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Sun Exposure: What You Wish You Knew Then

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Sun Exposure: What You Wish You Knew Then

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Old 05-12-18, 04:02 PM
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Sun Exposure: What You Wish You Knew Then

Yesterday a 70-something friend of mine (cyclist, golfer) was sharing that he'd had a squamous cell carcinoma cut off his lip area. Happily, the scarring is pretty hard to see. Thinking about this, and other older friends who regularly visit their dermatologist, do their Curaderm treatments, and so forth, got me thinking: I am truly 50-something, what should I be learning from my 70-something friends? I've tried various sunscreen creams and pretty much won't use them for a variety of reasons. I'd rather wear sun sleeves and something to shield my neck than slather oily stuff all over.

What's your anti-skin-cancer routine? When does one start including regular dermatologist visits into the health program? What do you know now that you wish you knew then regarding sun damage?
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Old 05-12-18, 04:23 PM
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I'm 55 and wish I had heeded the advice of using sunscreen. I'm dark complected and that helps but I also have some freckles that kinda look more like age spots now.
I use sun screen cream on my face/cheeks and nose but I use sunscreen spray for my arms and legs. And I use it Every time I ride.
I've only been sunburned to the point of peeling skin only twice that I can remember. Once when I was about 6 or 7 years old I spent all day at the pool and didn't even know sunscreen existed. The second time was on my 50th birthday and I completed the St. Croix half Ironman.

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Old 05-12-18, 06:18 PM
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SPF15 Aquaphor on my lips before every ride now, after several sunburns and the split lips that come with them. Am also actively trying to force myself to wear sun sleeves on sunny days, because I hate sunscreen so much. The sunscreen makes me even hotter and sweatier than I would be ordinarily, so the sun sleeves are a less-worse option... maybe. For the face, grow a beard! It works. Keeps the sun off, keeps you cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. I saw a video where Dan Craven claimed the beard was his speed secret. So if the beard makes me faster, just that much better.
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Old 05-12-18, 06:35 PM
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I had one hacked off my hand at age 46. Fortunately it hasn't come back. It is a bit more scary than the basal-cell version, as about 10% go metastatic. It has made me quite paranoid. I use long-sleave jerseys, and head protection, and try to avoid peak-UV (the hours centered at 1pm), and choose shady routes for rides when possible. I also use sunblock when I can't use a physical screen like clothing, but sunblock has its own set of problems.

Squamous is the most common form for black people, BTW. Pigment won't help you dodge this one. The other thing that bugs me is it was in a place that presumably was protected by my bike glove.

I use one of these now:



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Old 05-12-18, 06:50 PM
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Originally Posted by ZippyThePinhead View Post
Yesterday a 70-something friend of mine (cyclist, golfer) was sharing that he'd had a squamous cell carcinoma cut off his lip area. Happily, the scarring is pretty hard to see. Thinking about this, and other older friends who regularly visit their dermatologist, do their Curaderm treatments, and so forth, got me thinking: I am truly 50-something, what should I be learning from my 70-something friends? I've tried various sunscreen creams and pretty much won't use them for a variety of reasons. I'd rather wear sun sleeves and something to shield my neck than slather oily stuff all over.

What's your anti-skin-cancer routine? When does one start including regular dermatologist visits into the health program? What do you know now that you wish you knew then regarding sun damage?
Something to look for....I just noticed it 2 years ago...

I haven't changed my latitude or elevation...but I tan THROUGH cycling jerseys in summer now. I don't know if newer jerseys are more UV transparent, or if the UV is getting worse historically. All I do know is that starting two years ago I was getting bibstrap tan through my jerseys on my back. NOTE I don't ride at peak sunlight/UV now and I didn't back then either. Sunsleeves are great....but check your back, your arms might be covered but your back might not be adequately covered. I wear long-sleeve baselayers riding during daylight now as a result.


I too have seen too many older cyclists with skin baked like dried leather from not being protected.
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Old 05-12-18, 07:02 PM
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SPF 15 on my arms every daytime ride. Probably should do more. Maybe I will now. WG - that is one top-notch sweat cap.
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Old 05-12-18, 07:31 PM
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Originally Posted by wgscott View Post
I had one hacked off my hand at age 46. Fortunately it hasn't come back.
About a decade ago I had something taken off my arm with some liquid nitrogen, but the GP was quite nonchalant about it, apparently unconcerned that it was cancerous.

I looked at that Halo cap on Amazon, and was wondering how it does with sweat, dirt, and wind. At present I am using a folded-up cotton bandana for sweat-- works great, like $2 at REI a decade ago, still using it-- but I don't wash it after every ride. How about that cap? Does it really cover the back of the neck adequately, in spite of wind? How often are you washing it?

Originally Posted by Marcus_Ti View Post
Something to look for....I just noticed it 2 years ago...

I haven't changed my latitude or elevation...but I tan THROUGH cycling jerseys in summer now. I don't know if newer jerseys are more UV transparent, or if the UV is getting worse historically. All I do know is that starting two years ago I was getting bibstrap tan through my jerseys on my back. NOTE I don't ride at peak sunlight/UV now and I didn't back then either. Sunsleeves are great....but check your back, your arms might be covered but your back might not be adequately covered. I wear long-sleeve baselayers riding during daylight now as a result.
I wear a short-sleeved or a sleeveless baselayer whenever I ride, so I've had no under-jersey tanning that I am aware of.
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Old 05-12-18, 07:35 PM
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I usually wash it once or twice a week when I am wearing it every day. It doesn't get soaking wet or anything like that. Santa Cruz is a bit cooler compared to OC, but more humid. The sweat band component does work. I also got mine on Amazon. BTW it holds up quite well. It covers my neck and the sides of my face quite well. The helmet straps help to keep it in place.
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Old 05-12-18, 10:04 PM
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Look at Bob Roll, advocating for the sunscreen:

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Old 05-13-18, 02:47 AM
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Hmmm....

Well, I do have a pretty full-on "Farmer's Tan"

I tried wearing shorts a bit last year, even on century rides. My legs remained pasty white. Not even a faint tan line. Nor a burn. Pasty white legs.

I think I must have killed off all the melanocytes in the legs from disuse.
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Old 05-13-18, 06:26 AM
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I apply 30 SPF before each ride, sunny or cloudy. I have been doing this for decades without sunburn problems, including 20 years when I was an avid windsurfer and was out on the water a lot. I wish there was sunscreen when I was a kid. Instead we had burn and peel, and for the truly zany, coconut oil sun enhancers. About 10 years ago my dermatologist had me apply a topical chemotherapy agent to my face to get rid of precancerous keratoses that could lead to more problematic cancers. I didn't fully understand the "iceberg effect" of non-visible keratoses. After two weeks I looked like a pizza covered with handfuls of partially thawed hamburger meat. It was incredibly itchy for a week or so until it all slewed off. I posted a photo on Facebook as a cautionary tale about the importance of sunscreen for my young relatives.
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Old 05-13-18, 08:09 AM
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I wish my 18 year old self hadn't been so stupid about refusing to use sunscreen and getting a sunburn severe enough to cause half dollar size water blisters all over my chest, shoulders, and back. I've had so many suspicious things removed by the dermatologists over the years.

The most concerning ones were the basal cell carcinoma along my jawline and what was either a spitz nevus (usually only found in young people) or melanoma on my thigh. I have a significant scar on my thigh from removing the margins but no reoccurrence, thankfully. I go for a full body skin check every year. All my outdoor activities involve liberal and frequent application of SPF 50. I just ordered some sun sleeves to try but I'm not sure how well they will work for me in our hot and humid summer weather.
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Old 05-13-18, 08:20 AM
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Driving a car with the window open, in California is also sun exposure ,
at 68+ a basal cell melanoma has become an issue , on my left temple..
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Old 05-13-18, 08:48 AM
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Originally Posted by GadgetGirlIL View Post
I wish my 18 year old self hadn't been so stupid about refusing to use sunscreen and getting a sunburn severe enough to cause half dollar size water blisters all over my chest, shoulders, and back. I've had so many suspicious things removed by the dermatologists over the years.

The most concerning ones were the basal cell carcinoma along my jawline and what was either a spitz nevus (usually only found in young people) or melanoma on my thigh. I have a significant scar on my thigh from removing the margins but no reoccurrence, thankfully. I go for a full body skin check every year. All my outdoor activities involve liberal and frequent application of SPF 50. I just ordered some sun sleeves to try but I'm not sure how well they will work for me in our hot and humid summer weather.
Sun sleeves less uncomfortable than SPF50-80 here in the Great Plains with our 95F summers with 80F dewpoints and 95% humidity.
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Old 05-18-18, 10:07 AM
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Originally Posted by Marcus_Ti View Post
Something to look for....I just noticed it 2 years ago...

I haven't changed my latitude or elevation...but I tan THROUGH cycling jerseys in summer now. I don't know if newer jerseys are more UV transparent, or if the UV is getting worse historically. ...
Because of the damage we did to the ozone layer with CFCs, the UV to which we are exposed did get more intense through the 1980s, leveling off through the 1990s and 2000s, and is just now starting to decrease back toward historical norms. My freckled Celtic/Scandinavian "redhead skin" keeps me from taking long rides spanning the peak sunlight hours of the day. I like to go out shortly after dawn, when traffic is still light and solar radiation is not yet intense, and return in 2 or 3 hours. I completed a 12-hour double century (4 am to 4 pm) in 1972, but I would not attempt one now without rethinking my entire sun protection strategy.
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Old 05-18-18, 12:08 PM
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Most of the damage done is just that, "done". In other words, my damage was done back in my teens and twenty's, having suffered multiple blistering sunburns during that time and before there was anything known as "sunscreen". Had a significant squamous cell taken off my right calf a few years ago, leaving a 2 1/2" scar. All I can do at this point is prevent further damage as much as possible, and see my dermatologist at least once a year (been going twice a year, just last week she said lets do once per and monitor yourself).
I wear a sunscreen daily on my face, per Dermatologist's recommendation. I use men's Neutrogena (after shave) soothing face lotion with a SPF of 20.

When I head out on the bike I wear 40 or 50 stuff and carry a small tube for reapplying. Also, wear a thin headband to keep sunscreen laden sweat out of the eyes, and I wear sun sleeves. I put the suncreen on pretty thick on the neck regions that aren't covered and legs, particularly front of thighs and on the calf areas.

To the OP, re: Oily or Greasy. Get some Neutrogena lotion sunscreen. Not greasy at all & besides, you're going to shower it all off after your ride. Now some claim that the chemicals in sunscreen may be harmful. Sigh...pick your poison, no one's getting out of here alive anyway.

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Old 05-18-18, 02:37 PM
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I have what is a persistent bib-shaped tanline on my back, where the sun apparently goes right through most of my jerseys. But I'm not gonna start putting sunblock all over myself because of it.
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Old 05-18-18, 06:08 PM
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I (as did the rest of you, I assume) grew up at a time when a tan was considered "healthy."

What I wish I knew then:

1. Get out of the sun. I was a SoCal surfer in the 70s-80s, and trust me ... I got a LOT of Sun. Waterproof sunscreens weren't commonly available. I might also add that staring into the sun without sunglasses (how do you do otherwise while surfing?) isn't particularly good for the eyes either.

2. All sunscreens are not created equal. There is evidence that the chemicals in many sunscreens may increase your risk of skin cancer to the point where they more than offset the risk. It is thought that may be at least the reasons there is little correlation between sunscreen use and skin cancer. The other is the notion (probably correct) that people who get more sun are more apt to use sunscreen. The best sunscreens are the mineral ones (zinc and titanium), and the best of those use micro particles instead of nano particles. I didn't use Zn based sunscreens, so whenever I did use sunscreen, I'm not so sure I wasn't doing more harm than good.

3. Skin cancer can happen anywhere, even where the sun don't shine. Bob Marley (half black and half Dutch, I believe) got skin cancer under the toenail on his big toe. He thought it was a bruise from playing soccer. :-o

I have olive skin and don't burn easily. The older I get, the more I appreciate that stroke of genetic luck. I've never had a blistering sunburn or anything nearly that serious. I hadn't been to a dermatologist for a looksee in at least 10 years and when I finally went for a check, the dermatologist found nothing even remotely worrisome.

So now that I know what I know, I use mineral based sunscreens. If I were of different ethnicity, you can bet I would be using skins or other ways to reduce my exposure.

SOME Sun is actually beneficial. GPs recommend 15 minutes of daily sunshine for the average person (sun sensitive people need less). What does that mean if you are using an SPF50 sunscreen (e.g. does that mean that with the sunscreen, you should spend 15*50 minutes in the sun)? I doubt it, but I don't know.
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Old 05-19-18, 04:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Biker395 View Post
The best sunscreens are the mineral ones (zinc and titanium), and the best of those use micro particles instead of nano particles. I didn't use Zn based sunscreens, so whenever I did use sunscreen, I'm not so sure I wasn't doing more harm than good.

[...]

So now that I know what I know, I use mineral based sunscreens.
Here's what Consumer Reports just said about mineral-based sunscreens (e.g. zinc, titanium):

"The authors say that over the years of Consumer Reports testing, sunscreens labeled "natural" or "mineral" that contain only titanium dioxide, zinc oxide or both as active ingredients, have tended to perform worse than those that have chemical active ingredients, such as avobenzone. No mineral sunscreens made Consumer Reports' list of recommendations this year."

You can read the full report at: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/consume...reens-of-2018/

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Old 05-19-18, 08:58 AM
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Originally Posted by welshTerrier2 View Post
Here's what Consumer Reports just said about mineral-based sunscreens (e.g. zinc, titanium):

"The authors say that over the years of Consumer Reports testing, sunscreens labeled "natural" or "mineral" that contain only titanium dioxide, zinc oxide or both as active ingredients, have tended to perform worse than those that have chemical active ingredients, such as avobenzone. No mineral sunscreens made Consumer Reports' list of recommendations this year."

You can read the full report at: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/consume...reens-of-2018/

Interesting. I hadn't seen that.

Putting my critical reading hat on, CR's conclusion depends entirely on the characteristics it uses to judge which it recommends and which it does not. It looks like in their view, the higher the SPFin UVB and UVA, the better. So, variability in the SPF below the advertised value merits a poor rating, as does a lower SPF.

I'm not so sure. Suppose a sunscreen has an SPF of 50 (like the one I use) and it received a poor rating (actual SPF 50% of labeled SPF). If it's actual SPF is only half of that (SPF25), it means I'm getting 1/25 of the exposure I would have received without sunscreen. That would mean that if I were in the sun 8 hours, I would get about 20 minutes of unprotected exposure ... right about what GPs recommend. Yet, that sunscreen would get a poor rating.

At the same time, there are studies questioning the safety of at least some of the ingredients used in the chemical sunscreens. Here is an article with links to the studies showing the problems with the ingredients:

https://www.ewg.org/sunscreen/report.../#.WwA4X0gvzIU

So you makes your choices and takes your chances. The mineral sunscreens work best for me,so I'm sticking with them.

Good info though ...thanks!
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Old 05-19-18, 11:39 AM
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Originally Posted by WNCGoater View Post
Most of the damage done is just that, "done". In other words, my damage was done back in my teens and twenty's, having suffered multiple blistering sunburns during that time and before there was anything known as "sunscreen". Had a significant squamous cell taken off my right calf a few years ago, leaving a 2 1/2" scar. All I can do at this point is prevent further damage as much as possible, and see my dermatologist at least once a year (been going twice a year, just last week she said lets do once per and monitor yourself).
I wear a sunscreen daily on my face, per Dermatologist's recommendation. I use men's Neutrogena (after shave) soothing face lotion with a SPF of 20.
Same here... some bad sunburns when I was younger, but even recently, I've done some longer rides that extended into the early afternoon and got a little sunburn on my neck and arms. Regarding the squamous cell carcinoma you had removed, can you give some additional details? For example, is there any family history of siblings or parents dealing with the same issue? Were you already making regular dermatologist visits before it was detected, or was this what prompted the regular dermatologist visits? Who noticed it at first, you or the doctor?

In my own case I'm not aware of any family history of skin cancer, but I do see my GP a couple of times each year-- not looking for skin cancer, at least not yet-- but the next time I see him I will ask about a couple of spots and see what's next.

Originally Posted by WNCGoater View Post
When I head out on the bike I wear 40 or 50 stuff and carry a small tube for reapplying. Also, wear a thin headband to keep sunscreen laden sweat out of the eyes, and I wear sun sleeves. I put the suncreen on pretty thick on the neck regions that aren't covered and legs, particularly front of thighs and on the calf areas.
I did purchase one of the Halo sun covers pictured upthread, and some sun sleeves.

Originally Posted by WNCGoater View Post
To the OP, re: Oily or Greasy. Get some Neutrogena lotion sunscreen. Not greasy at all & besides, you're going to shower it all off after your ride. Now some claim that the chemicals in sunscreen may be harmful. Sigh...pick your poison, no one's getting out of here alive anyway.
I had spoken with my GP about this a year or so back, and as a result tried some of this natural sunscreen. It is extremely thick and not easy to wash out of cycling kit. I had put some on my arms and it left white splotches on my jersey, which didn't come out until after a couple of wash cycles, so I stopped using it. My GP is probably in agreement with the article linked below by @Biker395 .

Originally Posted by Biker395 View Post
Interesting. I hadn't seen that.

Putting my critical reading hat on, CR's conclusion depends entirely on the characteristics it uses to judge which it recommends and which it does not. It looks like in their view, the higher the SPFin UVB and UVA, the better. So, variability in the SPF below the advertised value merits a poor rating, as does a lower SPF.

I'm not so sure. Suppose a sunscreen has an SPF of 50 (like the one I use) and it received a poor rating (actual SPF 50% of labeled SPF). If it's actual SPF is only half of that (SPF25), it means I'm getting 1/25 of the exposure I would have received without sunscreen. That would mean that if I were in the sun 8 hours, I would get about 20 minutes of unprotected exposure ... right about what GPs recommend. Yet, that sunscreen would get a poor rating.

At the same time, there are studies questioning the safety of at least some of the ingredients used in the chemical sunscreens. Here is an article with links to the studies showing the problems with the ingredients:

https://www.ewg.org/sunscreen/report.../#.WwA4X0gvzIU

So you makes your choices and takes your chances. The mineral sunscreens work best for me,so I'm sticking with them.

Good info though ...thanks!
I have a consumer reports subscription, and had never before considered checking their recommendations on sunscreens. I've only used them for purchasing appliances.
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Old 05-19-18, 10:43 PM
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Old 05-20-18, 02:59 AM
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I was sunburned too often as a kid on the beach so I try to be more careful now. Long sleeve jerseys whenever I can tolerate it, sunscreen on the arms when I wear short sleeves. Sunscreen on the legs.

Sunscreen on the face, ears and neck below the eyes. Bandanna over the head, down over the forehead, under the helmet. Sometimes another bandanna around the neck.

Usually I look for individual packets of combination sunscreen/bug repellent since the two tend to go together. I'm equally concerned about diseases transmitted by mosquitoes and ticks. So far the various name brand combo sunscreen/bug repellent sauces I've tried seem to work. I'll tuck an extra one or two packets in the seat bag.
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Old 05-20-18, 03:25 AM
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I ride at night, between April and November, with the occasional daytime ride if its cool and overcast.

Mostly because I hate the hot sun, and the ugly tan lines.

Traffic density is much lower at night too.
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Old 05-21-18, 08:51 PM
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I've had issues since my 40's, but so far no occurrence after surgery.
It used to profoundly bother me, but as I've more recent health scares since then, so not so much anymore.
Still, I'm pretty diligent about getting a full screening every year.

Though most of my damage to my Irish skin was probably occurred when I was young (sunburns were normal - almost expected), today, when I ride:
I avoid being out between 11:00 AM (or sooner) & 5:00 PM.
I always ware a 'head sweats' under my helmet to protect my bald scalp.
I always apply sun screen to my neck, face, and tip of ears.
I often take "Heliocare" a supplement from fern that is supposed to give you an overall SPF of 5 or so. To catch things like your eyelids, where you can't use sunscreen. This was recommended by my doctor.
My arms - usually sunscreen those up too. I seldom wear solar sleeves as in the deep south - that's just way uncomfortable & avoiding heat exhaustion is the more imminent concern.
Kit choice - I avoid the super light-weight summer kits that you can pretty much see though. There's no SPF there at all.

Off the bike: I usually wear a wide-brimmed Tilley hat, which is extremely comfortable (and some say stylish) - instant shade!
Or at least a ball cap. Shade helps.
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