8 Expert Skin Care Tips You Need to Know Before Spending Time in the Sun

Augusta Falletta
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Girl applying sunscreen

There’s nothing worse than getting a sunburn when you weren’t even trying to be in the sun. Though we always recommend using products with SPF regardless of the season, winter and early spring tend to trick us into thinking it’s okay to forego the sunscreen because of our layers of clothing. Now that the weather is finally warming up and we’ll be able to spend time outdoors without our teeth chattering, it’s time to get into the SPF mindset once again. Considering no one wants scars, burns or skin disease (especially if we can prevent it), we turned to an expert for preventative skin care tips to maintain a healthy glow in the midst of harmful UV rays. Dermatologist Dr. Patricia Wexler gave us her invaluable tips on sunscreen at the nail salon, what SPF numbers really mean, and more.

Beauty High: If you wear clothing that’s completely covering your skin, do you still need to wear SPF? 

Dr. Patricia Wexler: The average t-shirt has an SPF of 8! So yes, you must first cover your body with a broad spectrum SPF UVA, UVB of at least 30.

What’s the difference between an SPF for your face and for your body? 

SPF formulated for the face has been tested homologically, meaning it’s non-irritating for the eyes, and it usually has less fragrance. It’s non-comedogenic (meaning non-acne forming) and the texture is lighter, with less grab, to make it more compatible with makeup and powder. Look for words like non-comedogenic, velvety and powdery.

What kind of ingredients should you look for in SPF (i.e. for non-greasiness, waterproof, etc.)? 

SPF that’s considered water resistant is usually a gel. Lotions are the least greasy and the lightest to wear, while creams are often the heaviest. They have the highest SPF as a rule, but even if titanium dioxide (non-chemical), because of the heaviness, they can be irritating in the extreme heat.

If you do get burned, what’s the best recourse for helping your skin? 

Immediately after a burn, take two aspirin, soak the skin with compresses of ice cold skim milk and water for 10 minutes every few hours with a soft wash cloth, and blot dry. Apply cortisone lotion or cream. If severe or blistered, consult your dermatologist. Treatment with LED light therapy daily will decrease redness and inflammation and even decrease your chances of skin cancer in the future.

Do you think it’s necessary to wear sunscreen to the nail salon if you’re using UV lights to dry polish?

The nail drying machine is LED, posing no risk for skin cancer. The gel manicure however exposes you to UV radiation and therefore UV protection could theoretically be of help to the skin, although not necessarily to the nail bed.

Is it better to use SPF in addition to your regular products, or are products that contain SPF (like tinted moisturizer with SPF) okay on their own?

A product labeled SPF 30 is protecting you whether it’s a pure sunscreen or a moisturizer with SPF added. You don’t have to add SPF, but it won’t hurt either!

How often should you be reapplying sunscreen? 

SPF should be reapplied every 2 hours while in the sun. The addition of antioxidants to the sunscreen will add stability to the formula and give additional protection in terms of time, duration and efficacy.

Does the number SPF make a difference past a certain point? 

Statistically, it would appear the difference between SPF 30 and 50 is only 2% additional protection, but clinically, patients universally say they get better results. Anything over SPF 50 is unwarranted.

Image via iStock

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