Summer marks the season for highly anticipated beach getaways, casual outdoor outings, festivals and wedding season, and as we embrace outdoor festivities with open arms, the LYS team is rounding up all the need-to-know information for sun protection and safety tips to protect your body’s largest organ—the skin! Between learning the Fitzpatrick scale, narrowing down the best topical solutions, and decoding fancy skincare jargon, finding the perfect sun protection is no easy feat.


Year round the Skin Cancer Foundation doubles as an information hub sharing valuable information for catering to your skin’s most pressing needs. According to their website, a jarring 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer by the age of 70, with the risk for melanoma doubling if you’ve had 5 or more sunburns within your lifespan. This comprehensive guide will refresh your memory on why sun protection is important, and how it can play a role in your skin’s appearance, behavior, and functionality.


Understanding Your Skin Type

If you’ve ever tried to match foundation or concealer to your skin, you know just how tricky it is to find the perfect match; and while skin tone categories and undertones help you land the perfect shade, it’s the Fitzpatrick scale classification that is paramount in understanding your skin’s reaction to the sun. This system, which was developed in 1975, is used by skincare professionals to assess a person’s overall risk of sun damage and skin cancer. It takes into consideration both visible characteristics and behavioral elements to determine which skin type you are, thus helping you find the perfect proactive steps towards protecting your skin. Read below to learn your Fitzpatrick type:


  • Type 6 Characteristics
    • Dark brown or black skin
    • Dark eyes and dark hair
    • Skin tans effortlessly and rarely burns
  • Type 5 Characteristics
    • Dark brown skin with warm undertones with no freckles
    • Naturally dark brown or black hair
    • Brown eyes
    • Skin can easily tan with little burning
    • Skin highly prone to deepening in color
  • Type 4 Characteristics
    • Light brown skin with no freckles visible
    • Dark eyes and hair
    • Skin rarely burns and tans quickly
  • Type 3 Characteristics
    • Fair to beige skin tones, often with gold or warm undertones
    • Hazel or light brown eyes
    • Dark blonde or brown hair
    • Little to no freckles
    • Skin typically burns then tans
  • Type 2 Characteristics
    • Fair or pale skin tones
    • Blue, gray or green eyes
    • Naturally blonde
    • Frequently burns, freckles and peels
    • Infrequent tanning
  • Type 1 Characteristics
    • Extremely fair skin, ivory in tone
    • Very light eyes (blue, gray or green)
    • Naturally red or light blonde hair
    • Frequently burns (even without tanning) and peels
    • Cannot tan without irritation


Now that our bases are covered and you’re able to better understand your skin type, it’s time to learn why sunscreen and SPF, or Sun Protection Factor, are important to incorporate in any beauty regimen. SPF is a scale used to rate the level of protection provided by sunscreen, ranging anywhere from 2 to 100. The number correlates to the product’s ability to protect, or screen, the sun’s harmful rays. With consistent daily SPF use, a person can drastically reduce their chances of developing melanoma, a deadly and severe form of skin cancer. Additionally, sunscreen is a powerful tool to help reduce the appearance of visible signs of aging, like fine lines, wrinkles, and dark spots. With proactive and preventative use of SPF, the skin will be protected against photoaging.


Sunscreen, similar to daily moisturizers, come in various formula types, like spray, cream, and gel, making it easy to find the perfect product for you. The number indicated on the product refers to the length of time needed for the sun to impact the skin using the product versus without. As a basic rule of thumb, SPF 15 blocks 93% of UVB rays, while SPF 30 blocks 97% of UVB rays and SPF 50 blocks 98% of UVB rays. These numbers are determined by clinicals trials designed to gauge the product’s effectiveness in protecting the skin. Check out our skin type blog post to learn which product type may be the best for you. Those with dull, dehydrated skin may gravitate towards thicker, cream formulas, while oily skin types may enjoy a refreshing spray formula.


Here are a few LYS-approved tips for taking your protection to the next level:

  • Apply sunscreen daily, even when it is cloudy or overcast
  • Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours
  • For the best results, apply sunscreen 15 to 30 minutes prior to going outside to let the product settle in
  • If wearing makeup, use a spray formula and beauty sponge for reapplication to avoid interfering with your makeup
  • In conjunction with topical serums and creams, use physical protection, like sunglasses, hats, visors, and umbrellas to keep skin protected
  • Avoid being in direct sunlight during peak hours (10 a.m. - 3 p.m.)