Indispensable Sunscreen Tips

Sun setting
Ian & Andrea Treleaven

This is the second part of a three-article series on sailors and the sun

Dr. Steve Horwitz has been an active PHRF, Lightning and Etchells sailor for quite awhile. While most sailors on Biscayne Bay are used to seeing him at the helm of Widespread Panic, he crewed for years before he became a dermatologist.

'I used to wear this sunscreen that would discolor the decks of every boat I sailed on. I wore it because I have pretty fair skin and I just hated the feeling of getting a sunburn,' said Horwitz before he recited his indispensable tenets of sun protection (I’ve added the rhyme).

1. From 10 am to 3 pm are peak UV hours. Avoid them with all of your power. This is obviously a problem for sailors, which is why 2 through 4 must be strictly followed.

2. If out between dawn and dusk, applying sunscreen is a must. Even if not sunbathing or sailing the sun you must not trust

3. Put sunscreen on a half- hour before you leave the house. If you wait, it could be too late.

4. Make sure your skin is dry before you apply.

5. Always wear a hat to cover you head. It doesn’t have to be Mount Gay red.

6. Long sleeved shirts are the answer for protecting your forearms from more skin cancers.

7. Always cover the tops of your feet; it’s dangerous for them to turn red as a beet.

The SPF (sun protection factor) is a calculated number indicating the time a person with sunscreen applied can be exposed to sunlight before getting sunburn relative to the time a person without sunscreen can be exposed. In theory, an SPF of 15 will protect the average person for a seven-hour day. The SPF value is not the only measure to select a sunscreen (see below).

Sunscreens that are effective on some people may not be effective on others.

Dr. Horwitz recommends the following for determining what sunscreen works best for you.

1. Wear sun protection that keeps you from getting sunburned. If your skin is pink or red a in the evening after you come in out of the sun or the following day, you either did not apply your sunscreen properly or you did not wear the right sunscreen for you. Keep trying sunscreens until you find the one that works for you.

2. Select a sunscreen that is cosmetically bearable and that you don’t mind putting on your skin. If you are going to think twice about applying a sunscreen that will make your skin appear white, yellow or greasy, don’t purchase it. Purchase a sunscreen that you will not hesitate to wear, and wear it religiously and apply liberally.

3. Wear sunscreen. Don’t use the excuse that it stings your eyes. If you can’t find a sunscreen that doesn’t sting your eyes, then start applying your sunscreen differently. Do what Dr. Horwitz does; apply sunscreen on your face, including your nose, ears and under the eyes and wear a hat. The hat will keep the sun off of your scalp and your forehead.

About Dr. Steve Horwitz

Dr. Steve Horwitz is a Miami Beach native and has been practicing dermatology for over three decades. His practice, Horwitz Dermatology is located in Miami, Florida. Dr. Horwitz has provided complementary screenings to all regatta participants of numerous Lightning and Etchells regattas, including the 2003 Lightning Worlds, the Lightning North Americans and Etchells Mid-Winters. The invaluable screenings take 2-3 minutes and are painless.

This article courtesy of