Sunday, May 29, 2011

Cycling and Sun Damage

Though I have derived many benefits from cycling, the one drawback I am still struggling with is sun damage. During my first year on the bike as an adult, I thought that I was being pretty good about using sun protection, but noticed visible damage to my skin that seemed to be a direct result of cycling over the summer months. Darkened patches and wrinkles appeared in areas of my face and body that had been most exposed to the sun while cycling. And this was despite using high SPF sunblock and staying off the road during the hottest times of the day.

At some point last summer, I switched from chemical to physical sunblock (titanium dioxide or zinc oxide), which seems to have helped. My skin was sensitive to the chemical stuff, and some friends told me that 30SPF physical block worked better for them than 60+SPF chemical, as well as lasted considerably longer. I switched and found this to be true for me as well. Physical sunblock remains visible after application and looks kind of goofy, but at this point I couldn't care less and just want to ride my bike without wrecking my skin. After year two there was still some additional skin damage, but less than before.This summer I will try to be extra good about applying the sunblock as frequently as possible.

In speaking to long-time road cyclists about sun damage, I've learned that it is a common complaint - to the extent that some just accept it as inevitable, embrace their wrinkles and brown spots, and pay frequent visits to the dermatologist. I really don't want to believe that it has to be that way, but my own case has done nothing to prove them wrong. What has been your experience with sun damage as a result of cycling, and how do you deal with it?


  1. For burns in general, I like to use some after-burn spray. I specifically use Solar Recover, which is all-natural and works really well for me. I've noticed that if I spray it on my skin the night after I've gotten too much sun the next day I have little if not any sun damage.

  2. Lauren - That's the thing: it's not burns. The sunscreen appears to work, but over time there is a gradual darkening and wrinkling of the skin in spots where the sun hits it most.

  3. I, too, have skin that burns far too easily, both normal sunburn and short duration burning that goes away afer 10 or 15 minutes in the shade, likely due to eczema and the side effects of the drugs used to treat it. I also suffer chemical burns from chemical type sunscreens, the jury is still out on the physical type (have been using Blue Lizard, zinc and titanium dioxide, in SPF 30). I try to stay covered up, I have an LL Bean sunblock shirt and a couple of fishing shirts that I wear on top, I try to wear long pants all summer, but shorts feel so nice on hot days. I also am planning to get a wick-able, breathable helmet liner and a roll-able hat to protect my bald head to carry with me for when I'm off the bike.
    My dermatologist tells me sun exposure should help reduce my eczema, but realizes I get crispy in the sun.
    Honestly, as much as I enjoy sunny days, overcast days are much more likely to see me out riding.

  4. I wear a silly wide brimmed hat I found in the gardening section of my local milliner. Which physical block are you using?

  5. Erin - I use Eco Cosmetics SPF 30 (which I bought in the EU and is not available in the US) and also Badger Chemical-Free SPF30.

  6. Multiple choice answer:

    If I'm cross-dressing, a burka. Or Jackie O sunglasses.

    Road rides, helmet, feckless sunscreen.

    Urban, cowboy hat.

    Or sit in front of the 'puter and get carpal.

    The dog has a roof on her bike.

    In-laws in AZ look like lizards, friends in Seattle looked embalmed.

  7. If it isn't available in the US, there is NO WAY I will be able to get it in Canada.

  8. My friends in (non-urban parts of) England look the best: nothing like constant rain, overcast skies, and the aroma of the heaths for the skin.

  9. The heaths, the bogs, the heather,
    Make the skin not weather.

  10. Back when I started cycling, nobody thought the sun could "damage" your skin. In fact, getting tanned when young and leathery when older was seen as a sign that one had lived a healthy, active life outdoors.

    Now I use a 50-60 spf chemical sunscreen, but I might try a physical sunblock. I have fair skin though, from what I can see in the photo, I am not as fair as you are. (Does that line sound like it came out of Cinderella, or what?)

    Back when we all wore crochet-backed gloves, many of us got spots on the backs of our hands, as if we'd brushed up against waffle irons.

  11. I live in the pacific northwest which is as miserable as England weatherwise, but once the monsoons end and the sun shines a bit more I start to get tanned. I try not to think about sun damage too much. The worst time to be out in the sun is between 10am and 3 or 4pm, then the UV rays diminish dramatically. It has been my rule for years to go to the beach later in the day which annoys everyone but I prefer the quality of light later on than mid day. When I bike to work I am there in the morning and not off until 6 so miss out on the sun. But on weekends when I go out and about I am biking in mid day. Unless the weather is super warm I am going to have a sweater on.
    I have some Cetaphil daily face moisturizer/sun block that is 50 spf. I have yet to really use it because it seemed really icky because of the sunblock stuff. I bought it to wear while riding to work or if on a long ride and then wash off once inside etc.. Cetaphil products are great: non greasy, non iritating, fragrance free, non comedogenic and for sensitive skin.
    And getting sun is also important for vitamin D which is proving to be more essential than previously thought.
    And Erin, Health Canada's regulations are different than the FDA, so we do get some uber powerful sunblocks from Europe that the US does not and visa versa depending on the rules.

  12. Veloria - Though I'm sure that something like what I mentioned would help with general restoration of the skin. If it can help with a burn, its my thought that it would help with other types of sun damage. Though, of course, I'm not a dermatologist, so don't take my word for it.

  13. Being in Australia (where we have the highest incidence of skin cancer in the world, I believe), I too have to be extremely careful about sun damage.

    I make a habit of wearing white, long-sleeved Tshirts in summer to keep the sun off my arms. I need to figure something out for my legs though, as those are more difficult to protect while keeping cool.

    I have a clear zinc stick (which I really ought to find; no idea where it is) that I can use on lips, cheeks and nose. It still provides protection without looking *too* goofy. Though I may buy a coloured one this coming summer so I can tell more easily whether it's wearing off.

    I also wear a sporting singlet OVER my white T to cover my lower back. This past summer, I got a very nasty sunburn where my Tshirt rode up and exposed the skin between that and my pants. Not fun.

    So I mostly cover up in Summer and expect that a certain amount of clothing will need to be changed in order to make this possible.

  14. Also, regarding 50-60 SPF, that doesn't really mean much. For one thing, a lot of people forget what it actually means, which is that you can stay out in the sun that many times longer and not burn. It doesn't tell you how well-protected you are, just for how long compared to how long you would be without anything.

    Also, it's almost impossible to measure accurately beyond about 30+, so anything above that in a cream isn't really worth paying for.

  15. I realise that skin cancer potentially is a real issue, but surely humans did not evolve to spend their life indoors, out of the sun? Surely a tan, freckles, etc. are completely "natural", and it is only Hollywood and advertising that has persuaded you that an absolutely clear complexion is somehow "normal"?

  16. Velouria - We of the fair skin are more affected by the suns rays. I try to ride in the morning or early evening when the sun is not so intense.

  17. I have fair skin but not as fair as some. I live in N Florida. After 3 years of cycling I'm fine using 90-100 spf Neutrogena sun screen lotion on any exposed areas. I also wear a sun visor under my helmet and during the summer I wear lightweight cotton arm warmers that keep the sun off my forearms [cut from the arms of a long cotton knit shirt]. Forearms seem to attract the most sun. I also ride during early morning or late afternoon.

  18. I use physical sunblock too, and have for years and years. I overheard one of my cycling friend on a ride saying "That's why Lynne looks so weird all the time." He was talking about my white sunscreen.

    I do use chemical sunblock when I get sick of the zinc getting all over my clothes. Be sure it has UVA block. Physical on my face, always. I like Burnout -- it really "sticks" to my face.

    Lauren -- if you got a burn, or even a tan, you have sun damage.

  19. Look for the sunblocks made for babies. They all include either titanium dioxide or zinc oxide without harsh chemicals. Expense doesn't guarantee effectiveness. I use the No-Ad or Target brands recommended by my dermatologist.

  20. I end up with ridiculous looking tan lines, especially for a woman, including marks from sunglasses and it is depressing to see the enhanced age, but I deal with it by drinking! Even with our rainy spring, I already have the silly looking half tanned arms with white hands and same look on the legs. Still happens through sunscreen. So attractive!

  21. hehe! Not a problem in SouthWest Scotland, I assure you! In fact, getting enough Vitamin D in the winter months can be a problem. I wear a moisturiser with sunscreen on my face but in the winter I trade off a tiny risk of damage (hey, wrinkles add character) for the sensation and benefit of the sun on my skin. Whenever I go down to London, people tend to comment on how healthy I look, although the tan only extends to my neck at the moment...

  22. After I read this I looked down at my feet and noticed that my penchant for cycling in Tevas (a la Grant Peterson) has left noticeable "sandal tan" on my feet.
    I confess that since I don't burn easily I overlook sunscreen more often than I should. When I do manage to plan ahead I'm usually fine with some basic chemical sunscreen for the arms and legs (and feet!) but I do tend to grab a hat to protect my more-sensitive face. On the bike I'll usually wear a cycling cap (fits under the helmet when I'm wearing one, looks retro-awesome when I'm not). When I'm off the bike a straw trilby or Panama usually does the job.

  23. The burns and the wrinkles and the darkening are bad, sure. But the real danger sometimes arrives later. It's skin cancer. I have had several basal cell carcinomas removed from my face and neck, including one last week. Fortunately, basal cell is relatively trivial, especially compared to melanoma, which I have thus far avoided. I did have a colleague and friend who died from melanoma several years ago, however. It may or may not have been sun-related.

    I wear a hat when I'm going to be outside for any length of time. (It doesn't help that I'm bald.) Since I wear a helmet when riding, I have to apply sunscreen to the top of my head as well as other exposed areas -- otherwise I get these red stripes that correspond to the vents in the helmet! I use a chemical sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 and usually 45. Alas, I still haven't found one that won't run from my forehead into my eyes once I start to perspire.

  24. My problems with sunburns in my face (in particular nose and checks) got worse over the past few years, whether I am cycling or not. Suncream (factor 30+) only helps for a short while, so I tend to use caps and clothes that keep my face, neck and shoulders in shade as much as possible (which is also cooler). After being exposed to sun a lot I also use an extra lotion before going to bed. Once I have acquired some tan, I am usually ok, but I still carry on with protection.

  25. There is a natural supplement antioxidant taken daily as a small gel cap that some claim acts as a natural sunscreen and prevents skin damage from sun exposure. It's called astaxanthin.

    There are other claimed benefits for this supplement. Also, it takes about 30 days of taking it to build up the protective power. Cost appears about $15 - $20 per month.

    I haven't tried it, but you can search for it and decide for yourself.

  26. Sounds like a cycling cap/helmet combo with a visor or large brim will solve your issues much more effectively than sunscreen alone. When riding with a cap I rarely have much actual sun exposure on my face.

    Long sleeve jerseys and knicker length shorts will help elsewhere.

  27. When I cycled around Australia a few years ago i had to contend with a great deal of sunshine and extreme UV factors - especially in places like the Great Sandy Desert, the Kimberley and the Nullarbor and since i was out for long period with the chance for a shower, slapping on a lot of gooey sunscreen was not a very palatable option. I used a long sleeve Stingray top - made in Queensland especially for UV protection - to cover my arms and back of my neck and a visor on my helmet.

    It worked really well. I did not get sunburnt once. I was on the road for nine months, and over 10,000 miles and regularly did hundred-mile days in temperatures of well over 110 degrees and in extreme UV readings. the loose-fitting, long sleeved top was never too hot and protected the skin on my arms - which if you're cycling anywhere are virtually being held out to be burned - wonderfully. Highly recommended, although I have to say I've not seen them outside of Australia.


  28. most of the time, i'm only on my bike 40 minutes out of the day and only for commuting (which would be when the sun's rays aren't at its peak). however, it's all adds up! my previously even tanned arms and legs are riddled with sunspots! my face seems to be okay, because my helmet has a mini visor. i've been thinking of getting sun sleeves to cover my arms, but i don't know if they'll be practical since it would also make me really hot.

  29. V- I am right here with you. As a brown skinned person I do not burn. However I tan and get darker with each outing. this in itself is not a bad thing except by summers end my arms are 500 shades darker than anything else on my body and I have a very not so sexy multicolored look going on that I don't like. Plus the face/ nose sun damage is not great and I work hard to keep my skin looking good.

    One thing I have been doing with mixed results is wear DeSoto cool wings which is a sporty shrug. However I wore this with sunscreen this week and still got a lot of sun going on already. It's going to be a long summer.

    I plan to buy a sheila moon shrug thing in black- even though I worry this will make me hot.

    I do like wearing my Yakkay sunhelmet to block some sun off of my face.

    I find the physical sunblock doesn't really work for me and it gives me a white ashy sheen which is not pretty. I wear it at the beach though.
    But honestly it's one reason I do not enjoy summer cycling really at all.

  30. Wind-damaged skin is also a side effect of cycling. You may want to check out some good moisturizers.

  31. After getting 2nd degree sunburn on my legs while kayaking about 2 years ago I definitely don't leave the house without some sort of sunscreen on exposed skin. When I'm going out to the barn or the lake it's the usual SPF 50ish sunscreen. Otherwise I tend to wear cotton/linen blend long sleeved coverups and wide brimmed hats. No matter what though, I still end up freckly and tan. I tend to just stay that way thanks to years of working outside.

  32. Re hats & caps: I wear one pretty much every time I cycle. I also usually wear long sleeved jerseys and longer "knickers" instead of shorts. The damage happened regardless, on parts that are exposed like shins, wrists, and exposed patches on the face.

    Re the "healthy outdoor look": I am not worried about vanity, but about skin cancer. And what I am describing does not look like an indication of health in any sense; it looks like patches of damaged skin. While it's true that we were not meant to sit indoors all day, people with different skin types have different degrees of sensitivity to the sun, as a result of the terrain and climate of their ethnic place of origin. It's not necessarily healthy to put someone in direct sun for several hours a day whose skin was meant for the shade and overcast skies.

  33. V, I don't ride nearly as much as you, but I use Yes To Carrots moisturizer with spf 30 (zinc oxide) and then at night I use Yes to Blueberries night cream sometimes teamed up with their repair serum. It definitely seems to restore moisture and even out my skin tone and texture. If I'm wearing a sleeveless shirt or going to be in direct sun for more than a few minutes I use a spray on chemical sunblock as well. I'm always strategically looking for a patch of shade to rest in or a route that's shaded, or waiting until the evening to be outside, as I'm also concerned about preventing skin cancer. Yes to Carrots also just came out with a spf 30 body lotion but I haven't tried it.

  34. Using a strong physical block and brimmed hats seems like the most one can do to protect oneself, aside from staying in the shade or indoors. So I don't have much to advise on there.

    This kind of sun damage seems to be very difficult to prevent for people with lack of melanin to begin with. One thing to note is that some of the damage you see coming out now, could have been the result of damage sustained many years ago. As I have gotten older, I am going out in the sun less and protecting my skin more, but brown spots have been cropping up in spite of this. I think this could be due to sun exposure in my youth, when I often did not use any sunscreen at all.

  35. Actually, we've been having a spell of the most beautiful sunny weather over the past two months in England. In marked contrast to what you seem to have been experiencing. Though probably not so great for our skin - mad dogs and englishmen etc.

  36. Yes! I've been noticing the exact same thing happening to myself lately. I too am very fair skinned, use sunscreen all the time but have still noticed a deterioration of the skin that is exposed most often when biking. The skin on my neck/chest that gets exposed has turned a permanent shade of pink, though it has never been sunburned. It seems that those who aren't quite as fair-skinned have trouble relating to this issue.

    If you discover something that actually works to prevent, or help repair the damaged skin please share so the rest of us fair skinned bikers can benefit. :)

  37. Consider the new Avon product that will not only block the sun but will help heal the skin damage.

    It's called...Avon Anew Solar.

    My wife has sold Avon for 35 years and this product has been well received by her customers that have tried it.

  38. Oops. Correction: I use Burts Bees chemical-free SPF 30. Though I've tried Badger and it is also good. Burt Bees uses titanium and Badger uses zinc.

  39. When not tending to my family, when not working, when not cycling, when not hiding under the bed, I like to lift weights with the objective of increasing and maintaining functional strength. I am totally healthy...20 years in as a melanoma (those childhood summers in Mombasa) survivor (and yes, they played a Vivaldi cassette while they excised).

    Enjoy life, but do get screenings--sensible prevention and early detection are crucial.

  40. The doctors played Sarah Mclachlan when I was having hand surgery done over 10 years ago, and I still have painful associations with her music : (

  41. I am fair but with golden/olive rather than pink undertones and have always tanned very easily. I don't like getting tan, though, so really do everything I can to avoid it. I avoid midday sun, wear hats, etc, and it works somewhat.

    I do find that my zinc oxide based spf 30 works a lot better when I use different antioxidant and anti-inflammatory oils on my face with it. Not creams, just different oil blends. My experience is that I am less likely to tan or experience irritation if my skin is well protected and hydrated with natural oils. People do pretty intense stuff to their skin in the name of age reversal or "treatment," but I prefer the more gentle route and it has worked well for me.

  42. I'm fair, and I too vote for a baseball type cap under a helmet, with the brim shielding part of your face. Or a straw bonnet when/if not wearing a helmet. Thanks for bringing up this important topic.

  43. I think this is just one of those things you can't do well against if you're born naturally with very fair skin. You'll just have to avoid as much direct exposure as possible and limit rides in mid-day sun. Just as people in the desert avoid traveling in it, they also cover up when they have to.

    I tend to go about fully covered up year 'round, even in summer (light, loose clothes)--I just ride slower so I don't overheat.

    I suppose this is as good a reason as any to have bicycling as a supplementary method of travel to a car than a primary one, if you're sensitive to the elements.

    Maybe in the future they'll have some sort of magic energy shield that hovers over us, but for now, protection is limited without some kind of physical barrier.

  44. JdeP said...
    "Surely humans did not evolve to spend their life indoors, out of the sun?"

    True but today's sunlight has more UV radiation than our evolutionary past. Furthermore, people with red or blond hair and blue or green eyes evolved in the more shady regions but may have now migrated to somewhere sunnier.

    So I offer two options:
    1. Bandanna & Troxel Cowgirl helmet
    2. A fuly enclosed velomobiel

  45. JdeP wrote...

    "I realise that skin cancer potentially is a real issue, but surely humans did not evolve to spend their life indoors, out of the sun? Surely a tan, freckles, etc. are completely "natural", and it is only Hollywood and advertising that has persuaded you that an absolutely clear complexion is somehow "normal"? "

    Hate to have to break the news to you… but since we humans have managed to royally mess-up the planet… the sunshine is no longer ‘natural’… I am no greeny… barely scrape in as a concerned citizen… so not affected by hype or marketing… just common sense and logical will tell you… we have really screwed up…

    I am part Native American... living in the US as youngster... I can only remember being mildly sunburnt once or twice under pretty extreme conditions... spent most of my youth in Phoenix... a good chunk of my adult life working outside on the farm, in construction, and working on the docks in Florida... never had a burn... just tanned to a nice chocolate brown...

    fast forward to living in Australia... did not listen to my new wife... spent an afternoon on the beach without any sunblock... got so badly burnt that I have scars as a souvenirs...

    still hate wearing sunblock... but I ride in long sleeve, high-neck cotton shirts and long shorts or trousers with a brimmed hat... and use sunblock on my neck and hands...

    the Australian sun is so brutal that you can feel your skin shrivel and sizzle on a sunny day… I find it cooler to wear loose fitting cotton clothing than to have exposed skin… covering up is the only way to really protect yourself…

    funny that… my Native American grand-mother always insisted in wearing long sleeves and a big bonnet when working outside in the garden in the summer…

    The Grouch

  46. velouria,

    try but you can also buy their products at dermatologists' offices. A nurse recommended it to me. She uses it herself. She says it is what cancer patients use.

  47. My problem isn't with skin damage. It's with having a tan that's even funkier than a 'farmer tan'!

  48. I've been noticing some freckles and a few dark spots on my face and asked the dermatologist about them. Her response: skin damage like that is caused by UVA rays and physical sunblocks are the best way to prevent it. SPF ratings are based on protection from UVB rays and say nothing about UVA rays.

  49. Hello Velouria,

    We are very conscious of the sun danger here in Australia especially if you have fair complexion. My wife died of skin cancer and I have had operations for skin cancer as well.

    I know Boston doesn't have Australia's sunshine. But I would say it doesn’t matter how you look, you need to protect yourself from the sun. Use SPF30 sunscreen and cover up arms and legs with clothing.

    (I also use a legionnaire’s style bicycle helmet cover when I go on long rides and touring.)

    In Australia we have the high profile “Slop, Slop, Slap” campaign, which advises -

    Slip on some sun-protective clothing – that covers as much skin as possible
    Slop on broad spectrum, water resistant SPF30+ sunscreen. Put it on 20 minutes before you go outdoors and every two hours afterwards. Sunscreen should never be used to extend the time you spend in the sun.
    Slap on a hat – that protects your face, head, neck and ears
    Seek shade
    Slide on some sunglasses.


  50. If it were a recommendation for Peppy and Coffee (the sun-loving velo-cats) I'd suggest Solar Topees. "Wolseley" models specifically, as they do a good job of covering the back of the neck, and weigh less than those other things of which we shall not debate.

    As far as I can tell physical sunblock is a better choice than chemical.
    I'm with the Australians on that one.

    Corey K

  51. I'm not sure how to deal with it for long road rides. Shading is the best way to keep the sun off, so maybe big sunglasses plus a brimmed hat would help (although I guess not so practical for road rides).

    I'm very pale with sensitive skin, but 've found that my 30 minute commutes are not a problem, as long as I wear SPF on my face, tops of my thighs, shoulders and arms. My face stays pretty pale with the protection of my helmet, sunglasses and SPF, but my arms get gradually darker as the summer goes on. I have noticed some fine lines in the last year or two, but that sadly has to do with my age + genes.

  52. Oh, I just read in the comments that you already shade as much as possible. Maybe a derm has some super sunblock she could prescribe you.

  53. I'm your age but not nearly as fair and I don't think I've noticed any sun damage since I've been commuter cycling (this will be my third summer) but now you've got me concerned about this. I've been using L'Oreal Ombrelle (physical and chemical sunblock) consistently for the past several years but it's not available in the States so I order it from Canada. Now I'm thinking a sun visor might offer a good additional layer of protection without adding to my sweaty head concern (I'm helmetless as well).

  54. Looks like you have a little erythema and telangiectasias. Nothing too serious. The villain is UV light from the sun. Ultraviolet light contains both UVA and UVB. UVA is a co-carcinogen and does some burning and penetrates deeply into the skin. UVB burns and is a primary carcinogen. The amount of UVB varies directly with the sun's intensity (low in the morning and evening, high from 10:00 to 2:00). UVA remains constant ALL day long. The closer to the equator you are the higher the dosage of both. The UVA causes the collagen in your skin and the elastic fibers in your skin to deteriorate. Under the microscope the dermis has changed from a nice healthy pink to an amorphous mass of bluish material. The elastic fibers are often fragmented. Imagine a tarp (skin) over a dense jellatin like substance. Th tarp is held tightly in place by bunje cords traversing the jellatin and attached to the tarp. Now reach under the tarp and smash the jellatin into a mush and clip the bunji cords. The result? Prematurely aged skin with lots of wrinkles. This is the non-cancer effect of the sun. The more pigment in your skin th less vulnerable you are. Very fair skinned individuals are at High risk.
    Using the example above, the tarp part of the skin is the epidermis. This is where the sun causes cancers, basal cell carcinomas, squamous cell carcinomas and the most deadly of all, malignant melanoma. Cancer of the skin is a direct result of exposure to UVA and UVB rays.

    Sunscreens to the rescue!

    As you noted, a Physical barrier to the damaging Ultraviolet rays is best. Zinc Oxide is superior to Titanium Oxide. Zinc is now availkble in a micro molecule form. That means you don't have to be painted white to get the effect of Zinc Oxide!
    One thing to remember the SPF in your sunscreen applies to UVB ONLY!! There is no way to know how much your sunscreen is protecting you from UVA. Some scientists worry that we are protecting ourselves from the Burn by our (chemical) sunscreens as they filter out the UVB But, because we then stay out longer the UVA exposure may increase dramatically.
    Because UVA is constant throughout the day you need protection all day long.

    As far as sunscreens. The ones containing Zinc filter out UVA and UVB.
    Sheisido is a Zinc Oxide based sunscreen which is waterproof and does not paint your face white. It is not cheap but can be found in Dept stores I think. Obagi has a number of excellent sunscreens that are zinc based.



  55. Jim, thanks so much.

    What's your opinion regarding the concerns about the zinc nano-particles being poisonous?..

    Also, is there anything you're recommend for damage repair once it's already happened?

  56. I usually wear a pretty full set of clothes, even in summer, though sometimes with short sleeves or my sleeves rolled up, so really the only place other than my arms that had any major sun exposure and burns is my head, face, and ears, which I took care of by getting a straw fedora, so it shadows my upper face and nose, as well as my ears. It's nice that it's straw so it actually still lets some air through, but blocks enough of the sun that I haven't had any more problems getting burned. I haven't really had any problem with my arms getting burned, could be because I have enough hair to block the sun :)

    Sorry, not really any useful advice there, I guess I'm kind of lucky in that respect - and I usually try to stay inside as much as possible in the summer, as anything over 80F kind of makes me want to die. Yes, we have thought of relocating to Iceland. :)

  57. My understanding is that there is no scientific evidence that Zinc nano particles are harmful. The concern comes from the fact that Zinc Oxide sits on top of the skin and does not penetrate it. Zinc nano particles Do penetrate the skin so some are concerned that that fact is worrisome. They want proof that it is safe. I can understand those concerns but, I do know, beyond a shadow of a doubt You will get skin cancer if you do not protect yourself from the sun. Period. I also know that your skin will wrinkle and age prematurely as well if not protected from the sun. If you are worried just wear the standard Zinc oxide.
    Oh yes, there are many ways to reverse the effects of the sun damage to your skin from peels to topica Vitamin A and on and on... See your local Dermatologist!

  58. This thread makes me think of those sepia-toned old photographs where the riders are wearing big hats and long dresses... it all makes sense now!

  59. I order natural sunblock from We tested it with applied kinesiology and my body is OK with it. But I still prefer to use a good hat, especially the Tilley hat. It is very durable, has good ventilation, has a wide brim, and has a good quality chin strap so the hat doesn't fly away. I think the disadvantage of putting sunscreens and sunblocks on the body parts that sweat is that the loations can prevent natural sweating.

  60. I am from Australia too and in summer I ride with sunblock, a helmet with a visor and large sunglasses. I agree with others that the wind factor does dry skin out and I use plenty of moisturiser. The sun here is really harsh but I find that with this protection from it I never burn and I have minimal sun damage for my age, 55, but then I have olive skin.

  61. I just bought Josie Maran natural sunscreen from Sephora and I really like it.
    It has no fragrance. She also makes an antioxidant/facial version

    But what others have said is correct re higher SPF values. I read an article recently which said that the govt will soon not allow companies to make such claims because their effectiveness is questionable. Ideally, you should be reapplying often. And antioxidant serums need to be applied under sunscreens because the sun negates their effectiveness otherwise.

  62. sunbum makes a clear zinc sunblock that comes in a jar.

  63. yes, fair skin. yes, australia.
    However: avoiding one risk creates another one. What about the risks of Vitamin D Deficiency? And did you know that the sun, while clearly causing skin cancer, lowers the risk of almost all the other forms of cancer?

    Helmets, sunscreen, antioxidants - what about the risks of beeing safe? Please don't bubble wrap me and put me on a bike, so i can enjoy nature! I'd rather die of skin cancer or have my brains mashed by a truck, then to prepare for an hour with a foot-long checklist. Just to go out on a bike ride? But then again, i don't live in Australia.

  64. I live in a country where its summer all year round, averaging 28 degrees celcius and a relative humidity of around 95%. The sun's rays here is a killer, especially on a clear day between 9 am to 4 pm. In the past, I just wear sunscreen of at least SPF 50 and dress up fully for protection. But I heard of nasty stories of sunscreens causing more harm to the skin than good. Cancer etc... Now I stopped using sunscreen and just use a brolly. Obviously, it can't just be any brolly. Its gotta have the 98% UV shielding rating. So far its working pretty good, much better than wearing long sleeves IMO. (UV rays seems to penetrate even long sleeves...) Only problem now is finding something to protect my feet. Brollies can only shield so much sun. my feets are still exposed during late mornings and afternoons.

  65. have you tried skinceuticals? they make a number of chem free sunscreens that don't leave a white cast

  66. I'm 67 and blond (well used to be) and used to travel by bike for 55 years (recreational now). We're talking pre-sunscreen for many of those years. What has caused comments, (where are the wrinkles!) even from my dermatologist, is the use of Dermalogica Sun Repair.

  67. This thread is getting a bit old so may not attract any more comments, but does anyone have any advice re keeping a brimmed hat on one's head on a bike? I have lost my flat cap and until I get a replacement my only hat is an Akubra which is perfectly rainproof but flies off my head the minute I go down hill. It's pretty tight for normal wear, I don't know that I want to make it any tighter round my head. I can't see any way of attaching a chinstrap. What are other people using? Hatpins?

  68. Townmouse - email me a pic of your hat and we'll see what we can figure out! clxtgirl at gmail

  69. you should try riding in the winter... the biting cold air does a lot more damage than some UV rays.

  70. Just heard from my doctor that I may have squamous cell carcinoma on my nose, biopsy to confirm. So, 10 yrs of year-round commuting, guess I needed to protect my skin better. I will now be reappraising my clothing and gear.

  71. I was just researching this topic since I'm about to start mountain biking and didn't like the idea of so much sun exposure. I've always worn sunscreen and hats for sun protection. I found this product which I'll definitely order and use along with sunscreen: