Ahh, longer days, warmer nights. It can only mean one thing- summer is just around the corner. It’s time to take the workout and weekend fun outside to the pool, park, beach, or trail. It’s time to try something, like yoga in the park, SUP, or a long bike ride to show that all those indoor cycling classes have you ‘ride ready’. If you’re like us, it’s a favorite time of year, a time to be a bit more carefree!
As we think about the warm embrace of summer, we also need to remember to protect our skin. We asked our friend and expert, New York City-based dermatologist Meryl Joerg, to share her thoughts about getting ready for summer:
We all want to enjoy the great outdoors, and maintain healthy skin. How do we have fun, while avoiding the risks of short and long term sun exposure—things like dull, discolored skin, or worse – wrinkles and skin cancer?
By far, the best way to prevent sun damage is to wear sunscreen every single day. The two main types of sunscreens are composed of physical and chemical blocks. The physical sunscreens sit on top of the skin and reflect the sun’s damaging UVA and UVB rays. Chemical sunscreens, on the other hand, are absorbed into the epidermis of the skin and work by absorbing the sun’s harmful rays. My favorite daily physical block sunscreen is La Roche-Posay Anthelios SPF 50 Mineral Tinted. For a chemical block I recommend Neutrogena Dry Touch Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 50. I recommend a broad spectrum sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB rays, with SPF 30 or greater for daily use year round and SPF 50 or greater for longer exposures in the summer. It is important to apply sunscreen every morning, preferably at least 15 minutes before sun exposure. If you find yourself in the sun for extended periods of time the sunscreen should be reapplied every 2 hours and immediately after swimming. Unfortunately sunscreens do not block all of the sun’s damaging rays.
Although sunscreen is a must, I also recommend wide brimmed hats, rash guards or even leggings for extended periods of sun exposure. There are so many amazing styles these days, you don’t have to sacrifice your style to protect yourself. If you are going to the park or the beach, it is best to go before 10:00 AM and after 4:00 PM to avoid the strongest mid-day rays, and sit under an umbrella or elsewhere in the shade.
So, what is the sun doing to your skin while it shines so brightly? It creates free radicals in the skin which cause most of the damage to skin cells. There are ways to reduce the damage and absorb these free radicals, either by applying topical anti-oxidants or ingesting anti-oxidants. For a great daily anti-aging routine, I recommend applying a vitamin C lotion to the face after using a gentle, non-fragranced cleanser in the morning followed by a moisturizer with sunscreen. It also helps to eat your antioxidants in the form of fruits and vegetables. My own summertime favorites are raspberries and blueberries, kale and frisée, which I pick up at the local farmers market. Also, vitamin supplements rich in vitamin B3, C, E, beta carotene, zinc and selenium, to name a few, are great anti-oxidants.
If you look in the mirror and see the signs of sun damage, talk to your dermatologist. We have many creams and procedures to help you regain your youthful skin. Topical creams such as tretinoic acid, kojic acid, hydroquinone, glycolic acid and vitamin C lotions help to lighten dark spots, even out skin tone, and smooth fine lines and wrinkles. Lasers such as the Fraxel help to diminish wrinkles and sun spots. Other lasers specifically target dark spots and fine blood vessels in the skin caused by aging and sun exposure. Botox is used for stubborn forehead, mid brow and crow’s feet wrinkles.
Although we have a lot of tools to reverse signs of sun damage, is important to protect your skin before damage occurs. So have a great time this summer and don’t forget your sun protection!
Dr. Meryl Joerg is a Board Certified Dermatologist who specializes in Cosmetic and Laser Dermatology in New York City. She is an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Cosmetic Clinic at the Mount Sinai Hospital. Her Website is www.drmeryljoerg.com.