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Woman by the Sea

Sun & Skin

Fun in the sun. 


With the rise in melanoma and the debate about sunscreen's effectiveness and dangers, it can seem like a jungle out there. We've created this page as a resource for you to educate yourself about the risks and benefits of sun exposure and sunscreen.

Too much sun can increase the risk of skin cancer, but research shows that sunscreen may have some questionable ingredients, as well as questionable results when it comes to helping prevent cancer.

A few tips to help use the sun to benefit your skin, not harm it.

  1. Start your time in the sun early in the morning when the sun has no UV rays. This doesn’t mean stay outside from sunrise to sunset, but priming your skin in the morning with the infrared light from the sun tells your eye receptors to start producing melanin so you’re less likely to burn later.

  2. Limit your exposure during the peak hours of the day. Between noon and 3pm for most places, the sun is at an all-time high for UV rays. This is when your skin is most likely to burn. So find some shade and enjoy lunch during this time!

  3. DO NOT wear sunglasses. This tip might seem counterintuitive but if you check the science, it makes sense! Your eye has many receptors, the pineal gland being one of them. When we wear sunglasses, the sun is blocked from our eyes which don’t allow the brain to get the signal to produce melanin that protects us from the harsh UV rays. Basically your brain thinks you are inside therefore leaving your pores wide open for the sun to come in.

Click here for a guide to choosing a sunscreen that reduces your exposure to chemicals.

At the end of the day, be smart and responsible - we weren't meant to spend hours on end in the sun. Sunscreen is just that - a screen, so remember that you're still getting sun exposure. Cover up, and find shade during the hottest hours. You might not be the most fashionable person outside, but you'll know you're taking good care of your future self!

Below is the article by Dr. Moleski published in the Tallahassee Reports:


School is out and summer fun and vacations are at hand. Before you grab your generic sunscreen and head out the door, ask yourself if you really understand what you’re putting on your skin…  

According to the Environmental Working Group, almost 75% of sunscreen products offer inferior sun protection or contain worrisome ingredients like oxybenzone (a hormone disruptor) or retinyl palmitate (a synthetic form of vitamin A that may harm skin).

Ever heard that “less is more” or “it’s too good to be true”?  Research shows that this may be the case with sunscreen.  Is it really possible to apply a cream to your skin, be in direct sunlight for hours on end, and get away scot-free?  Let’s take a look:

Melanoma: The FDA allows most sunscreens to claim that they play a role in preventing skin cancer, although there is little scientific evidence to suggest that sunscreen alone reduces cancer risk, particularly for melanoma. According to the Aim At Melanoma Foundation, the incidence rate of melanoma has doubled since 1973. Despite a growing awareness of the dangers of exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet radiation, melanoma rates have dramatically increased over the past three decades.  

UVA/UVB: Sunscreen labeled “broad spectrum” protects against both UVA and UVB. The primary ingredients in natural sunscreens, Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide, provide broad spectrum protection. Sunlight consists of two types of harmful rays: UVA and UVB. Overexposure to either can lead to skin cancer. UVA rays (aging rays) can cause wrinkles and age spots, and pass through windows. UVB rays (burning rays) are the primary cause of sunburn and are blocked by windows. 

SPF (Sun Protection Factor): Bigger isn’t better. In reality, higher SPF ratings don’t necessarily offer greater protection and may lead people to spend too much time in the sun. Dermatologists recommend using a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, which blocks 97% of the sun’s rays. All sunscreens should be applied approximately every two hours, and after swimming or sweating.

Water Resistance: Sunscreen manufacturers now are banned from claiming that a sunscreen is "waterproof" or "sweat proof," as the FDA has determined that those terms are misleading. Sunscreens now labeled “Water Resistant” mean that it is effective for up to 40 minutes in water.

The full effects generic sunscreen chemicals have on our bodies may not yet be realized. You have to ask yourself why the skin cancer rate is so high when there is such a great awareness about the harmful effects of sun exposure. What mother in the past 30 years hasn’t been saying, “Don’t forget your sunscreen”? In using sunscreen, I would recommend only those with natural ingredients.

In short: Be smart about the length of time you spend in the sun. Wear a hat. Cover up. There is something very unnatural about staying directly exposed to the sun. Common sense would move you to cover up or to seek shade.

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