Sun Safe

We’re at the peak of summer right now. I think it’s important to really keep in mind that the sun can cause serious damage. Yes, it’s fun to go outside and go the beach, but you don’t want to pay for it later down the road. (Too many of my friends have had skin cancer or skin cancer scares, including my mom.)
Keep in mind, there is no such thing as a “healthy tan.” Any tan is damage to your skin. (For more information about staying healthy this summer, I recommend doing some research with reputable organizations.) Anddddd, this would be a very good time to check in with your dermatologist if it’s been a while! I always find it awkward to do the body checks, but walk out of the office feeling so relieved knowing things look okay!
Here are my tips for staying safe in the sun:
1. Don’t listen to what other people say about your skin.I repeat, do not listen to what other people have to say about your skin. My family is very, very tan and I’m the odd girl out with the whitest skin. I’m basically translucent. I think I had gotten kind of tan throughout my high school years of being a coxswain and practicing outside 20 hours a week. When I came back from college and switched into a pair of shorts, my dad’s first remarks were “you’re so pale you look sick!” At some point, our society has deemed tan skin healthy (“healthy glow” anyone?), when in reality the skin you have is your healthy skin whether you’ve got gorgeous ebony skin or porcelain pale skin. Even people who “don’t burn” need to use sunscreen.

At times, I let myself believe that my pale skin is ugly and needs to be remedied, but it’s just who I am. I’m doing my best to embrace it this summer, especially with shorts/dresses/bathing suits.

(The only time to listen to someone about your skin is if they notice a weird mole. Have a friend, mom, or significant other check your back and the backs of your legs!)

2. Use a moisturizer with SPF every day.I think it’s easy to remember to put on sunscreen when you’re going to the beach, but don’t forget to put it on every day. Use a moisturizer that has SPF for your face and body. Don’t forget your ears, your scalp, the tops of your feet…. and your neck. (You’ll thank yourself later in life when your hands and neck don’t tell your age!)

I use this every day before my makeup, and it’s small enough to tuck into my purse for reapplication if I find myself outside again. I also like Clinique’s City Block, and I’d like to try Supergoop’s products.

3. Avoid the sun during “peak” hoursI find this hard to abide by, especially in the summer when I’m tempted to be outside as much as possible. If you can, though, try to avoid the sun when it’s at its strongest: 10 am to 2 pm. If you’re an outdoors workout kind of girl, try a morning jog or a sunset swim.

4. Apply sunscreen nakedThis sounds a little risqué, but I swear by it. Apply your sunscreen completely in the nude. I used to put it on while wearing my bathing suit but I always ended up missing a spot… or my bathing suit would shift, and I’d get burned in weird patches. Applying naked means you get every inch of skin covered, regardless of whether or not your suit covers it.

I start with my face and methodically work my way down my body, so I don’t miss anything. It takes a whilllllle but it’s so worth it.

5. Cover up and stay in the shadeSo you’re out at the beach or the dog park or boating with friends. And it’s peak sun hours. And not a cloud in the sky. Seek shade when possible and cover up.

Wear floppy hats, a coverup with UPF, a rash guard with your bathing suit. I’m forever grateful that J. Crew started making rash guards for adults. They’re game changers!!!

6. Don’t be fooled

This is the biggest trick in the book. Don’t let a cloudy, overcast day fool you…. you can still get burned!!!!

Any other sun tips?!

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Tori Moore

I'm so bad about all of these tips even though I am very fair skinned. The one I abide by most is sitting in the shade! I'll spend a few minutes laying in the sun, and then I'll put on my shirt and move under the umbrella. My friends make fun of me but it is SO worth it!


Ellie Lucash

I am also super fair (I'm usually the lightest shade in makeup) and also am a fan of the sunscreen in the nude rule. Every time I get lazy and skip this step, I get burned. I grew up in Charleston and spent plenty of time at the pool/beach and know better.

I have also become a HUGE fan of Coola sunscreen. I especially like that it's physical sunblock instead of chemical so you don't have the waiting 20-30 minutes for sun exposure the way you do with chemical sunblock. I also started using Origins A Perfect World Moisturizer with SPF and LOVE it!

Angela Scibilia

Great tips Carly! Ever since I started going to the dermatologist on a regular basis I've been wearing sunscreen every day. It's so important! Your last point is also important. Just because it's cloudy doesn't mean that there aren't UV rays. Sometimes you get burned more on a cloudy day then you do when it's sunny out.



I know people who have had skin cancer scares too. It's better to be safe than sorry. Wearing spf moisturizer daily is a habit I would like to pick up.


Great post Carly, and I think extra important for young people to read. Your first point is a great one. I'm super pale, practically translucent, and I spent WAY too much time damaging my skin when I was younger to try to get tan, and then later (when I gave up on that), hiding my legs by not wearing shorts and dresses because I was so embarrassed at my paleness. Growing up, it seemed everyone I knew was obsessed with being tan and so I was insecure about my skin, to say the least. So glad that as I've gotten older, I've learned to just accept myself. I hope your younger readers will take this post to heart!

Love Libbie Blog

Thank you so much for posting this! As a woman in her 20s, I have already had to have multiple pre-cancerous spots removed. My skin always just tanned natural and didn't burn easily, but my skin just doesn't do well with the sun. As I've gotten older, I've tried harder to steer clear of the sun and use more spray tans if I do want that "healthy glow" (but I still am leery on that because of all the chemicals!) Sun protection is something I'm passionate about, so thank you so much for this post!


I showed this to my sister and she loves it! She has to be so careful with her complexion

Jordyn Upchurch

I loved that you drew attention that there is no such thing as a "healthy glow" unless it comes from bronzer or a fake tan! Back in the olden days (I'm a history teacher lol) pale skin used to be what people wanted to have because it meant you could afford to stay inside and covered…I wish we could get back to that being trendy!

xoxo, SS

The Southern Stylista

Alex B.

Great post! Thank you for writing about sun safety and promoting safe sun products. My dad is just starting another round of treatment for stage 4 metastatic melanoma, so it's important to educate people! Us pale people gotta stick together! 🙂


Heather A.

Yes yes yes! I'm SO much more concerned about the sun now that I've had a large handful of weird moles and my mom, aunt, and grandmother have all had a couple melanomas (each!) so I know skin cancer is in my genes. I live by the water so many friends don't even wear sunscreen, meanwhile I'm the one covered head to toe in a PFG or rash guard, hat, and zinc sunscreen! Self tanner is the way to go if you NEED that "healthy glow" haha!

xo Heather
Sweet Tea Jubilee


Also incredibly important to remember to reapply sunscreen every 2 hours and to always wear sunglasses as well! As a physician and a 34-year-old woman who has had a melanoma surgically removed from my leg, I am constantly lecturing friends and family about sun safety, and sunglasses are often overlooked. It is also really important to wear higher-quality sunglasses with UV protection embedded in the lenses. Most pairs of fun cheapie sunglasses have UV protection sprayed on, and this can easily come off as over time the sunglasses are dropped, etc. I like to use this as a good excuse to get a nice pair of sunnies! Great post Carly, and SO important!