As someone who suffers on and off from acne I know the feeling of not wanting to put on sunscreen. I’m always worried that something “extra” will clog my pores. I also know the feeling of getting sun spots and wrinkles, however, so I realize that SPF is a non-negotiable. As long as I stick with oil-free sun protection I seem to have no issues with breakouts (even though I remain paranoid!). Unfortunately, even though I know better, I have done damage to my skin because I often fail to re-apply as much as I should (hence a recent sun spot on my face that left me in tears!). Don’t let the same thing happen to you! And this is without even diving into the risk of skin cancer. It really only takes one bad burn for permanent damage (aesthetic and beyond) and we need to be conscious of this all day, not just when we’re hitting the beach.
I turned to one of the country’s best dermatologists, the host of DermTV.com, and the creator of BeautyRx by Dr. Schultz, Dr. Neal Schultz, to get his expert opinion about everything we have to bear in mind to keep our skin safe this summer.
- Apply sunscreen – SPF 30 or higher -liberally and often! By often, I mean every 2-3 hours and immediately after swimming or sweating. Most sunscreen failures occur from not reapplying often enough.
- When it comes to SPF application, don’t forget the “forgotten areas,” aka top of ears, back of neck and tops of feet. This is key for beach and pool time and outdoor sports. Many female patients wear their hair in a ponytail and forget to apply SPF to the back of their neck.
- Avoid squinting (causes crows feet prematurely) from not wearing your sunglasses in the sun. Repetitive facial expressions like squinting crease your skin, which by repetitively bending your collagen thereby breaks it, creating those aging crows feet.
- Make sure you apply sunscreen in your car. Window glass stops UVB rays – which causes sunburn – but it doesn’t stop UVA rays, which cause premature aging and skin cancer.
- Sunscreen is applied first – before any other skincare product! The reason being, you can be sure that when that sunscreen was tested by the FDA, it was applied to absolutely bare skin – so if you want the rated sunscreen protection (i.e. the SPF number on the bottle), it needs to be applied first, not last, which most people do (they erroneously think that the sunscreen should be “closer to the sun” and therefore applied last).
- If you’re active in the sun from Memorial Day through Labor Day, in terms of the amount of traditional carbon based sunscreen needed for your whole body (FYI, with chem-free physical blockers, you need about ½ as much product as you would with chemical sunscreen), you should use at least 4 oz. / day – assuming first application and 3 reapplications, each application being about 1 oz. That means one 8 oz. bottle should only last for the weekend. Stock up on your SPF!
- Don’t forget the shadow rule: If your shadow is shorter than you are, then the sun is at it’s strongest, and even with sunscreen, it’s important to limit your sun exposure.