Temperatures are beginning to rise and layers are sure to come off; however, SPF is not a seasonal topic only! We sat down with Rebecca Kazin, MD, of the Washington Institute of Dermatologic Laser Surgery and the Johns Hopkins Department of Dermatology to chat about Safe Sun, UVA/UVB.
ATHLEISURE MAG: Why is Safe Sun important and what does it mean?
REBECCA KAZIN MD: As people start to have more outdoor activities on their agendas, you need to be aware to protect skin now, and all summer long - whether you are exercising outside or at the beach. Being aware of the the dangers of sun exposure for both skin cancer and aging concerns is paramount to protecting yourself. Sun safe means taking protective measures when spending time outdoors to shield skin from direct UVA/UVB exposure.
AM: What should we look for what it comes to picking the best protection from the sun?
RK MD: Always choose an SPF of at least 30. SPF 30 is as high as you truly need as long as you remember to apply every 2 hours. If you have sensitive skin, physical blocks tend to be less irritating to skin. If you choose a chemical block, Mexoryl is a good UVA blocker in Anthelios.
AM: Do you have brands to suggest that we should have within our sun protection rotation?
AM: Is there any pre and/or post prep needed when you're spending time in the sun?
RK MD: Ideally, you should apply your sunscreen 1/2 an hour before sun exposure.
AM: What are your thoughts on suncare products that are edible that are meant for providing "natural SPF" such as Heliocare?
RK MD: I'm not sure how sophisticated this technology is right now. It needs more study to determine what level of SPF protection this is providing and how it would compare or integrate into our topical sunscreen use.
AM: Beyond topical care, what other ways can we have the benefits of SPF beyond creams and sprays?
RK MD: Sun protective clothing - hats and swim shirts. I like Coolibar for clothing with SPF woven in.
AM: How can we treat eyes, hair and nails to ensure that they are protected?
RK MD: Sunglasses, hats and extend SPF coverage to your fingers and hands.
Embrace Hat Hair - The scalp is skin too and needs protection from UV rays and DNA damage. The best way to keep your scalp (and hair) safe is by wearing a hat – floppy brims offer good coverage for the face too.
Switch Up Your Part – Make sure you cover your part when you’re out in the sun and try to alternate the way your part hair from day to day to avoid one area soaking up all the sun exposure.
Explore UV Fabrics – If you’re a beach bunny, try a hat with built in UV protection from a brand like Coolibar.
Cancel Your Bi-Weekly Blowout - You may think that hair acts as a protective layer over your scalp in the summer, but your strands are susceptible to sun damage, too. Cumulative exposure to damaging UV rays causes hair to be brittle, break easily, and leaves it dehydrated and unmanageable. Give your hair a break between blowouts, especially in hot, humid weather.
Style Smart - If you must heat style, use a leave in conditioner and don’t blowdry or iron your hair without using a heat protectant first. For summer, I like the Phyto Phytokeratine Repairing Thermal Protectant Spray. It is easy to use because it is a spray on product and works to rehydrate over exposed frazzled hair.
AM: Are there times that we should avoid the sun?
RK MD: Sun is strongest from 10-2, so try to limit exposure during that time. Also if you are on medicines that make you sun-sensitive, like some antibiotics.
AM: How many times should we apply SPF?
RK MD: Every two hours if you are in direct sunlight. On a daily basis, definitely in the morning before work. Then you can try to remember to reapply at lunchtime.
AM: What is UVA/UVB and why is it important to use products that include both?
RK MD: They are the different wave lengths for ultra violet light. UVB is the one responsible for sunburns. UVA can cause skin cancer and premature photoaging, so it's important that SPFs cover both wavelengths.
AM: If we have been out in the sun for too long (even when we had SPF) - what should we do to protect it during our aftercare process?
RK MD: If you have a sunburn, soothe skin with aloe to minimize irritation from the burn.
AM: We know we've heard it before but do we really have to wear SPF even in the winter or when the sun isn't out and if your skin is darker (those who are naturally brown) - do we need SPF?
RK MD: You do need to wear SPF even in the winter, because you are still getting exposed to UV light. Same goes for cloudy days. If you have melasma, light in the office or indoors can also activate your melanocytes and perpetuate hyperpigmentation. For darker skin, pigmentation is such an issue, so SPF is still essential. Plus darker skin is still at risk for photoaging.
AM: What are the telltale signs that we have damaged our skin due to being in the sun?
RK MD: Brown spots, broken capillaries, pink splotchy skin, premature wrinkling, thin skin, sagging skin with a leathery texture.
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