“Check out this sunburn!” I said to Alex the other day. Despite all the products and application techniques that I thought I had mastered, I realized that when it comes to sun-proofing my skin, I’m still a little shaky. Take my trip to Bali, for example… I wore a bathing suit that I love (Later on, we have to talk about bathing suits with their little tags that say “Do not come in contact with sun products. Do not get wet…”)(???)(What are we supposed to doooo?) and I wanted too make sure I didn’t stain it and avoided carefully the contours of the swimsuit…
And ended up with the chicest type of red sunburn swimsuit contour by the end of the day.
And it also goes to show that sunscreen only works if you know how to put it on right.
So we decided to ask an expert all of our “sun” questions. We learned some good stuff, like the whole thing about wearing a hat all the time, but lots of other interesting things too. Here’s what she said! I send hugs and let’s keep this summer rolling!!!
30 is the magic number. For an everyday sunscreen, we recommend an SPF 30 that is broad-spectrum. It will ensure really good coverage. There is little difference between SPF 30 and SPF 100. Once you go below 30, it starts to drop off.
UVA vs UVB. There are several different types of ultraviolet rays that come out of the sun. The ones that get down to us here on earth are Ultraviolet A (UVA) and Ultraviolet B (UVB). UVB are the classic rays that can burn the skin and they are very well blocked by sunscreen. UVA rays don’t burn the skin but they age the skin, cause brown spots and can also cause skin cancer. Sunscreen only blocks partial UVA rays. You should be using sunscreen but also wearing a hat, sunglasses, and going in the shade because sunscreen is not 100%.
Reapply. It all depends on what you’re doing. If you’re at the beach, the pool, doing outdoor activities and sweating, you want to reapply frequently, every 2-3 hours. If you’re just out during the day, maybe running errands, apply in the morning and again in the afternoon. The most often missed spots are the ears, the neck and chest. People tend to forget these parts when they are out of the day and they get a lot of exposure.
Protect your lips. Don’t forget your lips. Women are often protecting their lips because they are wearing a gloss or balm, but men forget. Make sure you are putting something on your lips with a sunscreen. Lips get a lot of sun exposure and are a very high risk area for skin cancer. Skin cancer on lips is more aggressive and more dangerous than what we see on other parts of the face.
Powders and sprays. I love powder sunscreen on the face for women. You can reapply throughout the day, it looks like makeup, its fantastic. I use it myself, they have great coverage. I use Colorscience, it’s the best one.
Sunscreen sprays are convenient but you have to be very careful with application. You should apply a spray indoors but no one wants to because of the smell so they do it outside and it blows away in the breeze. You aren’t always getting the coverage that you think.
Sensitive skin. People with sensitive skin should always look for products that either have zinc or titanium, or both. It’s very easy to find these products because you just need to check the label for active ingredients. Under active ingredients it should say zinc, titanium or both. If it says anything else, put it back on the shelf, even if it says it’s a sensitive skin formula.
Treating sunburns. Your skin is going to be hot and painful, so you want to cool the skin. Take a cool bath and use a pure aloe gel which cools the skin and acts as an anti-inflammatory. You should drink a lot of water because a sunburn is very dehydrating.
For peeling, use a light, non-fragrant moisturizer, like a Cetaphil. It’s going to peel no matter what, but don’t help it along. Treat it gingerly.
Tanning beds. Sun exposure and UV exposure from a tanning bed is all cumulative. Although you can’t erase what’s been done in the past, you can reduce what is happening now and in the future. A lot of people make the excuses that the damage is already done, so they are going to keep getting a tan. Every time you expose yourself it increases your risk of skin cancer. Don’t think that the damage is done and that it gives you a free pass to go in the sun.
Stay safe. Don’t rely solely on your sunscreen, it’s just one part of your sun protection program. You want to avoid the sun between 10am and 2pm, wear a hat and sunglasses, cover up the best you can and seek shade. Get into the habit of doing a self skin exam once a month. Check yourself head to toe and if you notice any moles or anything changing, bring it to your doctors attention.
For the body, CeraVe Body Lotion SPF 50. It’s great. It’s just zinc, so even people with sensitive skin can use it.
For the face, La Roche Posay Minerale, comes with or without a tint. It works for those with sensitive skin.
Thank you Dr. Elizabeth Tanzi for all of the advice!