Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

This post was written by Renée Rouleau, who is a skin-care expert and celebrity esthetician who has been helping men, women and teens attain healthy, glowing, beautiful skin for more than twenty years.

Her philosophy is simple: With the proper tools, effective products and a disciplined approach, anyone can have great skin.

She provides regular skincare advice and tips on her blog, too!

Renée Rouleau Shares Her Five Favorite Sun Protection Tips

It’s a fact: The #1 reason why the skin shows signs of premature aging (wrinkles, lines, brown spots) is due to sun/daylight exposure, since the UV rays destroys collagen, creates inflammation and negatively alters the DNA of your skin cells. As a skin care expert and esthetician, I am pretty fanatical about avoiding unnecessary exposure to the sun and UV light, both for anti-wrinkle reasons as well as for preventing skin cancer. While some of these practices may seem a little extreme to you, they are tips that I personally live and swear by.

Sun Protection Tip #1: Be aware of daylight coming through windows.

There is a belief that the only time you get sun exposure (and therefore sun damage) is when you are outside. I’m here to say that this is just not true. UV light (that damages your skin) can penetrate windows at any daylight hour. For example, my bedroom has big windows all around it, so I always wake to sunlight (or just daylight on cloudy days) coming through. The moment I wake up, I immediately cover my face with my sheets until I’m ready to get out of bed, since I’m not wearing sunblock. Crazy I know, but every minute counts when it comes to skin protection and as someone who is in a profession where having good skin matters, I take it very seriously. I also have shades on the window in my office to filter out daylight during my working hours.

Sun Protection Tip #2 – Apply sunscreen or sunblock to the entire face, neck and chest – GENEROUSLY.

Did you know that an SPF 30 only protects the skin 4% more than an SPF 15? And as you go up in number, this percentage lowers. The real truth behind sun protection is not the SPF number, but how generously you apply it. Published medical studies have shown that most people apply 1/3 to 1/2 the recommended dose of sunblock. A little dab won’t do ya! First thing in the morning, I apply a thick coat to the face, neck, ears, tops of hands and chest (my exposed areas of skin) for an important defense against the UV rays given off from the sun. Since the skin on my face is oily and acne-prone (I’m a skin type #2 in my nine skin types), and since sunblock should be applied generously, it is so important to find one that is formulated for your skin type and won’t feel greasy or cause breakouts. I use my Daily Protection SPF 30, which gives both UVA and UVB protection and dries to a matte finish on the skin. It works amazing under my makeup since it’s so light–I love it.

Check out three more tips! 

Sun Protection Tip #3 – Get your car windows tinted.

The side and rear car windows do not filter out any damaging UV rays, so consider tinting your car windows. I recently purchased a new car and had my car windows tinted with a special tint that is used on military planes that cuts out 95% of UV rays, yet is not very dark in color. This esthetician means business when it comes to my skin!

Sun Protection Tip #4 – Wear sun protection clothing.

I know it may sound like I live my life in a dark cave–this is hardly the truth! I own a Harley Davidson and spend my free time out on the open road, plus I love running outside when the weather is nice. So to protect my skin from the damaging rays, I purchase special sun protective clothing (light jackets and shirts) to wear when I’m outdoors for long periods of time. Most shirts offer only 5 to 9 SPF whereas sun protective clothing can offer up to an SPF 58. Again, as someone who wants my skin to look its best–every effort to protect my skin adds up through the years. Actress, Nicole Kidman has been known to wear sun protective clothing to protect her skin from the harsh sun in Australia and to keep her freckles under control.

Sun Protection Tip #5 – Apply mineral powder throughout the day.

You’ve always heard how important it is to apply sunblock every 2 hours, yet if you’ve got full makeup on, but this may not be practical. Mineral powders are all the rage these days, and have a natural sunblock built in them (usually a minimum SPF 20). Keep one in your handbag and dust it on your skin throughout the day since direct sunlight, as well as the oils your skin naturally produces can degrade protection. I also dust mine on the tops of my hands since my morning application of sunblock will wash off when I wash my hands.

What about getting Vitamin D from the sun? This is certainly a hot topic and I’ve talked about this many times on my blog and on Twitter.  The American Academy of Dermatology has recently updated its position statement on vitamin D based on the results of a review of the increasing body of scientific literature on this vitamin and the importance for optimal health recently conducted by the National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine (IOM).

The Academy continues to recommend that the public obtain vitamin D from a healthy diet that includes food naturally rich in Vitamin D, foods and beverages fortified with vitamin D, and/or dietary supplements. The Academy reaffirmed its position that vitamin D should not be obtained from the sun or indoor tanning devices, as UV radiation is a known risk factor for the development of skin cancer. The Academy encourages those with concerns about their levels of vitamin D to discuss options for obtaining sufficient dietary or supplementary sources of vitamin D with their physician.

I personally take Vitamin D supplements as well as eat a diet high in Vitamin D, but I am not always diligent about applying SPF to my legs when I run or go for a walk outside (three days a week), so there is still plenty of opportunity for the natural sun’s rays to get on my skin.

Bottom line: Research shows that 78% of all sun damage is from incidental exposure (the times when you think you aren’t exposed, but you are). The truth is every time daylight sees your skin (inside or out, winter or summer), you increase how rapidly your skin will age. So if you want to get really serious about lowering your risk of skin cancer and preventing premature skin aging, practice these tips. You really do have a say in the matter of how your skin will look and act when it’s older, but the choice is yours.

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48 thoughts on “Renee Rouleau Shares Her Five Favorite Sun Protection Tips

  1. Skin protective clothing?! All this time I thought as long as my body was covered by clothes, I’d be protected. I guess that’s not true o.O I’m not quite sure I’ll invest in sun protective clothing…but it’s very interesting!

    I love Renée Rouleau posts! Nobody quite gets me to care about my skin like she and you do ^__^

  2. babette

    Great article. Can anyone recommend a good moisturizer with SPF for combo (leaning to oily) skin?

    • Hi Babette! May I suggest our Daily Protection SPF 30…formulated for oily/acne-prone skin? Do take a look at it, it’s one of our best-selling products!

      • babette

        Thank you, RR. The product gets good reviews, so maybe I will ask a friend to bring it over. The shipping cost to my country = $15.50, ouch. I’m looking for a new moisturizer/sunscreen because seems like I need more protection – have noticed some freckles on my cheekbones – on my medium Asian skin! Very rarely does it happen.

    • Mariella

      Clinique’s Superdefense is good. It comes in 3 different formulations for skin from oily to extra dry. I have one for winter and another for summer, when my skin is oilier.

      • babette

        Once I followed Clinique’s 3 step and my skin was dehydrated like mad. I’m talking about sandpaper kind of dehydration. But maybe I’ll drop by their counter and try out some things. Thank you for the rec.

    • AshD

      @Babette, you should look into Avene Hydrance Optimale UV Light – great for oily skin. My skin is combo but a bit dehydrated so I use Avene Hydrance Optimale UV Riche. these sunscreens are very stable and have the wonderful UVA filter Tinosorb. I also like Clinique Super City Block SPF 40. That said, if you live in Asia then some of the best sunscreens are available that are not available here. I hear L’Oreal UV Perfect with Meroxyl is great.

      • babette

        @AshD Right now I am using KOSE Sekisei/Seikisho line, and it’s good, but contains alcohol and a few other things I don’t like. It hydrates the skin beautifully, but does nothing to control my oil. SK II breaks me out, Shiseido is heavy, and other brands with less popularity than that I prefer not to use – I can’t find their ingredient list, for starters, no matter how good and how cheap I simply won’t know what I’m putting on.

        Avene looks good – bit expensive tho. Oh well. I guess great skin takes a bit of moolah :) Thank you.

  3. Opheliana

    I just have to point out that although _parts_ of UV-light does penetrate a normal window, far from all of it does.
    A normal window lets through wave lengths from 360 nm and up. UV-A light is the wave lengths from 315 to 400 nm, UV-B 280 to 315 nm, UV-C is absorbed by the atmosphere and doesn’t reach us.
    Simplified UV-B makes us burn in the sun and and makes the skin produce new melanin (which is the skins way of getting used to the sun). It is also contains more energy than UV-A, and can be said to be the most dangerous.
    UV-A does not contain very much energy and makes the melanin we already have darker (the skin gets a bit tanned).

    So because parts of the UV-A penetrates the windows, but barely any UV-B, you can tan a little behind a window, but getting a relevant sunburn behind a window is very rare, and DOES NOT make your skin more resistant to sunlight, even if you would get tanned (compare to a fake tan)
    So although not being completely safe behind a window, you are far more safe than you are outside.

    Just thought a bit of the science behind it were in place. But being an extremely pale person who never gets neither a tan or burn, what do I know? 😛

    • The Beauty Queen from Mars

      Being a very pale person who very rarely gets minor burns (outside) and absolutely never tans, plus graduated in Physics, I loved your comment! Thank you for it. I learned about UVA and UVB (and windows) in school, but I forgot ;-P.
      What one should also take into consideration is that every product which contains chemical sunscreen (as opposed to mechanical sunscreen in mineral products) naturally contains more chemicals than non-sunscreen products.
      IMO it is better for the skin to use non-sunscreen products during winter (I life in Germany. Tons of clouds from early October to mid April) and start sunscreen in spring/summer, when sun comes out.
      Of course, living in California or other sun-bathed areas, things are different.

  4. Lisa

    Very interesting article though:)

  5. anonymous

    Tip: To this date darker skin color increases our natural resistance to skin cancer. Melatonin and it’s byproduct vitamin D deficiency have become endemic while they were almost unheard of in the pre-sunscreen era. Low pigmentation/vit D deficiency are linked to cancer, depression, intestinal dysfunction, SAD, and even alcoholism and drug addiction. Many SPF products contain chemicals that are known to be more hazardous than unprotected sun. Absolutely wear sunscreen to avoid burning or protect after acids that strip away the epidermis. But routinely hiding from all sunlight is something even the hardcore sunscreen mfrs are backing away from recommending as evidence mounts that this may be extremely hazardous. You’ll have to dig for the studies but they are available and are reported in medical govt and other publications. Thy industry is very adamant about getting any references to the facts away from the public eye by any means honest, dishonest, threats of legal problem, etc. Once vitamin D deficiency was unheard of for all the the darkest skinned. Now half of all people are deficient, and even the palest of the pale are finding low D levels– a nutrient we need for bones, nerves, fighting infection, etc..

    • Ashley

      Yup. Thumbs up to this. I’ve found articles on the subject dating back over 15 years! Virtually no one in my family wears sunscreen, and only two of them look prematurely aged: my father (a smoker) and my uncle (who is always very very tanned and/or burnt). But then again, almost no one in my immediate family really uses any type of products on their faces besides water, sunscreen when doing long activity outside. And it’s not necessarily a genetics thing, since my aunts and mom were all separately adopted, thus I am only related by blood to my immediate family and relatives on my dad’s side who I don’t see very often. I probably look more prematurely aged than my mom simply due to my skin cleansing history of exfoliating too much and using drying, harsh products.

      I’d much rather wear a large hat and wear clothing that adequately covers my skin when going outside for a long time (ie over an hour or two without getting any shade), and then seek shade when I can, than hide from the sun for ever :/

  6. I think I need to make sure I apply my spf15 to my neck and hands! Interesting article.

  7. MJ

    I absolutely agree that sunscreen is essential, but I believe extremes such as demonstrated in the article are unnecessary. Sun is not evil and is in fact necessary for life. Sunscreens themselves have been shown to cause problems, but that doesn’t mean we stop using them. Just as in most things in life, moderation is best.

    • Julia

      I personally don’t see what’s extreme about this article… she isn’t saying to stay indoors forever, or to avoid going outside when it’s sunny. Sun is obviously necessary for life, but the average amount of sun exposure is MUCH more than the human body needs (not only talking about Vitamin D here).

      Also, I’ve never heard of sunscreens causing problems, but would like to read about it. Do you have a link to a study that I could read? Thanks!

      • AshD

        @ Julia, I think what she means is that chemical sunscreens are often unstable, and cause free radical damage when exposed to light (in Europe this is not usually the case, as their susncreens are more stable and the ones in the U.S.). Also some sunscreen filters absorb into body tissues and we don’t know the long term effects (oxybenzone). Physical sunblocks aren’t much better – most of them are micronized (nano particles) and we don’t know the long term effects of those either – there is some reason to belive they can absorb into the bloodstream because they are so small they don’t stay on top of the skin. Also some studes have shown they cause free radical damaage. Additionally, some sunscreen chemicals (avobenzone) cannot be mixed with common foundation ingredients like titanium dioxide or zinc oxide or they break down. So, sunscreens are very complicated, and some people think the long term effects of coating their bodies in these potentially harmful substances every day, may be worse than light/moderate sun exposure. I don’t know what I believe – I’m still trying to make up my mind!

    • Jessica FB

      MJ I couldn’t have said it better myself! I wear SPF 30 everyday of the year so I do take sun protection seriously but this article is extreme. I have far more important things to worry about in my life then the SPF factor of my clothes. Moderation in everything in life is key.

    • SA

      I agree with MJ. Be sun-smart, but you don’t need to be crazy about it.

    • Annika

      This! No need to be so fanatic that you forget to enjoy life, we only live once :)

    • Kelly

      I agree, although I think sunscreen is important I think this article is WAY over the top

  8. asalet

    Hello, Thank you for the info Renee. My sister is an albino and I was wondering where to purchase sun protective clothing for her? where would one find these? Thanks in advance

  9. Ann

    Thanks for posting the bit about how you pull the sheets over your face before you get out of bed, since the sun comes in your window in the morning.
    I have the same situation, and considering that as we get into the warmer months, I have sunshine streaming through my window from 5:00am onward, I do worry about this sun exposure. We have a light curtain which blocks some of the light, but just judging by how bright it remains – not much.

    Aside from getting up earlier, of putting something over my head (which I do if I wake up – just a clean t-shirt to block the light and make it easier to fall back asleep as well as to protect my skin) do you have any other suggestions? I would be really curious if there are UV blocking curtains which still allow light, but not harmful rays. (Is that possible?)

    I’m not trying to keep all sun off my skin … just off my face, neck, chest and hands. I don’t think these suggestions are extreme if you’re serious about protecting your skin from premature aging. My mom was a sun goddess in her youth, and has had to go to a lot of trouble to try to un-do some of that damage. She looks great now (in her 60’s) but definitely still has sun damage – I’d rather not get the damage in the first place!

    • Elaine

      Honestly, I don’t think you need to worry. The sun that comes in the morning (in australia) is extremely weak – barely any UV. I’d only be concerned if you were lying in between 10am-2pm.

      However, I live in Australia (where there are billions of campaigns about skin cancer) and I think this advice is extreme. So we may have differing opinions about this!

  10. Kayvid

    I love me some sunscreen. I’m interested in Renee’s Sunscreen, does anyone know what is the PPD of it? (UVA protection factor)

    • AshD

      @ Kayvid – I tried the Renee Rouleau sunscreen and liked it, but stopped using it because the PPD was low – around 6. I like to use one with at least 10. You can find charts on how to calculate PPDs. I found mine on but can’t remember where. I do know that the amound of zinc oxide must be quite high to have good UVA protection. This one only has 7%. Renee, if you are reading this, I would LOVE if you could make a higher PPD (UVA) protective sunscreen with more zinc oxide – maybe around 14% zinc oxide, along with safe chemical UVB blockers which you already have :). I loved the texture of your sunscreen!

  11. AnaA

    I always get the feel that these posts are interesting to read, but they don’t go any further than that. The tips are way over the budget for normal people and the ones that aren’t are common knowledge.

    Still, it’s interesting to know how I could protect my skin if I won the lottery.

    • Kelly C.

      Agreed. These articles always feel so over-the-top, with borderline crazy advice.

  12. Which mineral powder would you recommend? I want something un-tinted. Thanks.

  13. NeenaJ

    Interesting read. I’m fair skinned and burn easily, so I wear SPF 55 on my face and neck everyday. If I’m planning to be outside for a good portion of the day, I’ll add SPF 30 to my arms and hands and sometimes my legs.

    I’ve seen the protective clothing and know at least one fair skinned friend (who resides in Florida and has already had a melanoma removed) who wears it when she’s planning to be out in the sun all day. I think it’s a great option for those of us who love to be outdoors but cannot tolerate all day sun exposure. The best selection I’ve seen is from I purchased colorescience’s sunscreen powder from them.

    As for the windows, I think I would just draw the curtains rather than have my first thought of each day be “quick, hide!”.

  14. Regina

    I wear sunscreen every day and avoid unnecessary sun exposure but each day I spend an average of 3 hours driving. So I get a lot of sun exposure while in traffic that I can not hide from. Tinting my car windows is not an option because as far as I know it is illegal where I live (Sunny SoCal). Driving without tinted windows is really uncomfortable for me. While driving, the skin on the left side of my face and neck and my left arm get really hot just from the sunlight passing trough the car side window and afterward the exposed skin hurts a lot specially my left arm which is darker than the rest of my body.

  15. Eva

    Great post! As I have gotten older, I have learned to embrace my paleness. After all being pale is/was a sign of wealth in some cultures! I just wanted to point out that Vitamin D is crucial to the body for the absorption of calcium. Because of this, I take Viactiv chews twice a day. They contain D, K and calcium. It’s like a health cocktail!

    I do have a question though, can anyone suggest a great mineral powder with sunscreen? Maybe something that also photographs well? I don’t want to look ashy in all my summer photos :-)

  16. Jade

    Wow! Someones got too much time on their hands! Renee should be careful that she doesnt develop a vitamin d deficiency, it’s all very well having young looking skin but you don’t want rickets. Seriously though, the bit about covering her face in the morning made me chuckle. Thanks for the product advertising though.

  17. Jade

    Oh, but also, just got to say, I love you Christine! When I’m buying cosmetics I allways check your reviews first, thanks for stopping me making the mistake of buying limecrime lipsticks you have my gratitude!!

  18. Mariella

    I’m fairly fanatical about sun protection but, honestly – covering your face with a sheet when you get out of bed is more than a little over the top (heck, what if you fall and break your leg and the ambulance people carry you out on a stretcher and you’re exposed to sunlight???).

  19. AnGeLwInGz

    If human beings were meant to be that protected from the sun we’d be nocturnal. Anyway, tinted car windows are illegal where I live and I’m allergic to both sunscreen and mineral makeup so there!

  20. The word NEUROTIC comes to mind…

  21. Andrea

    Great tips, but a bit excessive IMO.

  22. Melissa C.

    I want to see where Ms. Rouleau got her information from, because from what I’ve read, most of our vitamin D comes from sun exposure and very little comes from food.

  23. Saffy

    This is a great article, I’m glad I read it!

  24. Janie

    I don’t think this is extreme at all – I think Renee was sort of poking fun at herself in the beginning but her face is her asset in her business. Nobody wants to take skincare advice from someone who has bad skin! I saw a lot of comments putting down protective clothing but if you actually read her tip and context she said when she is outdoors for long periods of time like biking.

  25. Stephanie

    WOW… I understand sunscreen, even protective clothing but hiding from the sun in the morning?! IMO thats a wee bit over the top for most people. I cant imagine how weirded out your significant other was when you first spent the night and hid from the sun in the morning LOL! I would have sworn i had just slept with a vampire if my SO did that! LOL I understand trying to avoid looking like an old shoe at age 40 but wrinkles and lines are a part of life! They show that you have spent your life living, laughing, and enjoying instead of rubbing on creams and pondering how to avoid the sun!

  26. I’m not a fanatic or anything (and I’m darker skinned, but) does anyone know of a great sunblock I can bring with me to Basic Training? I leave in 12 days and (although I’m dark,) I don’t want to damage my skin too much. I’m afraid of wrinkles even thought my parents are in their late 40’s and look like they’re in their late 20’s.

  27. Ann

    I didn’t think the hiding your face from the sun in the morning bit meant “for five minutes until I get out of bed” I thought it meant more like “if I wake up an hour or two early and my face is in sunlight”.

  28. msaaaa

    They say you can get lines from worrying and obsessing over things too you know…

  29. I agree that some of these tips are great but covering your face straight away when the sun hits it in the morning and getting tinted windows? After living in England for 15 years where the it is overcast and grey a lot of the time I can say hand on heart that I miss the sunshine. We need it and yes slathering yourself in oil and baking in it is a sure fire way to do damage. But I also personally think that without some exposure to the sun you will go crazy. If that means I have a few more wrinkles when I’m older fine, I’d rather be wrinkly and sane, than a smooth skinned basket case!