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As lake dwellers, we’ve all experienced a painful sunburn. While it’s no big deal to treat most sunburns at home with moisturizer and aloe vera, it’s best to reduce your burns because chronic, unprotected sun exposure can be dangerous. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. To highlight the importance of sun protection on the lake, we’re launching a four-part blog series on this topic, beginning with a spotlight on sunscreen. To learn more about using sunscreen properly at the lake, we connected with Dr. Rina Allawh at Montgomery Dermatology near Philadelphia, PA, and Dr. Todd Minars from Minars Dermatology in Hollywood, FL. These dermatologists lent us their expert advice on the essentials of sun protection for lake lovers like us. 

What is SPF?

We’ve all seen this acronym on sunscreen bottles, but do we really know what it means? First, SPF stands for Sun Protective Factor, and it measures a product’s degree of protection against the sun’s harmful UV rays. There are two types of UV — UVA rays which penetrate deeper and cause the skin to age and UVB rays that are surface-level and cause the skin to burn. To filter out this harmful light, SPF was created. It’s available in two broad categories: chemical and physical. While chemical sunscreens contain organic compounds that absorb UV rays when they enter the skin, physical sunscreens include mineral compounds which sit on top of the skin and scatter and reflect UV rays. Both have costs and benefits. Recent studies suggest that some chemical sunscreen can be absorbed into the blood, but Dr. Allawh clarifies that there are currently no studies linking sunscreen to cancer. Regardless of which type of sunscreen you choose, the most crucial factor is simply using it. Dr. Minars emphasizes this importance: “Quite literally, applying sunscreen with SPF is the best anti-aging and skin care preventative step a person can take.”

What SPF Should I Use?

Dr. Allawh’s patients frequently ask her whether a high-numbered SPF is better. The answer depends less on the SPF and more on one’s application. She comments, “Many individuals purchase a higher SPF in hopes that they don’t have to reapply. In reality, a high-number SPF does not mean you can spend additional time outdoors unprotected. Reapplication is essential, especially after being in the water.” Although a higher SPF number does not protect your skin longer, it does have slightly more coverage from the sun’s UVB rays. For instance, SPF 30 blocks 97% of these rays, and higher numbers will provide 98% coverage and above. However, Dr. Allawh adds, “No sunscreen, in reality, can block 100% of the sun’s rays.” Finally, when picking out a sunscreen, make sure that the term “broad spectrum” is on the label, demonstrating that it protects against both UVA and UVB rays. And don’t forget to check the expiration date!

How Much Should I Apply?

Dr. Allawh recommends applying a nickel-sized amount of sunscreen to the entire face daily. If you’re spending time outside on the lake, she recommends applying one shot glass amount of sunscreen to your exposed skin. Although it’s a common practice to only reach for the sunscreen when it’s sunny outside, it’s just as important to wear SPF on cloudy or overcast days. Especially between the hours of 10am-2pm, the sun’s rays are exceptionally strong, and it’s critical to apply the recommended amount of SPF. Dr. Allawh says, “a helpful tip I recommend to my patients: When your shadow is shorter than you are… seek shade!” 

What Products Should I Use?

Photo courtesy of Prevention.com.

The answer to this question depends on your skin features and whether your goal is repair or protection. For everyday use, while lounging on your boat dock, Dr. Minars suggests a rub-on SPF sunscreen like Neutrogena Beach Defense. Its 80-minute water resistance is ideal for lake environments. If your skin is sensitive or acne-prone, Dr. Allawh suggests products that are light and non-comedogenic (meaning they won’t block your pores) such as Elta MD UV ClearLaRoche Posay Anthelios, and Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry Touch. She notes that “they have a nice buildable texture which is ideal for applying before any make-up.” If you’ve already accumulated skin damage from years enjoying the sun, it isn’t too late. Dr. Minars recommends AlphaRet cream products from Skinbetter Science for skin repair. Although this product is less potent than a dermatologist’s prescription, their key ingredients of retinoid and lactic acid rejuvenate and repair the skin. 

In the coming weeks, keep an eye out for more blog posts in our Sun Protection Series. For now, apply some sunscreen and get outdoors!

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During the pandemic, many buyers are anticipating finding a “good deal” on a lake house. However, Glenn Phillips, Lake Homes CEO, gives us three reasons why this is not likely. Foreclosures are rare due to majority cash transactions, and the new stimulus laws protect against foreclosures. Further, lake homes are currently in high demand as popular social distancing destinations. Besides the rare possibility of AirBnb and VRBO owners selling their properties due to less travel, you’re unlikely to find a good deal right now. That said, if you’re ready to buy, contact one of our lake agents with local expertise at to help you out. 

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Top 3 Fabric Trends of 2020– And How They Reflect Lake Living

May 26, 2020

While spending more time inside during the quarantine, perhaps you’ve considered redecorating a room in your lake house. After all, if you’re going to be home all day, you might as well enjoy your surroundings. A vital element of any room’s decor is fabric choice. From upholstery to pillowcases, a well-selected fabric has the power […]

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A Guide to Plant Hardiness at Your Lake Home: Zones 1-3

May 21, 2020

If you have a garden at your lake house, you’re probably familiar with the Plant Hardiness Zones. Designed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, this guide separates the country into zones based on average annual minimum winter temperature. Each zone is split by 10 degrees and has its unique features, such as the first and […]

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Whiteboard Topics: 5 Reasons It’s a Good Time to Sell Your Lake Home

May 20, 2020

During the pandemic, many lake homeowners are concerned about their investment. If you aren’t using your lake home anymore, is now the right time to sell? Glenn Phillips, Lake Homes CEO, answers this question. Due to the market’s price peak, high buyer demand, limited appropriately priced inventory, and low mortgage rates, now is actually one […]

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Dog-Friendly Hiking Trails Around Chattanooga, TN

May 14, 2020

There’s nothing like taking to the trails to enjoy the thrill of a hike with beautiful lakeside views, but why not make it more special by bringing your favorite companion along for the walk? For dog-lovers all around, it may be difficult to find spots for adventure with your four-legged friend, so we’ve done the […]

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Whiteboard Topics: Lake Home Selling Myths

May 13, 2020

Lake Homes Realty CEO, Glenn Phillips, discusses five myths about selling a lake home. While there are many similarities between selling a lake home and a primary residential home, there are key differences. For lake homes, these include the higher percentage of out of town buyers, the impracticality of open houses, unusual aspects that break […]

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Watch Your Waste: 5 Tips on Cooking with Leftovers

May 12, 2020

We’re all guilty of food waste from time to time. Between those take-out leftovers we forgot in the fridge and bread that went stale, it’s sometimes easier to toss out what we deem as “gone bad” than to repurpose it. Especially if your lake house is a second home, it can be difficult to remember […]

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From Manhattan to Muscle Shoals: A Story of Self-Quarantining at the Lake

May 8, 2020

Like anyone who grew up in the American South, I’ve sung along to the classic “Wagon Wheel” countless times– in my kitchen alone, at a bar where a cover band is playing, and at karaoke with friends attempting to harmonize to the chorus. But if you’d told me that I’d be listening to this song […]

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How to Remove Mold From Your Outdoor Furniture

May 6, 2020

When you own outdoor furniture at your lake home, you can enjoy nature from the comfort of a plush cushion and a curved backrest. With the right chaise lounge, admiring your lakefront view from your boat dock and enjoying a spring breeze never gets old. However, as any lake homeowner knows, being immersed in nature […]

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