Sunscreen and Driving

Craig Kraffert, MD

Recent studies have found that many people don’t apply sunscreen before driving. This is mainly due to the misconception that vehicle glass shields skin from the damaging effects of sun exposure. Unfortunately, at this time this is not generally true. 

As a result, in the United States where the average driver spends around two hours in a vehicle each day, there is a greater incidence of skin cancer on the left side of the face, neck and left ear. In Australia, it is reversed as Aussies drive on the left side of the road and cars typically have a driver’s side window on the right.

Protecting Skin While Driving

Several things can be done to protect skin from sun damage while driving.  Wearing long sleeves or gloves, or applying sunscreen to the hands are sure ways to reduce the damage to hands (think brown spots) and forearms. Applying sunscreen on the face, neck and ears will protect those areas as well.

Still, there is more that can be done. Window tinting is a consideration. Tinted windshields and front seat side windows are prohibited by California law. There are, however, clear window coatings that block both UVA and UVB rays from entering the vehicle. Llumar window film is allowed in California. Llumar’s Clear Film AIR80 coating blocks up to 99% of UV rays. I highly recommend this product. Despite the lack of Redding-based installers listed on the Llumar website, local installation is available.

Until built-in UV protection glass is an option on vehicles, it’s important to take necessary steps to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays. Sunscreen, UV window coatings and clothing are excellent ways to protect the health, integrity and appearance of your skin.