Saturday, February 24, 2018

Expert Advice on Summer Skincare

July 15, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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skin adviseSummer days are synonymous with sunny weather,boating escapes, and (in a holdover from years past), bronzed skin. Though summer inspires us to remain outdoors, sunburns, premature skin aging, and cancer are negative, but avoidable, side effects of exposure to the sun’s UV rays.

Before sunbathing blithely, consider the advice of two knowledgeable skin professionals. Dr. Jessica Krant is a board-certified dermatologist and founder of Art of Dermatology private practice in New York City, as well as Assistant Clinical Professor of Dermatology at SUNY Downstate Medical Center, and Dr. Whitney Bowe is a board-certified dermatologist with offices in New York City and Briarcliff Manor, as well as a Clinical Assistant Professor of Dermatology at SUNY Downstate Medical Center. The doctors dish out good advice on sun damage prevention and the maintenance of healthy, vital-looking skin.

Question:How does the sun harm our skin?

Dr. Krant:Even though what we feel is the heat from the sun (infrared radiation), the real damage is invisible in the form of ultraviolet radiation from the other end of the light spectrum. The UV radiation can penetrate the cell nucleus, directly causing damage to the cell DNA, and causing it to start having mixed up signals, which can lead to cancer. Other damage comes from the UV radiation penetrating into the area around the cells, deeper in the dermis, and cooking the collagen and elastin fibers that make skin stretchy, springy, and plump. Sun damage leads to increased cancer risk as well as increased signs of aging.

Question: Are there any differences in Sun Protection Factor (SPF) needs depending on age?  For example, do children need higher SPF than adults?

Dr. Krant:There is no age difference. Protection (with sunscreen, hats, protective clothing, and UV protective skin adviseasunglasses) should start at 6 months, and keep going for all ages. Everyone needs to wear a minimum of SPF 30, which should be increased up to 50+ on days of extreme, direct sun exposure.

Question: How many times a day should sunscreen be reapplied?

Dr. Krant:If you work in an office in a city, going only to your car, it’s unrealistic to reapply sunscreen in the afternoon, except maybe on the hands for driving. However, if you’re spending time outside in direct sunlight —perhapslunch outdoors at a sunny café or a day at the beach or on the boat— sunscreen should be generously reapplied every two hours at minimum, and more often after sweating or being in the water. 

Question: Do we need less sunscreen on cloudy or rainy days?

Dr. Krant:It’s tempting to think you don’t need protection on cloudy days, but though the heat and light don’t get through to us as much, UV rays do penetrate down to the surface. Plus we all know that a day that starts out cloudy can suddenly become a blazingly hot afternoon, so it’s best to always preventively protect. 

Question: Is sun damage reversible?

Dr. Krant:Like damage from smoking, sun damage is not fully reversible. However, starting protection at any time in life is valuable. There are some things that can be done to find damage and try to roll it back a little, such as treating pre-cancerous lesions and sun damaged areas.Even starting to use sunscreen later in life can definitely reduce the risk of cancer and slow the signs of aging.

Question: Do people with darker complexions need to worry about sunlight?

skin adviseadDr. Bowe:Absolutely! I have diagnosed melanomas, squamous cell cancers,and basal cell cancers in people of all skin tones.

Question: What are some safe alternatives to tanning from the sun?

Dr. Bowe:Using a self-tanning cream or lotion with the ingredient DHA is a great option for those looking for a safer tan.  The main risk of using DHA as a self-tanner is that it provides a false sense of protection from the sun’s rays — even though the skin appears tan, the DHA only provides an SPF of about 3 or 4, which is certainly not enough to protect you from developing a sunburn, signs of aging, or skin cancer. So always be sure to use a sunscreen in addition to a self-tanner if you plan on being outdoors.

Question: Can anyone develop a sensitivity or allergy to sunscreen?

Dr. Bowe:While allergies to ingredients in sunscreens are rare, they do occur, and can develop at any point in someone’s life.  If you think you are allergic to a sunscreen ingredient, ask your dermatologist about patch testing, or try to use only physical blockers such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.

Question: Are certain types of sunscreen better than others?

Dr. Bowe:Look for with the words “broad spectrum.” If you plan on sweating or going in the water, look for “water-resistant” as well.  That being said, the best sunscreen is the one you will use consistently. 

Question: Do certain products and medications increase sun sensitivity?

Dr. Bowe:Many drugs, whether applied directly on the skin or taken by mouth, can increase your sensitivity to the sun. For example, doxycycline is an antibiotic commonly prescribed for acne that can make you prone to sunburn. Any ingredients that thin the surface of the skin, such as glycolic acid and retinoids, should be used along with sunscreen every morning. 

Dr. Krant’s website iswww.ArtofDermatology.comand Dr. Bowe’s website is

webPlus_web_green1Sunscreen and Vitamin D

Katherine Vazquez: The sun is a major source of vitamin D. Does sunblock inhibit Vitamin D absorption from sunlight?

Dr. Krant: Sunscreen (sunblock is a term no longer allowed by the FDA) does reduce the production of some Vitamin D in the skin, but we get enough from exposed areas (even with sunscreen) and regular outdoor activity if we also eat a diet rich in healthy sources of Vitamin D such as fatty fish like salmon, Vitamin D fortified milk, and supplements. It’s important to discuss your Vitamin D level with your doctor and ensure that it is in the healthy range. Interestingly though, recent studies looking for definitive causal links between Vitamin D and many diseases thought to be related have not been able to prove that low Vitamin D is a direct cause of many of them. However, there is no question that Vitamin D and calcium are extremely important in bone metabolism throughout our lives.


is a freelance writer with a background in Psychology and Elementary Education. She grew up on Long Island and currently lives in Central Islip with her twin sister, Sarah.

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