How To, Skin Care Through the Seasons, Skin Care Tips and Trends

Sunburn Prevention

Some Tips To Help Keep Sunburn Away This Summer by Dr Alek Nikolic

Sunscreen Mistakes Lead To Sunburn

I am a realist and know we live in sunny South Africa so it makes sense that most of us will be enjoying our sunny climate and the beach this festive season but sunburn prevention is vital from a skin cancer perspective and from a skin ageing perspective. Sunburn can also happen on ski slopes and even when sitting in the shade so if you want to prevent sunburn but still enjoy your holiday read this helpful guide full of great tips.

[quote author=”Dr Alek Nikolic”]“Sunscreen needs to be re-applied especially if you are in and out of the water and contrary to popular belief there is no such thing as waterproof sunscreen.”[/quote]

Most sunscreens are however water resistant which means they will provide protection in the water but for a limited period only. Typically, skin protection will be maintained once the sunscreen has been applied and tends to last between 40 minutes to 80 minutes and this will also vary between the brands and the ingredients used.


Sunburn Prevention Tips:

  1. Wear the right sunscreen: I am a firm believer in using a SPF 30 or higher that contains zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide. These are mineral blockers or reflectors and have been shown to reflect all harmful UVA and UVB wavelengths.
  2. Use enough sunscreen: a good guideline is to use one teaspoon for the entire face and similarly for the neck and chest (1 teaspoon each).
  3. Re-apply, re-apply, and re-apply: my recommendation is to add a new layer of sunscreen every 2 hours and remember if you are in the water I would re-apply after each swim just to be on the safe side.
  4. Apply sunscreen on your neck and chest as these are delicate areas and tend to age quickly with repeated UV exposure.
  5. Don’t forget to apply sunscreen on your hands, ears and eyelids too.
  6. Keep extra tubes of sunscreen with you just in case.
  7. Choose sunglasses with UV protective coating lenses.

skislope-sunburn-preventionPlease note that even if you take all the above precautions we can still get sunburned when the sun is intense (so check the local UV warnings and levels online), if you are at high elevations (ski slopes), if you are close to the equator and if you genetically have fair skin that burns easily.

[quote author=”Dr Alek Nikolic”]“A common misconception is that we will not tan if we use sunscreen and this could not be further from the truth. We still tan as melanin is produced with sun exposure even through a sunscreen, it just takes a little longer and more importantly our tans will tend to last longer once our holiday is over and we are back at work”.[/quote]

UV Fast Fact: The Sun is Highly Reflective Even in the Shade

umbrella-shade-sunburn-preventionDid you know that ground surfaces can reflect UV rays and it has been found that snow can reflect more than 70% of UV while sand can reflect about 20% of UV rays? Very simply what this means is that just because we are wearing a hat or sitting on the beach under an umbrella or even in a shady spot we can still burn.

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What To Look For In A Sunscreen

‘Broad Spectrum SPF’ marked on the product

SPF 30 or higher

At least one of these active ingredients:

Zinc Oxide 5% or more, with Octocrylene

Titanium Dioxide 5% or more

Ecamsule (Mexoryl SX) 3%

Avobenzone 3%



Tip For The True ‘Anti-Agers’: Cover up

The most important areas to cover are the face, neck, décolleté, and hands. The skin on these areas will age faster especially during the strongest UV exposure that usually ranges between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm.

[quote author=”Dr Alek Nikolic”]“Take cover in a shady spot from time to time and remember to keep hydrated and to keep on re-applying that sunscreen”.[/quote]

I hope you have found the above article on sunburn prevention helpful and I hope you have a great and safe summer holiday.

Kind regards

Dr Alek Nikolic

About Dr Alek Nikolic

Dr Alek Nikolic was born in South Africa and received his MBBCh (Wits) in 1992 and in 2000 he received his MBA (UCT). He has been in private practice for 24 years and is the owner of Aesthetic Facial Enhancement, which has offices in Cape Town. Dr Nikolic specialises in aesthetic medicine and is at the forefront of the latest developments in his field. He is very driven and has lectured extensively and has performed live demonstrations throughout South Africa and Internationally including Bangkok, Rome, Paris, Monte Carlo, Prague, and Warsaw. Dr Nikolic’s focus is on skin care, skin ingredients and cosmetic dermatology treatments such as lasers, chemical peels, Botox, and Dermal Fillers. He has performed over 20 000 procedures to date and as such is responsible for training numerous medical practitioners both in South Africa and internationally. Dr Nikolic is one of the founding members of the South African Allergan Medical Aesthetic Academy and chaired its inaugural launch in 2012. The Allergan Academy provides essential training to keep up with the latest technology in aesthetics. Dr Nikolic holds the advisory position of Allergan Local Country Mentor in Facial Aesthetics and is the Allergan Advanced Botox and Dermal Filler Trainer. He is Vice President of the Aesthetic and Anti-Aging Medicine Society of South Africa (AAMSSA) and is an Associate Member of the American Society of Laser Medicine and Surgery (ASLMS).

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