on the market for all chemicals that are harmful, and apparently only 8% of sunscreens are NOT harmful to your health! Apparently a ton of popular sunscreens contain chemicals that can cause hormone changes/skin damage/etc!

    It’d be really cool if you could sift through these and find affordable but safe brands and further discuss the important of skincare. The only one I found so far that is great and cheap is all “Coppertone” products, which has a safety level of 3. I just figure that since College Fashion is so powerful, it’d be great if you could do this. Thanks!


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