The Wonderful World of Skin Sun Protection

Sunscreen is a great way to protect your skin from the sun. But did you know there are other ways to protect yourself and your skin from dangerous UV rays? There are many different internal and external methods of UV protection, including ones regulated by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) as forms of skin cancer prevention. So which sun protection method will you choose to keep your skin safe this summer?

The Skin Report is a podcast created to educate listeners on methods to improve skin health for people of all ethnicities and ages. On this episode, host Dr. Sethi continues her melanin series by sharing how people can protect their skin from the sun. She explains how wearing sunscreen, reapplying sunscreen with mineral powder SPF, and taking oral supplements for sun exposure can provide extra protection on those sunny days. Additionally, she gives tips on purchasing the right sunglasses, hats, and SPF clothing that can keep you safe, healthy, and happy this season.

As the founder of RenewMD Beauty Medical Spas and a woman of color, Dr. Sethi shares her perspective, experience, and knowledge on UV-safe skincare for all skin types and shades. So expand your skincare knowledge and learn how to keep your skin safe with this enriching episode!

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This transcript was exported on June 16, 2023 -view latest version here.

Skincare can sometimes feel overwhelming. Whether it’s finding the right products, ingredients or treatments, there’s a lot out there, but not always for people of African, Hispanic, Middle Eastern and Eastern South Asian descent. That’s why I set out to educate myself and others so that we can all feel beautiful in our skin. Hello and welcome back to The Skin Report. I’m Dr. Simran Sethi, an internal medicine doctor, mom of three, and CEO and founder of Skin by Dr. Sethi and RenewMD Medical Spas.

Last week in honor of Juneteenth, we embraced the superpowers of our melanin. For today, I want to talk about ways we can further protect our skin from the sun with more than just our sunscreen. The first and most obvious way to protect your skin from the sun is sunscreen. At the end of April this year, we covered our sunscreen favorites or flops. I highly recommend checking out that episode. It will be linked in our show notes. If you are curious about chemical versus mineral sunscreen, we did an episode discussing their different properties, benefits and disadvantages.

Beyond sunscreen, however, there are other ways to protect you and your skin. With hotter summers and high UV indexes, it’s important to ensure you’re healthy and happy. One of the ways to accomplish this is incorporating a mineral powder brush into your routine. What are mineral powder brushes? This product is a brush and a powder SPF in one. Well-known brands such as Supergoop! and Ulta Beauty carry these powder brushes. Mineral powder SPF brushes are a great way to reapply sunscreen no matter where you are. They can be applied over your makeup or on top of your normal SPF multiple times a day, and this means that you do not have to wash your skin and reapply sunscreen. However, I want to make sure they roll as a reapplication of SPF is clear.

While SPF mineral sunscreen powders provides sun protection, they do not give as much protection as applying a liquid sunscreen. Always apply your liquid sunscreen first and then apply the brush on powder. I use a Colorescience brush on powdered sunscreen on top of my line sunscreen in the morning, and then I brush on another layer when I’m ready to do my afternoon commute back home. When we return, we’ll take on other supplements and products that can ensure you’re properly protected.

Did you know there’s an oral supplement you can take to help with exposure to the sun? It’s called Heliocare and it was first developed to help people who are prone to get skin cancers and because it is considered a form of skin cancer prevention, it is heavily regulated by the USFDA. You don’t need to have a history of skin cancer to use Heliocare, but what is it exactly? Heliocare is derived from a fern called Polypodium leucotomos, and when taken as an oral supplement, it helps your body fight against free radical damage, including damage from UV rays. In a way, it is an internal sunscreen made from a fern extract and not chemicals. It truly works wonders because people state that if they normally get sunburned by the pool in 30 minutes, after taking Heliocare, they don’t experience a burn for about four to five hours of being in the sun.

I take Heliocare every morning and have noticed that when I’m out and about, I don’t have any tan lines. It can be taken daily by anyone and I highly recommend it for anyone who wants to keep their skin healthy, spends a lot of time outside or even in the car, or has skin conditions like melasma. If a supplement isn’t your style, then I recommend finding a great hat to provide shade over your face and give an extra layer of protection. There is this misconception that wearing a hat would make you warmer in the sun. However, they will not cause the body to overheat because humans can adequately release excess heat by sweating. In fact, hats may actually help one slightly cool down due to the amount of shade provided. The more tightly woven the material the hat is made from, the greater the protection it provides. Additionally, if the hat has a wide brim, it will provide greater defense.

We all know that sunglasses give our eyes the necessary protection they need. In fact, sunglasses have also been clinically proven to prevent the formation of cataract. A condition called age-related macular degeneration is also caused by prolonged exposure to UV rays, so we all know we need them, but there are so many options to choose from. How do you know if your sunglasses are actually keeping your eyes safe? You don’t have to spend a lot of money on your sunglasses as long as they’re marked as having a UV400 rating.This rating means that the sunglasses provide 99 to 100% protection from UVA and UVB rays. The great thing about purchasing sunglasses is that the USFDA regulates non-prescription sunglasses as medical devices. Therefore, the FDA requires that manufacturers and retailers meet minimum requirements for UV protection, lens quality, impact resistance, labeling, and more.

Next, I want to talk about blue light glasses. If you’ve been listening to my podcast for a while now, you know that I’m a big proponent of blue light protection as new studies reveal the damage it can cause. I know there is still some debate regarding the legitimacy of blue light glasses and protective screens. However, I want to pose this. The consequences of not wearing blue light glasses greatly outweighs the risks of losing money on a one-time purchase. Blue light glasses and screens are worth the money because they do block HEV light from harming your eyes and skin. However, it is important to get a properly studied blocker, which will cost more, but at least is properly functioning. Typical blue light screens found on Amazon are only blocking about 30 to 20% of rays. My blue light blocking glasses and screen are from a company called Ocushield, and I can definitely tell that my eye strain reduced significantly compared to a screen I got on Amazon. It’s an investment in your eye health and in you, and you’re worth the investment.

When we return, I want to wrap up the episode with a final option for SPF. Stay tuned.When we talk about sun protection, I think it’s also important to acknowledge the clothes we wear when spending time outside. UV rays can penetrate through clothing, but in general, very few rays make it through. Of course, the weave or thickness of the clothing and color impact the amount of UV protection the clothes are given. So let’s look at thickness, color, and material and how these factors impact the amount of UV rays getting through. First, thickness. If the fabric is thicker and tightly woven, it will provide more protection from UV rays. When it comes to color, it’s good to know that lighter colors allow more rays to pass through than darker hues. I feel that the thickness of the fabric is still the greater determinant of rays passing through than the color. Lastly, are there certain materials that are better than others? Nylon and polyester are more tightly woven, which is why they offer more UV protection than natural fibers.

Just like sunscreens, fabrics also have a UV protective rating called the UPF. UPF stands for Ultraviolet Protection Factor, as it is a measurement of how much of the sun’s UV rays penetrate a garments fabric and makes contact with our skin. While SPF is commonly had throughout the summer, UPF comes up more often within the context of the textile industry.

All fabrics have a designated UPF rating between 15 to 50 in regards to their level of sun protection. The higher the rating, the better. For example, a rating of 50 would indicate that only one-fiftieth of the sun’s rays will penetrate the fabric, which means it is blocking 98% of the sun’s rays. This is obviously much more protective than an item that has a UPF rating of 20, which only blocks about 50% of the rays.

Some chemical additives like titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, and Tinosorb FD are infused into fabric to improve UV filtering, but the reality is that you can achieve similar UV blocking capabilities by wearing tighter weave fabrics, especially in dark colors. I would rather do that than adding chemicals to clothing.

The question then remains, should you wear sunscreen and SPF clothing? Wearing sunscreen along with SPF clothing would only be advisable if you’re going to be in very extended periods of sun. Of course, it wouldn’t hurt to wear sunscreen below your clothing, but if your clothing has a high UPF, then wearing SPF below it will not add a much greater level of protection. Overall, wearing sunscreen and purchasing the right sunglasses, hats, and screens can keep you safe, healthy, and happy this summer holiday.

I hope you enjoyed our episode on sun protection. If you’d like more of this content, let us know. We are a woman of color-owned brand and any likes, reviews, ratings and shares truly help to boost the podcast and get it in front of others like yourself. Thanks for listening, and until next time, love the skin you’re in and celebrate your beauty.

If you’d like to learn more about science backed skincare or medical aesthetic treatments, please subscribe to and turn on notifications for the Skin Report so you always know when an episode is up. We have a newsletter that you can sign up for on so that you can stay up to date on all our latest products and more. Additionally, if you have a skincare question or want to make an episode topic recommendation, please message me at, which is linked in my show notes, and I’ll be sure to answer your question in an episode soon. We’ve received some great questions so far and I will try and answer them at the end of every episode, so keep them coming.

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