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Photo By Sherie Char

8 Tips for sun protection in Hawaii

After seeing too many people spoil their Hawaii vacations by getting too much of our sun too fast, we asked well-respected Honolulu dermatologist Dr. Carla Nip-Sakamoto for her top 8 recommendations on protecting yourself from the sun. Here's what she said. 

  1. Use the proper sunscreen. Find one with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30. “Ingredients to look for are zinc oxide (6 percent or more), titanium dioxide and avobenzone, with a stabilizing molecule such as helioplex.”  (Editor's note: If you're going swimming in the ocean, though, please be sure you're using reef-safe sunscreen to help protect our wildlife. Avoid sunscreens that contain the following: Oxybenzone, Butylparaben, Octinoxate, 4-Methylbenzylidine Camphor.)
     
  2. Put sunscreen on right. And don’t wait until you’re at the beach. “If you do that, you’re not allowing enough time to let the sunscreen bind to your skin cells.” Apply at least one ounce of sunscreen at least 30 minutes prior to outdoor activities. Reapply every two hours—more frequently if you’re swimming or sweating.
     
  3. Put enough on. A full ounce of sunscreen is recommended.
     
  4. Wear a hat with a three- to four-inch brim. Baseball caps only provide partial protection. “It won’t protect your neck and ears … common areas where skin cancer develops. Another place people forget about is the top of the feet. We’ve taken a fair number of cancers off of people’s feet.”
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  5. Wear protective clothing. Darker colors provide better protection than light ones. Also, UV radiation can still pass through small holes in a fabric’s weave, so wear clothes with a tighter weave.
     
  6. Don’t count on just a beach umbrella. “You’ll get burnt because the sun reflects off the sand.” 
     
  7. Protect your eyes with UV-blocking sunglasses. You’ll want a pair that blocks 99 percent to 100 percent UVA and UVB radiation. 
     
  8. Find trees that have dense leaves and branches. But use sunscreen, even in shade. The sun can still shine through the leaves.