Sun Strategies

Follow these sun-safe tips from a Twin Cities dermatologist and you’ll be made in the shade.

Wear sunscreen. It’s practically a law, yet doctors and dermatologists still find themselves seeing and treating all the signs of sun worship: leathery skin, liver spots, wrinkles, precancerous spots, and full-blown cancer. According to Dr. Charles Crutchfield of Crutchfield Dermatology in Eagan, you must always “be sun smart and sun-protected,” no matter the time of day, season, or weather. That means sunscreens and skin checks. “If you notice a mole changing—size, color, or shape—or a spot that bleeds and does not heal for three weeks, you should definitely see a dermatologist,” Crutchfield says.

“One of the dictums I give my patients is, ‘See spot, see spot change, see me.’ If you catch skin cancer early, it’s almost 100-percent treatable.” 1185 Town Centre Dr., Suite 101, Eagan, 651-209-3600,


It seems like we should all know this by now, but based on skin cancer rates and the sun damage doctors and dermatologists see, we don’t: You need to wear sunscreen every day. No exceptions. “Put sunscreen on 30 minutes before you go outside because it takes 20 minutes for the sunscreen to set up and start to perform an adequate barrier,” Crutchfield says. Reapply every 60 minutes, or more often if you are perspiring or swimming. You must use a sunscreen that has UVA and UVB protection. “UVB is the wavelength that predominantly causes burns, and that is what the SPF means. UVA protection, which doesn’t have an SPF, still needs to be included, because UVA is responsible for the signs of aging, such as brown spots, wrinkles, and skin cancer,” he says. Crutchfield recommends SPF of 30 or higher. (Tip: Make sure your daily moisturizer has SPF—it’s an easy one-step routine post-shower.)


According to Crutchfield, there’s simply “no such thing as a safe tan,” whether from the sun or tanning beds. But there is one way to get that slimming, energizing glow without submitting to harmful rays, says Crutchfield. Spray tans and self-tanners are the way to go. “The active ingredient, dihydroxyacetone, is perfectly safe,” he says. “In fact, for patients who desire a tan look, this is the treatment of choice.” Self tanner does come with a risk of orange skin or a streaky finish when applied solo. But SolSkin Studios in Minneapolis will bring its mobile tanning service to you and apply a customized airbrush tan. Plus, their solution is made with organic, paraben-free ingredients. 612-840-7376.


Here’s the good news for sun worshipers looking to reform their ways: “You can really make a huge rejuvenating effect with your skin,” says Crutchfield. Alpha-hydroxy acid treatments have been administered for years, but there’s also a “newer, natural treatment” called Selphyl, in which “your own growth factors and cytokines are injected into your skin for a remarkable rejuvenating response.” Results are measured by before-and-after photos taken by an ultraviolet camera. “You can make a big difference in turning back the clock with respect to skin damage,” he says.