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Q&A with Dr. Kathryn Dempsey

Q&A with Dr. Kathryn Dempsey

Welcome to Sun Schooling! We are starting Sun School to educate our Cabana Crew more on safe safety. 

Cabana Life is passionate about sun protection, and to give you the best information, we reached out to experts in the field, our favorite dermatologists!

We are so excited to feature Dr. Katheryn Dempsey, M.D. She is a fellow Mom & Dermatologist. She attended medical school at The University of Texas in San Antonio. She has been board-certified in dermatology since 2014.

You can find her on her Instagram account @dermdrdempsey.

 What's the number one thing you wish people understood about sun protection? If you could give someone one sun protective tip, what would it be? 

"Number one thing- sun protection needs to be an every day practice, like brushing your teeth. The average person gets significant UV damage daily (through the car windows, walking to the mailbox, etc..) and sun protection must be practiced on a consistent, daily basis."

What's the difference between UPF & SPF? How much UV protection does normal clothing provide? What are the benefits of wearing sun protective clothing? 

“UPF stands for Ultraviolet Protection Factor and is the measure of sun protection in clothing- i.e. how much UV radiation makes its way through a fabric to reach the skin. Clothing with a UPF rating of 50+ means that less than 2% of UV rays will get through (1/50th). SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor and is the standard measure that we have to evaluate the effectiveness of sunscreen.

Normal clothing provides very little sun protection. My patients are often surprised to learn that a typical white T-shirt provides a protection factor equivalent to an SPF of 7, wet it drops to 3. A black T-shirt my only provide the equivalence of an SPF of 15.

Knowing how little regular fabric protects our skin from the sun, it is very important to wear truly sun protective clothing. I always recommend looking for UPF 50 on clothing labels- as the most common location for a melanoma is actually a person's back. I fear one may have a false sense of protection if he/she is wearing regular fabric.”

You're going to the pool or beach. What's your personal sun protection routine? 

“I apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen of at least 30 to my face and body around 15-30 minutes prior to leaving the house. I always reach for long-sleeved UPF swimwear and my broad-brimmed hat as well as large sunglasses. At the beach we apply sunscreen on the hour (usually more often than this as my daughter is very aware of the importance of reapplication and is quite eager to get it back on). Oh- and we always sit under an umbrella.”

What should someone look for when picking a sunscreen? Do you have any sunscreens you love and recommend? 

“In my opinion, there are 3 key factors to finding the perfect sunscreen. First and foremost- it needs to be effective. Look for sunscreens that are broad-spectrum, have an SPF of at least 30, and are water & sweat resistant. Second- it needs to be safe. For children under two and those with sensitive skin I recommend mineral based (zinc oxide and titanium dioxide) containing sunscreens to avoid skin irritation and allergies. Lastly- it needs to be affordable and feel good on your skin. If a sunscreen is too expensive or feels sticky- people won't want to use it.”

For more dermatologist features, click here.

Dermatologists recommend clothing with sun protection, and Cabana Life offers a variety of dresses, swim, rashguards with UPF 50+. Dr Dempsey is a HUGE fan of our unisuits, rashguards, terry tunics, & kids rashguard sets!