Almost all of the material below was written by Dr. Katherine Farady, an excellent dermatologist and friend. Dr. Farady spent one whole afternoon in a pharmacy reading the labels on sunscreen preparations and assembling this material for her patients. The patient handout she produced is so good that we have shamelessly plagiarized it (with her permission).

Why do I need sunscreen?

We all need sunscreens to protect us from ultraviolet radiation. This is a form of energy produced by the sun which can damage skin cells. The sun produces two forms of UV radiation which can harm the skin: UVA and UVB. UVB is the most dangerous.  Intense exposures to UVB over a short period of time can cause skin cell death, a.k.a. sunburn. Over a longer period of time (years), cumulative exposure to UVB causes damage to the genetic material in skin cells which can result in the formation of skin cancers. UVA also plays a role in the formation of skin cancer and is the major cause of the wrinkles, brown spots, and complexion changes that we recognize as aging.

But I don't go out in the sun!

Staying out of the sun, especially in the mid day, minimizes UV damage to the skin, but it is almost impossible to totally avoid exposure, especially if you live in Texas. The small amount of sun exposure we experience just going to and from work and running errands builds up over time and causes most of the cumulative sun damage to our skin. Broad-brimmed hats can protect the skin from direct sunlight, but remember that 50% of the sun's rays can be reflected off of cement, sand, or water back onto your face. Windows and windshields screen only the UVB rays- the UVA rays come right through glass.

Do I need to wear sunscreen in the winter?

Yes. Just because the temperature is cool doesn't mean you aren't still getting significant sun exposure. Even on cloudy days, 80% of the UV rays come through.

What sunscreen should I use?

There are hundreds of sunscreens on the market. Find one you like and wear it every day. Look for a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 for everyday use. If you're going to be out all day, an SPF of 30 is better. Products with an SPF of 45 or 50 are available, but the additional sun protection gained beyond SPF 30 is minimal.

All sunscreens are good at blocking UVB, but the only sunscreens that adequately block UVA are those which contain either titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, or avobenzone (also known as Parsol 1789). Remember, it is UVA which causes skin aging; so be sure to use a sunscreen with at least one of these three ingredients.

There are many sunscreens formulated for the face, and these are less likely to feel greasy or clog pores. Sunscreens also come in waterproof formulations for when you are swimming outdoors or perspiring heavily.

Sunscreens should be applied to all exposed areas (face, neck, ears, tops of arms and hands) and ideally should be reapplied every few hours.

Are sunless tanners safe to use?

Yes. Sunless tanners simply stain the skin to make it appear tanned. Remember, though that they do not provide any sun protection and you'll still need to use sunscreens.




  • Elta Block SPF 32
  • Neutrogena UVA/UVB Sunblock 45 (oil-free, sweatproof, waterproof, rubproof)
  • Neutrogena Sensitive Skin UVA/UVB Block SPF 30,(oil-free, chemical-free)
  • Oil of Olay Protective Renewal Lotion SPF 15
  • Oil of Olay Complete UV Protective Moisture Lotion SPF 15
  • Oil of Olay ProVital Protective Moisture Lotion SPF 15
  • Pond's Nourishing Moisture Lotion SPF 15
  • Purpose Dual Treatment Moisture Lotion SPF 15
  • Walgreen's Facial Sunblock SPF 15
  • Estee Lauder Resilience Lift Face and Throat Creme SPF 15
  • Estee Lauder Day Wear Protective Anti-Oxidant Creme SPF 15
  • Estee Lauder Sun Block for Face SPF 15
  • Chanel Precision Rectifiance Day Lift Refining Oil Free Lotion SPF 15
  • Prescriptives Insulation Antioxidant Vitamin Cream SPF 15 (fragrance-free)
  • Prescriptives Anywear SPF 15 (fragrance-free)
  • Lancome UV Expert Sunscreen SPF 15
  • Lancome Soleil Expert Sun Care SPF 30
  • Clinique Weather Everything Environmental Cream SPF 15
  • Shiseido The Skincare Day Protective Moisturizer SPF 15
  • Christian Dior Ultra-Protection UV 30 Ultra UV Coat for the Face SPF 30
  • Clarins Gel Solaire Bronzage Securite Sun Care Gel SPF 15 (water-resistant)
  • La Prairie Cellular Anti-Wrinkle Sun Block SPF 50
  • La Prairie Cellular Anti-Wrinkle Sun Cream SPF 30


  • Bullfrog Superblock 45
  • Coppertone Shade Sunblock Spray Mist SPF 30
  • Hawaiian Tropic 30+
  • Hawaiian Tropic 15+
  • Hawaiian Tropic Baby Faces SPF 50
  • Neutrogena LTVA/UVB Sunblock 45
  • Pre Sun Ultra SPF 30 Gel
  • Pre Sun Ultra 30+


  • Banana Boat Baby Block SPF 50
  • Banana Boat Cool Colorz SPF 30


  • Bio Sun Sunblock Lotion SPF 45
  • Ombrelle Sunscreen Lotion SPF 15
  • Ombrelle Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30
  • Pre Sun Ultra SPF 15
  • SolBar Avo SPF 32


  • Prescriptives Insulation Antioxidant Vitamin Cream SPF 15
  • Prescriptives Anywear SPF 15
  • Vanicream Sunscreen SPF 15
  • Vanicream Sunscreen SPF 35


  • Neutrogena Sensitive Skin UVA/UVB Block SPF 30
  • Vanicream Sunscreen SPF 15


  • Coppertone Shade Sunblock Spray Mist SPF 30
  • Ombrelle Spray SPF 15
  • Pre Sun Ultra Gel SPF 30
  • Pre Sun Ultra Spray SPF 27


  • Almay Time Off Age Smoothing Makeup SPF 12 (fragrance-free)
  • Almay Amazing Lasting Sheer Makeup SPF 12 (oil-free, fragrance-free)
  • L'Oreal Visible Lift Line g Makeup SPF 12
  • Neutrogena Healthy Skin Liquid Makeup SPF 20 (oil-free)
  • Revlon Age Defying Makeup and Concealer SPF 20
  • Revlon New Complexion One Step Makeup SPF 15
  • Revlon New Complexion Even Out Makeup SPF 20 (oil-free)
  • Revlon Colorstay Compact Makeup SPF 25 (oil-free)
  • Revlon Colorstay Lite Makeup SPF 15 (oil-free)
  • Clinique CityBase SPF 15
  • Clinique CityStick SPF 15
  • Estee Lauder Double Wear Stay-in-Place Makeup SPF IO
  • Shiseido Sun Block Compact SPF 32
  • Shiseido Liquid Compact SPF 15

Remember, SKIN CANCER is a very real danger here in Texas because of our hot sun.

To learn more about aging skin, I suggest you visit the website of the American Academy of Dermatology.